Up until recently you may only have know turmeric as a spice used in curries. But now it is used widely usually in supplement form in the health and fitness industry due to it's anti-inflammatory properties.
According to Cancer Research it may kill some types of cancer cells, but research is still in it's early days.
It is also known by these names:
- Indian saffron
- jiang huang
Turmeric is an ancient flowering plant native to India and Southeast Asia, Curcuma sativa, the leaves of which are the most commonly used spice. It is from the ginger family.
Since its discovery more than four thousand years ago, turmeric has been used for medicinal and scientific purposes, and also has become popular in the United States for its use as a culinary herb.
Fights Infections & Inflammation
Indian and Chinese cultures have long used turmeric to treat infections, but it became widely popular in the West when it was used as a spice in curry, and turmeric is now in use in many dishes from salads to soups to meats.
This spice has long been known for its health properties, including its ability to treat skin inflammations and general inflammation, fever, diarrhea, digestive disorders, and it may kill some cancer cells. It has been used to prevent heart disease.
Although turmeric's effectiveness as a spice is well known, its use as a medicine is not as well recognized. Scientists have used turmeric in various ways to treat various illnesses, but it still remains unknown whether or not turmeric can actually reverse the effects of any disease.
The benefits of turmeric have been shown in studies, but the levels of its effectiveness are still being studied.
Aromatherapists and aromatherapy experts have used turmeric in their products for its powerful natural antiseptic properties. For instance, turmeric has been used for treating cough and colds since the Egyptians and Greeks.
However, it has also been used to treat sinus infections in the West. It also is thought to treat allergic reactions to dust mites, which can cause rashes and itchy eyes.
For those suffering from acne and other skin ailments, turmeric can be very useful. In some cases, it has been shown to reduce inflammation and lessen redness and swelling on affected areas.
One study even suggested that turmeric could help with urinary tract infections. One of the reasons this was suggested is that it has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
A study showed that women who took a standardized form of turmeric had an improvement in their symptoms of urinary tract infections. The researchers concluded that turmeric can be helpful in easing symptoms of these conditions in women because the herb contains allantoin.
Eases Joint Pain
The properties of turmeric help it to diminish joint pain associated with arthritis and osteoporosis. It's anti-inflammatory effects can help if you are stiff and sore with achy joints.
According to this published government medical study, turmeric was shown to reduce the progression of osteoporosis.
Turmeric & Kidney Stones
Many herbs have also been shown to have properties that can reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. One study found that a combination of turmeric, licorice and ginger has been found to be effective against kidney stones.
Turmeric has the ability to break down calcium in the urine to make crystals that can be excreted. When you stop the flow of urine, your kidneys can then filter the stones away. They will also be less likely to form.
But ironically some studies have shown that turmeric can raise urinary oxalate levels - and this can cause kidney stones to form.
Strenghtenes Your Immune System
As far as health and fitness, turmeric helps you maintain a healthy immune system by strengthening your defense against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It also can increase your body's capacity to fight off free radicals. The best way to get rid of these toxins is by using turmeric as part of your daily diet.
One of the ways it can benefit your immune system is by increasing the activity of white blood cells. This can also help to prevent inflammation in the body. When the immune system is working properly, it can kill and eliminate many harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi. When inflammation is present, you can become prone to infection.
Disease can be caused by too much infection. As a biproduct of life, germs and parasites can cause infections in your body. Turmeric can be helpful in eliminating infection because it has natural anti-fungal properties. By making your immune system strong, you are reducing the chances of infection.
If you suffer from hypertension, you should include turmeric in your daily diet as it can lower blood pressure.
Heart disease and other serious diseases are also prevented by ingesting turmeric as it can decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Other benefits include relieving pain and soothing to the joints. It has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and showed to have positive effects in sleep restoration studies.
Curcumin, is the major curcuminoid found in turmeric and is derived from the turmeric plant, Curcuma longa. This spice is a member of the ginger family, Curaceae. It's sold as a food flavoring, food coloring, and herbal supplement. It is thought to have anti-bacterial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties.
Recent studies showed that turmeric contains a wide spectrum of components, which include carvacrol, catechin polyphenols, hesperidin, quercetin, cinnamic acid, Linalool, Limonene, Phenylethylamine, and terpenoids.
Studies also showed that the curcumin contained in turmeric significantly reduced the growth of breast cancer cells in mice. Indian turmeric also shows anti-carcinogenic and anti-cancer activity. In some studies, it was shown to inhibit growth of prostate, esophageal, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers. These studies suggest that turmeric may be a natural anti-cancer agent.
Curcumin can be found in many foods and is sometimes added to cooking preparations. There are two main types of curcumin available in commercial production, either through oxidation or dehydration.
Turmeric is the only spice native to Asia that can be eating unrefined, but most spices contain some amount of curcumin, including cumin, mustard oil, chili, and dried peas. When curcumin powder is heated, it loses its yellow color and begins to turn into a brownish or orange color.
In addition to turmeric's natural color, which is usually light yellow, it can be found in a variety of colors as well, such as white, brown, or reddish-brown. Other natural colorings include yellow, red, and orange, but these colors are derived from pigments that can be harmful when used in high doses. Most commercial curcumin is made with a special bleaching agent to avoid this problem.
Because curcumin has a myriad of health benefits, it is now added to many popular foods and drinks on a regular basis to improve their health-giving properties. For example, it can be added to a bowl of soup to add an Indian flair, or it can be added to dishes like French fries, tacos, chicken, and other southwestern favorites.
Its ability to help regulate the immune system makes it a good addition to many of your daily vitamins and minerals as well, so it's a good thing to consider if you're trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Too much turmeric and taking it at the wrong time can cause problems. As it is classified as a anticoagulant, it is a blood thinner and operates much in the same way as aspirin or warfarin. If you have a planned surgery come off turmeric for at least 2 weeks prior, and stay off it at least another 2 weeks after the operation.
It can interfere with diabetes drugs and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease so talk to your doctor before taking it. Taking more than the recommended dose can cause digestive and gallbladder problems.
Some studies have shown it can lower testosterone, so be wary if you are trying to conceive, or don't want the side effects of lower testosterone.
Some supplements suggest 1000mg of turmeric is the max dosage, although some people experience headaches and nausea if they go over 450mg.
The chances of side effects seem to be relatively low if you have no underlying conditions and you stay under 200mg of turmeric per day.