Turmeric - Health benefits of the Golden Spice
Turmeric – The Golden Spice
Turmeric has popped up time after time during my journey into the world of natural remedies, and has been used for thousands of years as spices, teas, dyes and for its medicinal qualities. It is widely known for its use in currys but for me its interest lies in the Benefits of Turmeric and how they can contribute to our health and well being.
Turmeric is a tall flowering plant – Curcuma Longa, and is part of the ginger family. (I love little facts like this) and grows in Asia and Central America. The part of the Turmeric plant that we know is the root, which is ground up to create the bright yellow powder which is peppery and a bit bitter in flavour.
I have read that ‘Turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence’ and that many studies have shown how beneficial for your body and your brain Turmeric can be.
So can I just add Turmeric to my diet to get the benefits?
Turmeric is a wonderful spice and perfectly safe but it is the compound Curcumin which is found within turmeric that gives the spice its numerous health benefits.
Eating Turmeric in your daily diet to get the benefits of curcumin is not enough, although every little helps, but fortunately, Curcumin can be extracted from turmeric and taken as supplements.
For thousands of years Turmeric/Curcumin has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat many conditions including inflammatory conditions, skin diseases, wounds, digestive ailments, liver conditions and chronic pain.
So what are the benefits?
- Anti-inflammatory – Scientists now believe that inflamation, both chronic and low-level can play a role in almost every chronic disease. Including – heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, alzheimer’s and other degenerative conditions so anything that has anti inflammatory qualities can only help.
- Pain relief – (I read that one small study with arthritis patients showed that the turmeric worked as well with managing the pain, as taking ibruprofen.)
- Anti-oxidant – it helps with improving the liver funtion and helps to stop your liver from being damagd by toxins (great for me as I take too many over the counter pain killers to manage the headaches I get – my doctors answer was a coctail of drugs that stopped the pain but not the numerous other symptoms that I get alongside the headaches. Each tablet came with a whole list of side effects none of which were good for me or my body!)
- Digestion – Turmeric has been used as a digestive healing agent and there are studies on how turmeric can help with gut inflammation and gut permeability and it is being explored as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.
- Possibly reducing the risk of cancer- WOW the big one and one close to my heart! I have read that curcumin shows promise as a cancer treatment and that there are studies that suggest that it has proactive effects against pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma. How amazing could this be!
- Improves Brain function – curcumin can increase the brain levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) basically….and this part got quite technical, curcumin seems to help in delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function by boosting levels of the hormone BDNF. It may also improve memory (Another wow moment! )
- Helps with Depression – a small study showed that Curicum has shown some promise in treating depression.
What an amazing natural source of goodness! But are there any side effects?
Well like everything there are always downsides and I suppose in true Mother Nature fashion there has to be a balance. Some of the side effects that I discovered were that it can:-
- Irritate the the stomach when taken in large doses as it can stimulate the stomach into producing more gastric acid, which in some people can be good but others it will have a more negative affect. (I suppose like many of the natural remedies I have been looking, taking these supplements is a very personal journey. You really need to monitor your body carefully to find out what dose works for you. Everyone is an individual, with different needs and tolerances)
- Blood-thinning – the purifying properties of turmeric may lead to bleeding more easily. (so if you are taking blood thinning drugs either avoid taking it or seek medical advice first)
- Stimulates contractions – have you heard the old wives tales about eating a hot curry to bring on labour? I couldn’t see any data to prove this but did come across some references to turmeric easing symptoms of PMS.
So there was the good and bad of Turmeric but how can you get it into your system to reap the rewards.
- Firstly as supplements in tablet or capsule form. Make sure you research to find out the best product. Curcumin is notoriously difficult to absorb in the body and there are a couple of ways to boost that absorption. Micelles and Black pepper are two systoms that help absorprion. CurcuSym Boost uses Micelles which have been shown to aid absortion 185 times more that standard turmeric.
- Lattes – Turmeric Lattes are now sold in a variety of flavours and can boost your turmeric intake
- And of course IN YOUR FOOD! – Of course you get the best health benefits from the supplements but eating a healthy and varied diet can only help you. Check out the delicious recipe for vegetarian Chili Sin Carne using our Turmerlicious chili choc on our facebook page
I hope that this quick look into the benefits of turmeric helps and please don’t forget I am not medically trained. I am just interested in learing about natural remedies and discovering more natural ways to improve my life. I hope in doing this and sharing what I find that others may have a jumping off point to research and find prodcuts that suit them. As usual you should always seek medical advice before taking any supplements.