Spices have been used since for hundreds of years because of their various benefits in enriching the taste in food as well as its health benefits. One such spice, the turmeric, is a known to be a miracle. Turmeric is a flowering tropical plant native to India, and it comes from the root of Curcuma longa. Scientists have found remnants of turmeric in pottery shards, which proves the usage of turmeric for cooking in Asia, 4,500 years ago! Turmeric exhibits beneficial healing properties, and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, dating back 5,000 years ago in India.
Turmeric is used drily for the preparation of curry powder, making it an important spice in South Asian cuisine. Turmeric roots can also be grated and used for cooking.
Aside from cooking, it is been known that turmeric is effective in treating diabetes, arthritis, psoriasis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and cancer.
The article below will explain the various benefits of turmeric, the usage of turmeric supplements and how you can use turmeric to enhance your life.
Benefits to the health
Turmeric, when applied topically, can treat skin diseases and wounds. It is effective when used to treat allergies, colds, arthritis, gallstones and digestive issues. Turmeric paste is traditionally applied to the faces of the bride and groom in marriage ceremonies in some parts of Pakistan, Indian and Bangladesh, to bring them good luck.
Turmeric is also used for beauty, with the rising popularity of turmeric soaps and creams. It is believed that these turmeric products can enhance ones beauty.
Turmeric and Curcumin and Curry Powder
Turmeric, curcumin and curry powder are three different things. These terms should not be used interchangeably, even if you do see it written in numerous websites or newspapers. Curry powder is made up of turmeric mixed with various other different spices.
Curcumin is a type of compound which is found in turmeric. Curcumin, which is also found in ginger, exhibits unique, powerful characteristics, which can provide a lot of good health effects to its consumer. Such is the power of turmeric, that in many health websites, it has been shown that turmeric can treat, cure or manage more than 600 ailments.
However, it must be noted the focus of many of the research was done, not on turmeric, but curcumin.
Curcumin is effective in treating many various ailments. Studies have showed that this compound reduces allergies and arthritic paints, control diabetes, lower heart attack risks, cure depression and break up brain plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, very little studies on turmeric and its efficacy has been conducted, thus leading to a lack of evidence to support the use of turmeric in curing any ailments. Researches are usually for easily carried out when there is an isolated compound, where it can be researched as a drug, rather than a spice.
Added to this, turmeric is a household item used in our daily lives. It can’t be patented to guarantee monetary returns to the research companies, hence the lack of clear cut scientific research upon turmeric. Even though there is a lack of scientific evidence in the efficacy of turmeric, it has been shown that turmeric is still an amazing spice.
- About 10 types of antioxidants
- More than 20 antibiotic compounds
- 14 known cancer preventatives
- 12 anti-tumor properties
- 12 anti-inflammatories
These contents of turmeric make it a powerful anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial compound.
Turmeric can also help in the treatment of:
In cases of osteoarthritis, turmeric promotes a long-term improvement in pain and function. It is recommended that one capsule (400-600 mg) be taken, three times a day. In the absence of turmeric supplements, 0.5 – 1.0 gram up to 3 grams of powdered turmeric roots ingested can also help.
The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric are effective in dealing with arthritis, which is a common inflammatory disease in U.S. It is shown that S650 million is spend in the U.S. to treat arthritis
There has been a link between turmeric consumption and the older villagers in India, who have the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s in the world. This is because there are more than 200 ingredients in the turmeric being studied, which can actually prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury and stroke are examples of degenerative brain diseases. Turmerone, which is found in turmeric, promotes the production of new neurons. This is stimulation to the brain, to make it repair itself, when damaged.
According to Dr. Saraswati Sukumar, the medical oncologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the turmeric’s anticancer effect is enhanced when prepared in the food, rather than taken in the form of turmeric supplement. She had conducted a few hundred studies to see the effect of turmeric in the cases of cancer.
The anticancer property in turmeric allows it to enhance the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, which will only destroy the affected tumor cells. Turmeric and the cancer drugs will not cause harm to healthy cells in the body.
Turmeric lowers cortisol which is a stress hormone, and raises serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for our happiness. The turmeric is a completely natural treatment, absent of any harmful side-effects compared to antidepressant drugs. It has been proven that turmeric is actually more powerful than Fluoxetine. Fluoxetine is the generic name for the drug, Prozac.
