What is Turmeric?
Turmeric comes from the curcuma domestica or curcuma longa plant. This golden spice comes from the rhizome (root like section that mainly grows under the soil). The rhizomes are steamed and dried before being grinded to make turmeric powder which can be used on its own or incorporated into various curry powder blends. Some specialty grocery stores also stock the fresh version.
Explore the Wonderful Health Benefits of Turmeric
Although a teaspoon of this golden spice contains just nine (9) calories, turmeric is truly a star, mainly because of its anti-inflammatory properties, including molecules that are known as curcumin. According to a study published recently in Nutrition and Cancer, turmeric is about 3.14% curcumin and this is one of the most active constituents of turmeric powder. This study shows that curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well as antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and immune modulating properties.
Curcumin also has artery-clearing effects and studies show that people who consume curry frequently are less likely to suffer from high myopia (a serious eye condition that causes vision loss)
Turmeric might also help with gut problems such as inflammatory bowel disease because curcumin reduces inflammation in the gut. Turmeric acts as a natural pain reliever and has proven to be very helpful for people who suffer from osteoarthritis.
The main reason to use turmeric in any health condition, is its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits the activity of the master protein known as nuclear factor kappa B which is responsible for regulating the inflammatory process. It inhibits the activity of various inflammatory enzymes including LOX and COX. It also inhibits the activity of inflammatory chemicals including interleukin and TNF-alpha. However, unlike conventional anti-inflammatory agents, turmeric does not cause any adverse effects such as gastric side effects.
The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin contribute to its strong painkiller property. Turmeric reduces pain due to curcumin’s inhibitory action on various inflammatory chemicals such as interleukins and prostaglandins. This has proven to be very helpful especially in dealing with burn injuries and post-surgical pain. Curcumin also relieves neuropathic pain and its painkiller properties can be compared to aspirin.
Curcuminoids are very strong antioxidants and their antioxidant activity is similar to vitamin E and C. They function as antioxidants in three ways:
- Increase the level of antioxidant enzymes
- Reduce oxidative imbalance between antioxidant and prooxidant species in the body.
- Eliminate free radicals that cause oxidative damage
Therefore, curcuminoids reduce oxidative stress in various conditions including thalassemia and diabetes.
Protect Cellular DNA from Damage
Turmeric has genoprotective properties that protect DNA from damage. For example, in case you have cancerous cells, curcumin sensitizes cells to different chemotherapeutic a gents. It also protects normal cells from DNA damage.
Heavy Metal Detoxification
Turmeric helps in treating heavy metal poisoning due to its chelating property (binding to metals and removing them from the body) and antioxidant property.
Speeds up Post-Surgery Recovery
Turmeric has numerous properties that restore health and speed up recovery after surgery. Its immune boosting and anti-microbial properties help safeguard the body from infections. Moreover, it helps in quick healing of wounds. Turmeric also reduces post-operative pain and fatigue.
Turmeric Helps the Digestive System
Turmeric’s gastroprotective properties protect the body from digestive disorders and also aids in digestion.
Improves Stomach Health and Digestion
Curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action protects the digestive system from bacterial infections. Turmeric is a great digestive aid and a carminative that helps relieve bloating.
Great for Acid Reflux and GERD
Studies show that turmeric benefits in GERD and acid reflux in numerous ways. It prevents the formation of ulcers, improves digestion, soothes inflammation, prevents silent reflux and even exerts bactericidal effects on various infections including H.pylori infection. However, it’s important to avoid taking turmeric on an empty stomach or at high doses because this can trigger acid reflux.
Treats Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin help in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disorder. Turmeric extract has also been found to be very helpful in improving bowel movement and reducing abdominal pain in IBS.
Turmeric for Joints and Bones
Turmeric has anti-arthritic, bone protective and analgesic properties that help improve various musculoskeletal disorders.
Reduces the Severity of Arthritis
Curcumin treats rheumatoid arthritis in mulriple ways:
- It helps improve antioxidant defenses
- It’s a very effective anti-inflammatory agent
- It boosts autoimmune reactions
- It improves and protects bone cells.
Incorporating turmeric in the diet of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis significantly improves joint function and reduces pain better than most forms of conventional therapy.
How Much Turmeric Per Day?
To help with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – Take 500mg twice a day (Specifically Arjuna Natural Extracts, India))
Protects Bone Cell in Osteoarthritis
Studies show that curcumin outperforms modern anti-arthritic drugs used in treating osteoarthritis. It also prevents bone loss which is particularly essential in treating joint and bone problems.
How Much Turmeric Per Day?
To help with Osteoarthritis – 500mg twice daily, (Specifically Meriva, Indena extract)
Hastens healing of fractures
Turmeric has been used for centuries in treating bone fractures. Traditionally, turmeric milk was ingested and turmeric paste was applied to the affected region to speed up healing. Turmeric helps in reducing pain and controls inflammatory process. It also aids in mold remodeling and also protects bone tissue.
Helps in Treating Muscle Disorders
Research shows that the anti-inflammatory property of curcumin aids in treatment of numerous musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, sarcoma, and musculocartilaginous disorders. It also relieves pain, improving antioxidant defenses and preventing loss of muscle mass.
Adding turmeric to your diet is one of the most effective ways of reversing insulin resistance and lowering blood sugar. According to a study published by the Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications in 2009, curcumin is literally 400 times more effective than Metformin (a very popular diabetes drug), in activating AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) which helps improve insulin sensitivity thereby reversing Type 2 diabetes. It can also delay the complications of diabetes such as diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Helps in Treating Various Types of Cancer
Various different studies show that curcumin in turmeric has anticancer effects. It kills cancer cells and also prevents more from growing. It has shown the best effects on stomach cancer, skin cancer, bowel cancer, and breast cancer cells. Curcumin also interferes with the growth, development and spread of cancer. As a result, most studies are focusing on the effects of curcumin in treating cancer because of its unique ability to kill cancer cells and significantly reduce tumor size.
Heart disease has become such a major problem in modern days largely because people are developing excessive blood sugar (pre-diabetes) at a very high rate. As a result, both non-diabetics and diabetics are suffering from oxidative stress which destroys blood vessels. The damage to the inside of blood vessels causes the build-up of cholesterol in an attempt to repair the damaged areas leading to significantly high levels of LDL cholesterol. Although drugs such as Lipitor (statin drug) lower the levels of cholesterol in the body, they are also known to harm the liver and kidneys and cause various dangerous side effects. Therefore, doctors are now prescribing natural alternatives such as fish oil and curcumin.
Drugs in R & D conducted a study that shows that curcumin is more effective than modern diabetes medications in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress which is essential in the treatment of high cholesterol.
Turmeric Side Effects – What are they?
Allergic reactions have been reported in some people especially after dermal exposure. This is usually experienced as a rather mild, itchy rash. Moreover, high doses of turmeric can cause diarrhea, increased risk of bleeding, nausea, hypotension, increased menstrual flow, increased liver function and uterine contractions particularly in pregnant women.
In case you are taking certain medications you should also be very careful when using turmeric in your diet because turmeric can affect anti-coagulants such as warfarin, clopidogrel and aspirin. In some cases, it may also interfere with medications like anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal drugs. However, combining curcumin with a steroid known as prednisone can reduce the side effects of this golden spice.
So in conclusion the take home point : it does prove beneficial adding tumeric to your diet – however important to use caution when deciding whether it’s right for you! It is an alternative therapy, and you should speak with your doctor prior to taking tumeric as a treatment for any medical condition that you may have.