Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric or turmeric is native to southern Asia. The ground deep-orange-yellow powder is commonly used as a spice in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. It is also used for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments.
Turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurveda practices, to treat a variety of internal problems such as indigestion, throat infections, common colds, or liver ailments. It has also been used topically to cleanse wounds or treat skin sores for centuries.
Turmeric has so many healing properties that there are over 6000 published, peer-reviewed scientific articles, all stating its health benefits. Because of its many health benefits, turmeric is one of the most popular herbs and spices to be studied by scientists. To date the studies have also compared the effectiveness of turmeric with the effectiveness of many pharmaceutical medicines, and turmeric has proved to be superior in many comparisons.
Turmeric has relatively no known side effects unless taken in extremely excessive amounts. That makes it a favourite among those who prefer herbal medicines.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It is a strong antioxidant and it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. However, turmeric contains only 3% curcumin by weight. Most of the scientific studies use turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods. Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, then you need to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin.
There is just one problem. Curcumin is poorly absorbed on its own. It helps to take black pepper with it. Black pepper contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%. Some people swallow a few whole peppercorns along with their curcumin supplement, in order to enhance absorption. Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it may be a good idea to take it with a fatty meal.
Below are some of the health benefits of turmeric.
- Turmeric is an anti-coagulant. Turmeric has been found to be very effective for cases of blood clots in deep veins (medically known as deep vein thrombosis) and cases of blood clots in the lungs (medically called pulmonary embolism). In the mid-1980s there were quite a number of groundbreaking studies which confirmed the effects of turmeric known for centuries in India. Now curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is suggested by researchers as a better option for those with blood clots.
- Turmeric is an anti-depressant. There was a study that was published in the Phytotherapy Research. The study involved 60 volunteers diagnosed with major depressive disorder such as manic depression. The study found that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, was as effective as Prozac in managing depression.
- Turmeric is anti-inflammatory. The most powerful property of curcumin is its ability to control inflammation. The journal Oncogene published the results of a study that evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that curcumin is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world. In contrast aspirin and ibuprofen were found to be the least effective. Oncogene publishes the latest developments in cancer research, in particular: cellular oncogenes and their mechanism of activation
- Turmeric is good for people with arthritis. Since it is anti-inflammatory, a published study found that turmeric is much better at relieving symptoms of arthritis than diclofenac sodium.
- Turmeric fights cancer. A number of laboratory studies have shown that curcumin kills cancer cells and prevents more from growing. Curcumin has been found to have the best effects on breast, bowel, stomach and skin cancer cells.
- Turmeric helps diabetes cases. Turmeric has been found by scientific studies to be the best natural medicine for lowering blood sugar and reversing insulin resistance.
- Turmeric is safe and effective for inflammatory bowel syndrome. In studies evaluating curcumin’s ability to manage IBS, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, it was found that many patients’ conditions improved dramatically by taking curcumin. The patients were even able to stop taking their prescribed corticosteroids. Corticosteroids reduce pain, but gradually damage the intestinal lining making the condition worse. Turmeric is a safer option.
- Turmeric regulates cholesterol. A study done byDrugs in R & Dfound that curcumin was equal or more effective than pharmaceutical medicines at reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the treatment of high cholesterol.
- Turmeric is a painkiller. Turmeric has been used for pain for centuries. Pain killing ability is one of the more widely accepted properties of curcumin among scientific communities.
- Turmeric benefits people with conditions normally treated by corticosteroids. Studies have found that turmeric compares very well with corticosteroids in relieving symptoms of psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and chronic pain. However, turmeric is more superior due to its lack of side effects.
- Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant due to curcumin. First it neutralizes free radicals and then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.
- Curcumin fights degenerative processes in the brain. Curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.
Neurons are capable of forming new connections, but in certain areas of the brain, they can also multiply and increase in number. This process is mainly driven by Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in the brain. Many well-known brain disorders, like depression and Alzheimer’s disease, have been linked to decreased levels of BDNF.
Studies have shown that curcumin does increase brain levels of BDNF. It is therefore possibly effective in delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related reduction in brain function. There is also the possibility that it could help improve memory and make you smarter, but this definitely needs to be tested in human controlled trials.
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