Turmeric is so safe to use in depression, no restrictions are given. It can be used together with other natural antidepressants without harming the body.
Turmeric has an incredible antidepressant effect, and it has been proved to be more powerful than fluoxetine, which is the generic name for Prozac.
Natural Enhancement of Turmeric
Curcumin is usually not well absorbed in the human body, which means that it will pass through without being absorbed into our bloodstream. To enhance the absorption of Curcumin, turmeric should be added with black pepper. The piperine compound which is an ingredient in black paper increases the curcumin absorption by 2,000%! Curcumin is also a fat soluble compound. Cooking turmeric with oil will improve its bioavailability in our body. This is why Indian cuisines use sesame, coconut, peanut oil or butter-derived ghee when cooking foods with turmeric!
By boiling turmeric in water for 10 minutes, the curcumin’s solubility is increased by 12 times. Therefore, a turmeric tea ingredient will be an amazing way to incorporate the spice into your diet. It’s been known that the inhabitants in Okinawa, Japan, who drink a large amount of this tea, have some of the longest lifespan in the world, averaging in at about 81.2 years.
Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder is added to a cup of water, and let to simmer for 10 minutes. After that, strain the solution and pour it into a cup. However, taste of turmeric is bitter and medicinal-tasting, which can be slightly unpleasant. To help enhance its taste, there is the availability of a variant. The variant uses coconut oil, which increases the bioavailability of curcumin.
Liquid Gold Turmeric Tea
- Half teaspoon of turmeric powder
- One tablespoon of coconut oil
- Half cup of water
- Half cup of coconut milk ( Almond or regular milk can also be used)
- Honey or stevia (amount varies by the person)
Method of preparation:
- Add the turmeric powder into boiled water and let it gently simmer for 10 minutes
- Add coconut milk and coconut oil
- Heat the tea until it is warmed
- Add honey or stevia according to your taste.
For an enhanced buttery taste, substitute coconut oil with clarified Indian butter ghee. You can also experiment with the proportions of the ingredients.
For the powder supplement, it is recommended that 400-600mg be consumed, 3 times/day. Ensure that these products have 95% curcuminoids, black pepper extract or piperine
As said above, turmeric is often found in the form of a dried spice, or it could be purchased as a root. The following list is a suggestion of the dosage of turmeric for adults, by The University of Maryland’s Complementary Alternative Medicine Guide.:
- Dried, powdered root: 1-3 grams/day
- Fluid extract (1:1): 30-90 drops/day
- Cut root: 1.5-3 grams/day
- Tincture (1:2): 15-30 drops, 4 times/day
Side Effects of consuming Turmeric supplements
People, who are predisposed to the formation of kidney stones, will have an increased risk of forming new kidney stones. Other than that, turmeric consumption, when cooked with food, is completely safe.
Due to its numerous side effects, interactions and warnings, caution must be taken when dealing with turmeric supplement. Turmeric and Curcumin, though not the same, have their side effects reported less than one category, by websites like National Institutes of Health’s MedLine, Drugs.com, and RXlist.com.
These websites agree that there are certain times when Turmeric or Curcumin supplements should not be ingested, such as:
- Trouble conceiving a child
- Iron deficiency; turmeric inhibits the absorption of iron
- Presence of gallstones, or gallbladder diseases
- Pregnancy. The trigger of curcumin upon the uterus may increase the risk of miscarriage
- Hormone sensitive conditions: endometriosis, reproductive cancer, or fibroids of the uterus. Turmeric can act as an estrogen.
- Turmeric may worsen GERD, ulcers, and other stomach problems
- Turmeric may inhibit the actions of Tagamet, Zantac and Nexium, which is used to reduce stomach acid. Turmeric is known to increase stomach acid production
- Diabetes: Turmeric can increase the risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
- Impending surgeries within two weeks. Turmeric can raise the risk of bleeding.
- Turmeric supplements should not be ingested by persons taking diclofenac, aspirin, ibuprofen, clopidgrel, naproxen and warfarin, turmeric raises the risk of bleeding and bruising.