Tales of Turmeric

Lattes, herbal teas and even ice cream have been sporting shades of golden/yellow recently thanks to a root whose popularity continues to rise.  Turmeric has been around and in use for centuries (or longer), but primarily as a medicinal herb and cooking ingredient.  The "wave of wellness" has brought turmeric along with it, highlighting its many benefits as an antioxidant and anti-inflammation agent.

Because of its benefits, 'Ōlena (Hawaiian turmeric) is one of our favorite ingredients to use, which is why so many Honua products have it. 

illustration of turmeric flowerTurmeric is the orange/yellow/golden powder that gives lots of curries their beautiful orange hue.  If you've ever cooked with it, you also know it stains unlike anything else.  I'll take smashed berries on my clothes ANYDAY over turmeric.  The usable, edible part comes from the root of a beautiful large leafed green plant with stunning flowers that can be shades of white, pink and purple (see our illustration to the left).  It grows all over Hawaii and several of our partner farms are now growing it.  It looks a lot like ginger until you peel it and see the bright yellow hue.

We are about to get pretty "science-y" and technical here, but its hard to talk about inflammation and fighting heart disease and cancer without the technical stuff.  

The main ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which fights inflammation in the body.  Inflammation is pretty complicated so without going into huge detail (and boring everyone to death because this will read like a medical journal - no offense, doctor friends.....), let's point out that some short-term, reactive inflammation is actually important as it helps the body fight foreign invaders and also helps repair damage.  However, chronic inflammation is scary and can actually attack your own tissues.  Many scientists (and herbal healers) believe that low-level, chronic inflammation is responsible for most Western diseases, including heart disease, metabolic conditions, cancer, Alzheimers and other degenerative conditions.  So anything that can fight inflammation is a good thing.  Curcumin has even been known to match the effectiveness of anti-inflammation drugs, without the side effects.  So drink up, lather on, get it however you can!

Antioxidants are another hot topic these days and, well, always when it comes to skincare.  Oxidative damage is believed to be a driver for skin aging and other diseases.  Free radicals attack the body and skin by reacting with important organic substances, like fatty acids, DNA or proteins.  Antioxidants protect the body (and skin) against free radicals by neutralizing them and blocking their impact.  Curcumin is unique in that is blocks free radicals but also boosts our body's own antioxidant enzymes.

Studies have shown curcumin can reverse the damage contributing to heart disease by improving the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammation abilities also help lessen the risk of heart disease. In lab tests, curcumin has also demonstrated an ability to slow the growth of cancer cells in the body.

As it grows pretty easily throughout the islands, native Hawaiians have used turmeric (known as 'Ōlena in the Hawaiian language) for centuries or longer as a potent healing agent and to fight inflammation (before inflammation had a name). 

brown kraftboard cosmetic box in handWe've used it from the beginning of Honua, in one of our very first products - the 'Ōlena Beauty Oil.  Founder Kapua Browning began creating it for her own home use as a skin healer and first aid treatment.  After sharing it with friends and family, she had to start making it by the gallon as so many wanted a piece of this healing beauty.  Now it is one of our most beloved products.  



We can't wait to hear how you are using and loving 'Ōlena/Turmeric.

Wishing you good health and lots of Aloha ~

The Honua 'Ohana


I think it’s important to also note that turmeric is a sacred ingredient that has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine.

Alisa August 24, 2020

Mahalo for the summary of inflammation and oxidization. I keep reading all these things that are bad but I don’t totally get how they work or why they are bad so why I need antioxidants, etc. MAHALO!

Tasha July 26, 2020

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