Turmeric is one of my favorite medicinal herbs and spices. This is true partly because of all the wonderful health benefits turmeric offers and because I grew up in India, where it was a significant part of my daily diet. Turmeric, the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. Turmeric has long been used as a potent anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric is also used in cooking as one of the main ingredients in curries, a staple of the Indian diet. It is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine, which originated in India, and turmeric is considered to be one of nature’s most potent healing herbs. Turmeric was traditionally called Indian saffron because of its deep yellow-orange color, and it has been used throughout history in cooking, as a condiment, and as a healing remedy. Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor, and it is in the same plant family as ginger. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed that turmeric is beneficial in treating a variety of health conditions.
What Are the Health Benefits of Turmeric?
Turmeric is an Anti-inflammatory Spice
Turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. The yellow or orange pigment of turmeric is called curcumin and is the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects are comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen. However, unlike these drugs, which are associated with significant side effects (ulcer formation, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity and has no side effects. It can be used to treat any inflammatory condition, including, but not limited to, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Myositis (inflammation of the muscles), and Gastrointestinal inflammation.
Turmeric Assists the Liver in Detoxification
Studies have shown that turmeric protects the liver and assists in detoxification by inducing the formation of a primary liver detoxification enzyme (glutathione S-transferase). It is an excellent herb to include in any detox protocol, and it can be added to your regular diet as a tasty and medicinal spice. It is easy to add a teaspoonful to your daily fresh juice or smoothie.
Turmeric Provides Cardiovascular Protection
Curcumin helps to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Oxidized cholesterol damages blood vessels and builds up in the plaques that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Preventing this process may help to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Also, turmeric is a good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to keep homocysteine levels low. High levels of homocysteine are considered a significant risk factor for heart disease. Curcumin also helps to reduce platelet aggregation, which may help guard against atherosclerosis and improve blood circulation.
Learn About Other Herbs That Benefit Your Liver with the Happy Hormones at Home Guide
Turmeric Protects Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Growing evidence suggests that turmeric may protect against neurodegenerative diseases. Experimental research has found that curcumin appears to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and helps to neutralize free radicals in the body. Oxidative damage to nerve cells in the brain is thought to be a significant factor in aging. It is considered to be responsible for neurodegenerative disorders, including dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Epidemiological studies show that in elderly Indian populations whose diets include regular use of turmeric, the levels of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s are very low.
Turmeric Prevents Colon Cancer
Curcumin has been shown to prevent colon cancer in rodent studies. Researchers have found that it inhibits free radical damage and prevents the formation of the inflammatory chemical cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). When ingested as a dietary supplement or used as a spice in cooking, it has direct contact with the colon, where it exerts its protective benefits.
Turmeric Halts the Growth of Prostate Cancer
Studies have shown that turmeric, in combination with cauliflower, can help to halt prostate cancer growth. Prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, is a rare occurrence among men in India, whose low-risk of this cancer is attributed to a diet rich in brassica family vegetables (like cauliflower) and the curry spice, turmeric.
How Can We Increase Our Intake of Turmeric?
Turmeric can be incorporated into your daily diet as a spice in cooking or as a supplement. Turmeric is not very well absorbed in the gut, but new technology has been developed to increase absorption with specific supplement preparations. It is essential to choose a supplement using standardized extracts of at least 95% curcumin. Thercurmin-HP is a unique preparation of curcumin that has significantly increased absorption by using a unique phytosome technology. A human study demonstrated 29-times greater bioavailability using the phytosome preparation of turmeric. Phytosomes are plant extracts bound to phosphatidylcholine (PC), an essential component of human cells. Your body absorbs the PC and the attached curcumin, resulting in more curcumin reaching the cells that can benefit from it. This is the best form of curcumin to use for joint inflammation like arthritis or any other systemic or full-body inflammation. The naturopathic doctors at Living Wellness Medical Center offer this cutting-edge supplement to their patients in the treatment of various health conditions.
Try This Tasty Recipe for Aloo Gobi, a Classic Indian Curry Dish:
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1 bunch fresh coriander, separated into stalks and leaves and roughly chopped
- 1 small green chili, chopped into small pieces (or one teaspoon chili powder)
- 1 large cauliflower, leaves removed and cut evenly into eighths
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even pieces
- 2 (8-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- fresh garlic, chopped
- Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan.
- Add the chopped onion and one teaspoon of cumin seeds to the oil.
- Stir together and cook until onions become creamy, golden, and translucent.
- Add chopped coriander stalks, two teaspoons of turmeric, and one teaspoon of salt.
- Add chopped chilies (according to taste). Stir tomatoes into onion mixture.
- Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly.
- Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce plus a few tablespoons of water (ensuring that the mixture doesn’t stick to the saucepan).
- Ensure that the potatoes and cauliflower are coated with the curry sauce.
- Cover and allow to simmer for twenty minutes (or until potatoes are cooked).
- Add two teaspoons of garam masala and stir.
- Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves on top of the curry.
- Turn off the heat, cover, and leave for as long as possible before serving.
Check Out Our Happy Hormones at Home Guide to See What Other Dietary Changes You Can Make to Help Balance Your Hormones