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Health Benefits of Turmeric

turmeric in white bowl

Turmeric is an ancient spice used in Asian, Indian and Central American cuisines (particularly curry dishes). Throughout history it has been renowned for its medicinal properties in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is still commonly used today for liver issues, digestive problems, inflammation, wounds and skin conditions. In truth, this amazing herb and spice has been a medicinal for over 4,500 years.

 

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turmeric flowerAppearance

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial herbaceous plant with large alternate leaves. The plant has beautiful yellow flowers with pink bracts.

Turmeric grows up to 3 feet tall with a width of around 18 inches.

Although the plant prefers warm/hot and wet climates, it can easily be dug up and overwintered in northern environments.

In fact, turmeric is quite resilient and will most always come back in the spring.  Moreover, just one rhizome increases to hundreds more within a few years with little or no effort.

In addition, the plant adds a nice tropical look to your garden with large green and white inflorescences flowers.  Furthermore, turmeric is a wonderful addition for culinary and medicinal use.  

Uses throughout History

In India, the dried root is often used in curry powder for its flavor and color. Thai cuisine uses the shoots and inflorescences as a vegetable. Many Thai cultures also use turmeric to treat cobra bites. In Chinese medicine, turmeric roots are used to stimulate circulation, assist clots and bruises.

turmeric on white spoon

Curcumin

Many researchers agree that the curcumin found in turmeric can be attributed to its life-giving properties. Most specialists say that curcumin (curcuminoid polyphenols) is the primary antioxidant in turmeric root which is accountable for the majority of its health benefits.

It is also curcumin that gives turmeric its bright and vibrant orange color. As well, the color is similar to saffron and is often a less expensive substitute. Actually, many products on the market that contain saffron actually used turmeric as well so less saffron can be used.

Prevent Heart Attacks

According to Huffington Post, turmeric is the essential spice in curry and one of the healthiest ways to add flavor and color to a dish.  In a 2012 study, the curcumin found in turmeric was shown to prevent heart attacks among bypass patients. The study from Thailand tracked 121 patients who had bypass surgery from 2009 and 2011. Three days prior to surgery and five days after surgery, half of the patients took curcumin capsules and the other half took placebo pills. Reports show that about 30 percent of the patients in the placebo group experienced a heart attack compared to 13 percent of the curcumin group. The researchers concluded that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin may lower the chance of heart attack among bypass patients by up to 65 percent.

turmeric leaves

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Research shows that turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.  Proper inflammation is very important. It is a beneficial and normal process when the body’s white blood cells protect you from external intruders such as viruses and bacteria. In fact, to stay healthy you need some inflammation in the body. However, levels of inflammation can get out of balance. For instance, if your immune system falsely triggers an inflammatory response when there is no inflammation present it can lead excess inflammation. This excess may cause other issues like heart disease, allergies, asthma, cancer, autoimmune disease and other inflammation related difficulties.

Antioxidant Properties

The curcumin in turmeric contains powerful antioxidant properties. In fact, studies show that curcuminoids actually search for free radicals that are in the body and then neutralize them.  In result, this makes curcumin an amazing herb that may help numerous conditions:

  • Slows down the aging process
  • Helps the body cope with pain and inflammation  
  • Protection from cancer, tumors and cell mutation
  • Helps lower oxidative stress (the key to heart issues)
  • Prevents numerous chronic diseases by attacking free radicals
  • Protects the heart by eliminating oxidized cholesterol from body

Other Health Benefits of Turmeric

According to WebMD, turmeric is used for a wide variety of conditions such as heartburn (dyspepsia), arthritis, ulcerative colitis, stomach pain, joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, stomach bloating, Crohn’s disease, gallbladder disorders, high cholesterol, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, jaundice, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, lichen planus (a skin condition), fatigue, bypass surgery, hemorrhage, intestinal gas, loss of appetite, liver problems and stomach ulcers.

Rendering to WebMD, turmeric is also used for bronchitis, fibromyalgia, headaches, depression, diabetes, tuberculosis, itchy skin, Alzheimer’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), ( an autoimmune disease), urinary bladder inflammation, menstrual problems, kidney problems,  colds, lung infections, leprosy, fever, recovery after surgery and various  cancers. Other uses include swelling in the middle layer of the eye (anterior uveitis), water retention, worms, leech bites, skin sores, eye infections, gum disease, an enema for inflammatory bowel disease, sprains and swellings, bruising, acne, inflammatory skin conditions, soreness in the mouth and infected wounds.

Side Effects

Conferring to WebMD, turmeric is likely safe when taken orally or applied to the skin for up to 8 months. It is possibly safe as a mouthwash or enema for short term use. Although turmeric does not have noteworthy side effects; some people can experience diarrhea, nausea, stomach upset or dizziness.

Some reports show that turmeric can make gallbladder problems worse.  Turmeric may also slow blood clotting which might increase the risk of bleeding bruising and bleeding if you have a bleeding disorder. Consult a specialist before taking turmeric if you are diabetic. Turmeric may lower your blood sugar.  

For pregnancy and breast-feeding, turmeric is likely safe when taken in typical amounts found in food. However, it is likely unsafe if it is taken orally and may stimulate the uterus or encourage a menstrual period.

turmeric plant

Tips for Better Absorption

Unfortunately, curcumin does not absorb easily into the bloodstream.  However, adding black pepper to your turmeric dishes can enhance the absorption rate by 2000%.

Cayenne or other hot peppers can also boost curcumin absorption. However, many choose fresh black peppercorns because the flavor is not as intense as cayenne.

Other helpful ways to increase the bioavailability in turmeric include mixing this amazing spice with fats such as olive oil, coconut oil or flaxseed oil. 

As well, mixing curcumin with quercetin increases absorption. Quercetin is a flavonoid found in several plants like citrus fruits, red grapes, apples and onions.

curry lentil soup

Turmeric Recipes

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup for Colds

Curried Cauliflower Soup Recipe

Easy Weekend Meal | Fall Harvest Vegetable Curry

Disclaimer

This article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and suggestions are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or issue including depression. Use products only as directed.

As well, consult a physician or specialist before using any products or changing your lifestyle, especially if you are pregnant or nursing, have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications.

Great Sources


 

turmeric powder

Picture credit

Turmeric in white bowl by stevepb from pixaby
Turmeric on white spoon by Ajale from pixaby
Fresh turmeric by omking36 from pixaby
Turmeric plant: D.Eickhoff Pua ʻōlena via photopin (license)
Turmeric flower: Edsel L Turmeric blossom via photopin (license)
Turmeric leaves: Edsel L turmeric via photopin (license)
Turmeric powder in gunny sack: Vilb1 turmeric—curcuma-longa via photopin (license)

Mary

With over 40 years of living green and supporting a sustainable environment, we are proud to offer the finest green products and reviews on the market.

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