Here at the Center for Sacred Window Studies, we share voices from many perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the sacred weeks post birth, and the experience of humanity is experienced in countless ways. We learn by listening to one another and honoring our stories. The views and opinions of our writers do not necessarily reflect the mission, viewpoints or opinions of the Center for Sacred Window Studies.
In India, Turmeric has long been a highly revered spice associated with Laksmi, the Hindu goddess of abundance and love.
In a traditional Indian wedding, the bride and groom have their faces and bodies painted with turmeric before their big day by friends and family. A turmeric-dyed string necklace takes the place of a wedding ring in certain areas. This necklace blesses the union, protecting against evil and purifying and cleansing the body. Modern science agrees that turmeric has potent healing qualities.
The active compound curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which can help fight cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.
I have always loved turmeric’s earthy, pungent taste. A particular joyful memory of mine was digging fresh roots from the rich, volcanic soils in Maui, Hawaii and chewing and juicing the finger like tubers; staining our tongues, fingers and clothing bright yellow.
In Ayurveda turmeric is one of the warming, more grounding spices — the nature of being a rhizome or root. As a stimulating spice it is great for blood flow, boosting metabolism and kindling the digestive fire or Agni. As agni is significantly weakened after birth, one of the main goals of the Ayurvedic postpartum diet is to rekindle it.
Increasing our metabolism also helps boost our immune system which can also have become somewhat sluggish and compromised. No one wants to get sick with a newborn to care for!
The anti-inflammatory qualities of turmeric have been touted as hugely beneficial to conditions such as arthritis. And so it stands to reason that any swelling and joint pain after birth can also be soothed with this wonder spice. Particularly when we suddenly have the strain of carrying a new baby and breastfeeding positions to adapt to, not to mention possible birth injuries that need to heal. Turmeric also increases milk supply as it indirectly boosts rasa dhatu – the fluids of the body.
How best to use and prepare
In early postpartum you can use turmeric powder in soothing, nourishing tonic drinks and in watery mung dahl broth.
As digestive fire builds, decrease use if you see signs of Pitta aggravation including frustration, excess heat, diarrhea or very quick digestion.
A teaspoon is usually a good amount in a dish with 2-3 servings, but potency depends on the freshness of the powder.
Adding a small amount of black pepper helps bio-availability. Good fats do the same thing as turmeric is fat soluble. Favor coconut oil, sesame oil or ghee.
Later in postpartum use turmeric with purple or dark coloured foods e.g. grapes and berries as these contain a flavonoid that is an enzyme inhibitor, specifically one that deactivates curcumin. We need the curcumin as the main active, healing compound.
As for the form of turmeric, favor fresh root or fresh powder. You can buy turmeric supplements which isolate the curcumin but it has been found that on its own, curcumin is not the most bioavailable. Actually you need the elements of the whole root to metabolise curcumin well; a discovery that correlates with many synthetic and isolated vitamins throughout the supplement world.
Medicine really can be found within our food and Ayurveda has known this all along.
Enjoy these turmeric-boosted recipes within your sacred window or at anytime when healing is being called in. These offerings are much more nourishing than popping a pill.
Pumpkin Dahl Recipe
after the first few days postpartum
½ cup moong dahl or red lentils, soaked for at least 30 minutes
6 cups water
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 tsp fenugreek
4 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 tsp tamarind paste – optional
- Drain soaked lentils/mung, rinse and then add to a large pan of water and bring to the boil. Skim foam as they cook. Cook for about 20-30 minutes.
- Cut butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until tender.
- Whilst lentils and squash are cooking, warm oil in a small frying pan and add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When they start to pop up, add the garlic. Once the garlic starts to brown, add the fenugreek and stir until lightly browned.
- Add most of the cilantro, stir and add the pepper and turmeric. Stir a little of the broth into the pan to rinse it into the lentils/mung.
- Scoop squash flesh into the dahl in small chunks, and cook all together to break down the squash into the soup. Season to taste.
- Add optional tamarind by mixing with a little water before adding to the soup.
A great morning beverage to give energy and wake up Mama’s digestion
¾ tsp turmeric or 1 cm of fresh root
1 cm fresh ginger root or ½ tsp powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of pink salt
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 medjool dates – soaked
- If you have a good blender simply throw everything in and blend on high until smooth.
- If your blender is basic and you are using fresh root of ginger and/or turmeric, you will need to strain out the fibre after blending or favor powder.
Samantha Veitch is a plant-based Maiden to Mother Mentor and newly certified Ayurdoula, as well as a mother to an 8 month year old baby boy. She helps eco-conscious women through pregnancy and early motherhood realign their food lifestyles to obtain maximum vitality whilst making choices that are sustainable for the planet.
Stay connected to Samantha through Instagram @eatinginalignment for recipes, food inspiration and to follow her own natural mama life journey.
All photos + recipes courtesy of Samantha!