Originated in India, turmeric has been on the tables of people in Asia for thousands of years. Due to its distinct flavor, color, and health benefits, turmeric is a commonly used spice for authentic as well as fusion cooking.
With the spice trade between Asia and Europe, it made its way to the tables of Europeans and later slowly was introduced throughout the world. Nowadays, turmeric health benefits are well-known that make the plant highly popular and widely used as a supplement or a spice for cooking.
A tropical plant of a ginger family, turmeric as ginger is cultivated for its root that used to make bright-orange powder. In fact, it is not a root, rather a large steam running horizontally underground, called a rhizome. Curcumin (curcuminoids) is an active ingredient in Turmeric which gives it its beneficial properties. Despite turmeric has been used thousands of years, the biological characteristics and formula of curmarin weren't identified until the 1950s.
Turmeric is used to color and flavor sauces, mustard, pickles, and cheese. You can add a teaspoon into your smoothie, soup, rice, pasta, vegetable stew. Use turmeric as a natural dye for coloring Easter eggs. Turmeric is also used as a natural fabric dye; so be careful, do not spill it on your clothes.
Turmeric Health Benefits
Turmeric has a number of medicinal properties which are beneficial to people trying to prevent a number of diseases as well as to help with existing conditions.
There is an important aspect to remember. A main turmeric ingredient, curcumin can't be absorbed very well by the body in a stand-alone form. Its bioavailability improves significantly in the presence of piperine which is found in black pepper. Another way to improve the absorption is dissolving curcumin in phospholipids.
Health benefits of turmeric include:
- Anti-clotting (blood thinning) properties
- Anti-nociceptive (pain relief)
Here are some conditions and health issues turmeric can help with.
| Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis
Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties of curcumin were shown to benefit individuals suffering from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies demonstrated that curcumin helps reduce symptoms of arthritis such as pain, stifness, and inflammation-related symptoms. The result was similar to ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium (3).
A study conducted in 2010 has found that a supplement Meriva (curcumin combined with phospholipid complex for better absorption) reduced joint pain and improved joint function in 50 osteoarthritis patients (4).
| After-Sport Muscle Pain Relief
Exhausted workouts are associated with muscle pain, swelling and inflammation. Over time, repetitive physical stress without recovery and nutritional supplementation can cause muscle degradation, arthritis and tendonitis.
In numerous studies have been shown that curcumin with its anti-inflamatory and anti-oxidative properties is able to counteract the oxidative stress and inflammation during intensive workout that cause muscle damage.
The study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that curcumin supplement delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), reduces pain associated with high-intensity exercises and enhances muscle recovery (11).
| Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes
Strong evidence demonstrates that curcumin is beneficial for individuals with prediabetes and can help with diabetes complications. Some researches demonstrated that curcumin can lower blood glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides in overweight hyperlipidemic subjects.
The human study in a prediabetic population found that curcumin was able to prevent development of type two diabetes in the prediabetic individuals. A consumption of three 250 mg capsules twice per day of curcumin extract for 9 month improved function of β-cells. The curcumin-treated group showed a lower level of HOMA-IR and higher adiponectin when compared with the placebo group (12).
The active turmeric ingredient, natural phenol curcumin has been shown to lower the risk of cancer by eliminating free radicals out of the body. This property assists in the prevention of multiple types of cancer such as lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma (plasma cells cancer) (2).
Note. Due to the insufficient scientific data, those claims are not 100% verified.
Inflammation and oxidative stress have been shown to contribute to depression. The study conducted with individuals suffering from depression showed that curcumin has antidepressant effects and can help improve this condition (5).
| Gastrointestinal Disorders
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin can help individuals suffering from a wide array of gastrointestinal disorders. A variety of studies found the benefits of curcumin for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and similar health issues. Curcumin also has shown to assist digestion (6).
| Alzheimer’s Disease & Brain Function
Some researches suggested that anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties of curcumin contribute to brain health in general and Alzheimer’s disease in particular. However, currently no enough rigorous evidence to rate curcumin as beneficial in Alzheimer’s disease prevention, more research is needed.
A long-term research trail demonstrated that daily oral administration of a bioavailable form of turmeric supplement with 90 mg of curcumin in each capsule two times a day was associated with memory and attention improvement in non-demented adults. The study suggested that curcumin benefits are associated with plaque reduction and tangle accumulation in brain regions that responsible for mood and memory (7).
Note. Due to the insufficient scientific data, those claims are not 100% verified.
| Liver Disease
A study conducted in 2017 found that curcumin can benefit individuals with liver issues, especially with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Turmeric can help not only in diseases prevention but also slow down the disease progression (8).
| Weight Loss
A few studies have found that curcumin supplementation reduces body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference among overweight prediabetics. Another study conducted in overweight hyperlipidemic adults demonstrated reduction on a number of lipid profile values including total cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL cholesterol (16) (17).
| Cystic Fibrosis
Studies have shown that curcumin’s anti-inflammation and anti-oxidative properties can assist in cystic fibrosis treatments (9).
| Cardiovascular Disease
A small study demonstrated that daily intake of 500 g of Curcumin for one week helped balance an individual’s lipids. Total cholesterol decreased on 12 % and High-density lipoprotein (HDL) increased on 29% (6).
| Anxiety-Related Behaviors
Curcumin has shown the potential to benefit individuals with anxiety-related behavior including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related anxiety (10).
| Turmeric Topical Application
The anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties properties of curmurin may contribute to treatment of a variety of dermatological diseases. The finding of many studies suggest that curcumin can block bacteria and yeast growth, reduce joints inflammation, heal wounds, help with skin conditions including photoaging, acne, psoriasis, vitiligo, alopecia, and atopic dermatitis (15).
Turmeric Side Effects
Turmeric is generally safe. If used it correctly, the risks appear to be minimal. It was found that there were no significant toxicities of curcumin even consumed at a highly daily dose of 12 g (6). However, in rare cases, turmeric in high doses can have side effects including disiness, rash, stomach upset, diarrhea, complication if you treated with medications that can interact with tumeric.
Always consult your medical provider before trying to treat any disease or illness with any health supplements.
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