Space was limited on the wa`a (voyaging canoes) of early Polynesians exploring the Pacific Ocean. Careful planning and much thought went into every item that was stored and packed for the journey. Important plants selected for the journey included kalo, or taro, for its cultural significance and as a staple food source and niu, or coconut, as an immediate source of water and food. ‘Olena, turmeric in Hawaiian, was one of the chosen “canoe plants.”
Turmeric was selected because of its many uses. The root was used as a cooking ingredient for its bold flavor. Its deep color made it a favorable choice to dye kapa, cloth made from tree bark. The plant was used to treat earaches and clear nasal pathways. Polynesians prized it for its mana or spiritual powers. Mixed with seawater, the solution was sprinkled on people and newly settled places as part of a purification ritual.
What Turmeric Is Good For
Turmeric is a potent antioxidant. Curcumin, the active ingredient in the plant, is able to cleanse the body of free radicals that can turn good cells bad.
Helps Prevent Cancer
Turmeric’s antioxidant activity reduces the effects of cancerous cells. Curcumin can reduce angiogenesis and metastasis. In plain speak, it cuts off blood supply in a tumor, impedes the tumor's growth and works to reduce the cancer from spreading. Evidence has shown that curcumin may even prevent cancer from occurring, especially cancers in the digestive tract. A study of 44 men with possibly cancerous lesions in their colons showed that four grams of curcumin per day reduced the number of lesions by 40%!
Reduces Inflammation and Rebalances the Body
Another benefit of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory capability. Long-term, chronic inflammation is dangerous. It can lead to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and a variety of degenerative diseases. Using turmeric to prevent and treat inflammation is ideal.
It is an adaptogen which physically helps restore and rebalance the body from stress. Read more about adaptogens here!
Arthritis Treatment And Pain Relief
Turmeric can help those living with arthritis. One study of rheumatoid arthritis showed turmeric to be more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug.
Turmeric can also ease pain and stiffness caused by daily life like sore muscles after a workout and being stuck at a desk or couped up too long like we have been during the pandemic.
Improves Cognitive Function, Boosts Immune System and Other Benefits
The root helps increase the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, a hormone in the brain that promotes neuronal growth and connections. As a result, memory and cognitive functioning may improve. This is also part of the reason that turmeric helps prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
Adding the Benefits of Turmeric to Our Lives Just Got Easier
Despite its many benefits, turmeric is not common in the American diet. Curcumin does not absorb into the bloodstream very easily, and managing the perfect dosage of turmeric supplements can be a challenge. Luckily, tea is an easy way to add the benefits of this adaptogen to your diet.
‘OLENA | Tea for Life's Aches and Pains
“When we created ‘OLENA,” says teamaker Byron Goo, “We wanted the tea to deliver the full benefits of turmeric. We added black pepper to the blend because pepper improves absorption of curcumin by up to 2000%. We added some ginger to make the tea even more soothing.” Drinking turmeric and ginger tea is an easy and delicious way to incorporate these powerful adaptogens and antioxidants into our diet.
Turmeric is highly regarded in many cultures for its many uses and health benefits. This superstar plant has become a staple in the traditional practice of Hawaiian plant-based medicine called la`au lapa`au. Make 'olena a part of your life's journey.
Written by Kahiau Among & Byron Goo