Turmeric is a pungent yellow spice, often sold in ground form. It is derived from the root of the Curcuma Longa Plant. Native to Indonesia and Southern India, it has been some thing of a wonder drug in both Indian, and Chinese, healing systems, since the 7th century. It has treated symptoms such as fevers and colds, diarrhea, and various inflammations, (such as of the urinary tract). Turmeric was also used in the doctoring of leprosy and parasitic worms. In paste form, it was applied externally to heal bruises, wounds, bites, skin conditions, and eye and mouth inflammations. Only now, are we in the western world, beginning to catch on to the magical wisdom of this super-root!
Such are the potential capabilities of turmeric, scientific research aplenty is currently being commissioned and carried out. Studies are being conducted into the efficacy of turmeric to cure and/or prevent a number of increasingly prolific (and often fatal) illnesses and disease. Considering its lack of toxic side effects, this is good news indeed.
What Makes Turmeric a Potential Healer?
Research shows that it is actually the active ingredient, curcumin, (present in turmeric), that contains the most medicinal alchemy. Curcumin is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. This explains why turmeric has been successfully used for treating inflammatory, infectious, and bacterial conditions for centuries. It also provides researchers with relevant information about how it may help certain conditions today.
Most of the research mentioned in this article focuses on the use of concentrated forms of curcumin. Curcumin can be bought in capsule, or tincture, form. As with any supplement, please consult a physician, regarding your own individual circumstances, prior to consumption. Turmeric, as a spice, has many healthful aspects of its own. It is absolutely worth your while to incorporate it into your daily diet.
Consuming Turmeric Can Considerably Improve Your Health:
Introducing turmeric into your dishes, and drinks, is to be recommended. It is an excellent source of iron and manganese, Vitamin B6, fiber and potassium. If ingested regularly, overtime, it aids in the general reduction of inflammation in the body. This is important in the prevention of any inflammatory disease. Inflammation in the body is a natural bodily defense mechanism; it fights certain bacteria. However, persistent, or chronic, inflammation can lead to numerous inflammatory diseases such as Crohns or arthritis. There are also potential links between chronic inflammation and cancer.
Additionally, turmeric is a powerful detoxifier. It will help your liver function efficiently, and the elimination of toxins from your system.
Turmeric is good news for your body, inexpensive, and easily accessible. To include turmeric in your diet, add it to rice, lentils, soups or smoothies. If the idea of adding turmeric to a smoothie makes you screw up your nose, I can assure you the strong taste is usually hidden by the other ingredients! The healing properties contained in turmeric are best absorbed into the body when combined with black pepper. Use a small amount of pepper to every half teaspoon of turmeric. To heal a cold, a teaspoon of turmeric, twice a day, in warm water with root ginger, and honey, will help flush out the fever.
Nine of Turmerics Most Exciting Capabilities:
It may prevent cancer from developing, slow down metastasizing, and decrease damage caused by cancer treatments
Scientific research on the benefits of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) is still in its early stages. However, very positive results have been found in non-human experimentation. Concentrated forms of curcumin can help prevent the invasion of too many free radicals, which can be instrumental in reducing the risk of developing cancer in the body. It can also slow the spread of cancer to other areas of the body. As per the Mayo Clinic:
[L]aboratory and animal research suggests that curcumin may prevent cancer, slow the spread of cancer, make chemotherapy more effective and protect healthy cells from damage by radiation therapy. Curcumin is being studied for use in many types of cancer.
This is profoundly encouraging. Due to the bodys limited ability to absorb curcumin, high doses would be required. Even by digesting a large amount you would only absorb a small proportion.
Studies are still needed in order to determine what levels of curcumin are safe for humans to consume. (www.cancer.org)
It could reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke
According to a 2012 World Health Organization report, Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the world. More recent reports published in parts of the western world show that this remains consistent and the projections made by the WHO about the rise in this condition were validated. Terminal stroke is not far behind ranking high within the top ten causes. This is scary stuff and a wake up call for all of us to look at what we put into our bodies. We want to limit our intake of anything that may be toxic to us, and increase the absorption of nutritional foods and drinks that contain antioxidant properties. Prevention, is always better than curesurely?
Recent research is beginning to focus on how curcumin may help decrease the risk of atherosclerosis (the build up of plaque in the arteries). The plaque creates blockages preventing adequate blood flow, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, heart failure, or stroke. It seems the antioxidant property of turmeric may have a positive effect, forestalling the formation of plaque. The Vitamin B6 in turmeric also seems to hinder homocysteine levels from becoming too high. When homocysteine levels are elevated they can be a component in damage to blood vessel walls. Vitamin B6 is very good for reducing the risk of heart disease.
