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You probably know turmeric as the bright, pungent spice that features in many Indian curry dishes. But according to food writer Tori Avey, in an article for PBS Food, turmeric has been used as medicine for the past 4,500 years. Avey explains in the Indian Ayurvedic (“science of life”) tradition, turmeric is revered for its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability to treat congestion, wounds, bruises and other skin conditions, including smallpox and shingles.

Though turmeric is delicious in eggs, rice, soups and smoothies, as recommended by The Kitchn, it can also be mixed with other household ingredients to make topical treatments and ointments to heal everything from acne to cancer.

1. Heal cuts and wounds. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral agent. Therefore, according to Turmeric for Health, the spice prevents bacterial infection in open wounds, relieves inflammation and pain, and helps form new skin cells to close wounds. To use turmeric to heal wounds and cuts, simply apply turmeric powder directly to the wound. For additional benefits, you can mix turmeric with linseed oil or ginger paste in order to reduce pain.

2. Facial cleanser and acne treatment. Make an organic facial cleanser using 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon neem oil (made from a tropical tree native to India and the Indian subcontinent) or substitute the neem oil for organic, free-range milk, and 1- 3 drops of lavender oil or coconut oil. According to Healthy Holistic Living, this face mask is especially good for preventing acne breakouts because both the turmeric and neem oil or milk have anti-fungal properties. Livestrong recommends letting the paste dry on your face for 30 minutes to help heal acne scars.

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