Turmeric, a flowering perennial in the ginger family, harbors curcuminoids and other antioxidant compounds in its gorgeous, deep orange root. As a spice, powdered turmeric is prominent in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines and is traditionally used in India to counter inflammatory skin disorders (i.e., psoriasis), insect bites and other minor irritations.
A paste of powdered turmeric root helps to deter infection of wounds and abrasions. Studies show that curcumin, the main active component of the herb, inhibits several strains of bacteria, including E. coli, Candida albicans, herpes simplex vuris 1 and 2, and even methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aureus (MRSA).
With repeated application, topical turmeric also helps to alleviate pain. That's because curcumin depletes substance P, a neurotransmitting chemical excreted by nerves that sends pain signals to the brain.
Pour water into a small bowl; stir in turmeric. Add oil and stir again to combine and form a paste. Spread the paste on skin and cover with gauze. Rest for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Store any unused paste in the refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature before using again. Caution: Turmeric will stain clothing.