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Turnip the Beet! Nutrition and Wellness

Timely news, information, and innovative ideas to promote health and influence change.
Dyeing with Turmeric

Dyeing with Turmeric, Colors of Nature

Turmeric is a spice commonly found in Indian cuisine and gives curry its characteristic golden hue. Not only does it taste great it is also great for your body. Studies show that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems; it has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. On top of all this, turmeric is a great dye plant producing beautiful golden hues like in the picture above.

It's true that our bodies absorb chemicals that we place on and around them…so the question is, if we are using herbs and plants to dye our clothes, can we absorb the healthful properties from the items we are dyeing with?

This is a new area of study and researchers (one Dr. Kate Wells in particular) from The University of Derby in the UK has been delving a litter deeper into the subject to investigate whether garments dyed naturally using things like indigo, turmeric, woad and henna can directly improve our well-being by simple contact with our skin. This is an exciting concept and I can't wait to hear more about it!

In the meantime, I will just admire these clothes for their natural beauty.

We kicked off National Garden Month last week with Dyeing with Indigo. In that post I highlighted several methods of folding that will produce interesting patterns and ways to incorporate natural items like rocks and wooden blocks to create more unique designs. You can use those methods with turmeric and other natural, plant-based dyes.

Dyeing with Turmeric, Step-by-Step

1. In a large non-reactive sauce pan, add your fabric, ¼ cup salt and 4 cups water (preferably distilled). Bring to a boil and let simmer for one hour. The salt helps your fabric hold the color.

2. Drain your fabric and wring out when it's cool enough to handle. Rinse the pot.

3. In the same pot, bring 2 cups distilled water and 2 tbsp. of ground turmeric to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat, add your fabric to the pot and let soak. Use a wooden spoon to keep the fabric submerged. The longer it soaks, the more vibrant your color will be. I let mine soak for about 15 minutes, and you can see the result in the photo at the top of this page. (When wet, the fabric will be more orange then fade to gold when dry.)

5. Rinse your fabric in the sink until the water runs clear then hang to dry. If you ever need to wash your fabric, use a mild detergent and cold water for best results.




University of Maryland Medical Center: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide

McLaughlin, Chris. (2014) A Garden to Dye For.

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