The Spices of Life - Natural Dyeing with Turmeric
Our passion for natural plant dyes was inspired by Ayurvastra, an ancient branch of Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old system of healthcare.
“Ayur” is Sanskrit for health and “vastra” clothing so Ayurvastra is loosely translated to “life cloth”
It uses herb-infused and herb-dyed organic fabrics as healing agents, especially for skin, joint and respiratory conditions.
Ayurvastra functions through the principle of touch: as the skin comes into contact with the herb-infused fabric the body develops increased metabolism and rids itself of toxins. Studies have proven the effectiveness of this*
Turmeric is a wonderful spice to use for creating life cloth at home as it is a spice we hopefully all have in our kitchen cupboard. Utilising its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting qualities to wrap around you at will.
Try it yourself using our recipe, bearing in mind it is not a very colourfast or lightfast dye. If you leave in the sunlight the colour will fade as it will after frequent washes.
Turmeric powder – 3 tablespoons for every 500g of fabric
Scoured Cotton fabric
A large pan full of water.
Fill a pan with water and warm to a simmer on the hob.
Add the turmeric and stir until it is well dispersed.
Wet your fabric. Because of its fugitive colour in sunlight we don’t recommend using mordant when dyeing with turmeric.
Add your fabric to the pan and make sure it is submerged. Move around with your hands to make sure every inch is covered and allow the pot to simmer for 2 hours and then cool stirring and moving the fabric every hour to make sure you get an even coverage. Add a splash of vinegar if you want to brighten the colour.
When you are happy with the colour rinse it in water and hang to dry inside ( not in sunlight)
You can cut out pieces of the cotton to make homemade bandages for cuts or sores, use the sheets to lie on during a massage or meditation or use the material to create eye masks.
As a Naturopath I love to take a holistic approach to health. Why not combine the healing power of turmeric with its friend ginger.
Ginger has many uses in the home remedies department and can be used to help arthritis, diarrhea, flu, headache, heart and menstrual problems, diabetes, stomach upset and motion sickness.
Here are our top home uses for the spice ginger.
Muscle Strains - Apply warm ginger paste with turmeric to the affected area twice a day.
Sore throat - Boil some water and add a dash of cinnamon, a little piece of ginger, 1 tsp honey and drink.
For a persistent cough - Take a half teaspoonful of ginger powder, a pinch of clove with a pinch of cinnamon powder and honey in a cup of boiled water and drink it as tea.
Asthma - A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste acts as a excellent expectorant in the treatment of asthma.
Headaches - Dilute a paste of ginger powder, about 1/2 a teaspoon, with water and apply to you forehead.
Colds - Boil a teaspoonful of ginger powder in one quart of water and inhale the steam - helps alleviate colds.
Ginger Compress - This method stimulates blood and body fluid circulation, helps loosen and dissolve toxic matter eg. cysts, tumors. Place about a handful of coarsely grated ginger in a cloth and squeeze out the ginger juice into a pot containing 4 liters of hot water (do not boil the water). Dip a towel into the ginger water and wring it out. Apply very hot to the affected area.
Diabetes - Some doctors recommend some drinking ginger in water first thing in the morning to help regulate your glucose level.
Ginger Tea - Make with fresh ginger root. Grate a small piece of ginger, about the size of a nickel, into a mug. Add the juice of a half a lemon. Fill the mug with boiling water. Stir in a teaspoon of organic honey.
For relief of nausea - Ginger is generally taken in doses of 200 mg every 4 hours.
For relief of flatulence - Ginger is generally taken in doses of 250 to 500 mg 2 to 3 times a day.
* In 2006, a trial by the Government Ayurveda College in Thiruvanathapuram in southern India found Ayurvastra cloth to be effective in treating 40 patients with allergies, rheumatism, hypertension, psoriasis and other skin ailments. Despite the history of this practice, Western medicine has not yet recognized the benefits of ayurvastra clothing and products.