Turmeric cleanses the body boosting immunity and supporting your liver
Curcumin seems to enhance liver function, promoting the elimination of toxins from the body and strengthening immunity. Some studies show that curcumin cleanses the liver, going part way to protect against diseases such as cirrhosis. It can also be beneficial in helping people with hepatitis or jaundice. Not only does turmeric work by helping the body eliminate toxins, (and keeping free radicals under some control), curcumin also boosts the bodys own antioxidant enzymes a double-whammy of health-enhancing goodness.
It can help rheumatoid arthritis
Possibly due to its anti-inflammatory capacity, curcumin has demonstrated positive results in slowing down the effects of arthritis and easing symptoms. Once again, its free radicals in the body that cause the inflammation in the joints of arthritis sufferers. Studies show those who have consumed turmeric regularly report a reduction in swelling, increased mobility, and more flexibility.
It has benefits for those with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Chrohns
Once again, most of the studies conducted so far have not included human participants. One study, carried out on mice, showed that those who had been given small amounts of curcumin, for five days, prior to being tested, displayed less of the symptoms of colitis than the control group. They also lost less weight. Due to the small amounts given during testing, it is believed that regularly consuming turmeric in food could have a beneficial effect for those with inflammatory bowel diseases and lengthen the periods of remission. This must be good right?!
One study on humans backed up the benefit of curcumin for those with colitis. The University of Maryland Medical Center write:
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, people whose ulcerative colitis was in remission took either curcumin or placebo, along with conventional medical treatment, for 6 months. Those who took curcumin had a relapse rate much lower than those who took placebo. (2013)
It may reduce the risk of Alzheimers Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases
This is huge! Teaming up with Alzeheimers Disease International, the World Health Organization published a paper announcing that Alzeheimers is a public health priority (2012). Looking at the statistics published in 2012 regarding the most common causes of death, Alzheimers ranks in the top ten. It is a serious condition, and a serious problem.
In this paper they say:
Dementia is a syndrome that affects memory, thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday activities. The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 35.6 million. This number will double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050. (2012)
In studies on mice, curcumin appeared to help block the plaques and proteins that cause problems in the brain during Alzheimers disease. Human studies have already started to look at this. (www.cancer.org)
In a paper by Mishra and Palanivelu they claim: [C]urcumin as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and lipophilic action improves the cognitive functions in patients with AD. During their research they were able to pinpoint the reasons for the efficacy of curcumin in the treatment of their patients and confirm, the overall memory in patients with AD has improved. (2008)
It can help depression
Depression can be utterly debilitating and is increasingly commonplace in many of the societies in which we live. Multiple studies have been carried out to test the effect of curcumin on those who suffer from chronic, or prolonged, depression. It seems curcumin may help regulate the neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. It can even elevate depleted levels of serotonin. Current pharmaceutical drugs commonly focus upon these neurotransmitters in the attempt to alleviate symptoms of depression. However, these drugs have side effects, which can be unpleasant. Curcumin, could be a much less harmful option.
Some studies suggest that doses of curcumin may even be more effective than traditional anti-depressants (Sanmukhani et al, 2014).
On a lighter note:
Turmeric aids skin complexion and acne
Mix a small amount of turmeric with natural yogurt and honey and apply to the face for approximately ten to twenty minutes before washing off. It may cause temporary staining of your complexion so doing it before you sleep is advisable. As turmeric is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, it will help clear up acne and improve any blemishes or scarring. Many people report that it can even their skin tone, providing a blemish-free complexion.
The other piece of great news, is that, whether applied to the body, or ingested, the antioxidants in turmeric will help fight the signs of aging and reduce the presence of wrinkles.
Turmeric prevents dandruff and hair loss
Mixed with a little olive oil, and applied to the hair for approximately fifteen minutes before being washed off, increases the circulation in your scalp and nourishes hair follicles. This will eliminate dandruff and promote hair growth.
Mishra, S, Palanivelu, K. (2008) The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimers disease: An overvie.w Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781139/
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2013) Tumeric available at http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric
World Health Organization and Alzheimers Disease International. (2012) Dementia: a public health priority available at
Sanmukhani, J, Satodia, V, Patel, T, Tiwari, D, Goel, A, Trinathi, CB. (2014) Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832433