What is turmeric good for? As the buzzword of the moment, turmeric is being touted as the a spice that may potentially be helpful in the fight against all kinds of diseases from Alzheimer’s, to cancer, and much more.
It’s seemingly endless potential for helping with so many diseases may make you want to rush out to the nearest health food store to stock up on these super supplements. But you should wait before you spend your money, and be aware that these supplements are not all created equal and that the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is particularly true here.
After extensive research, I have discovered what I believe are the top 10 curcumin benefits, and probably at least one or two of them apply to everyone. Common problems such as obesity, heart disease, depression, and degenerative disease affect so many of us at some point and they can ALL be helped with this wonder spice.
Turmeric (botanical name curcuma longa) is a a plant that is part of the ginger family and is native to Southeast Asia. It has been used medicinally for over 4,500 years, and has long served as part of Ayurvedic medicine, which is an Indian system of healing still widely used all over the world to this day.
The difference between the powdered root and supplements:-
Turmeric supplements can come in all kinds of strengths, and it’s the extracted compound called curcumin that gives it its bright yellow colour is where its magic lies.
What is turmeric used for?
The ordinary turmeric powder that we all know and cook with, is literally the ground down dried root with nothing added and nothing taken away. It is used in curries and other Indian type spicy food dishes. It is also great in sweets, deserts, hot milks, and homemade turmeric paste which is used medicinally.
This turmeric powder in itself only contains 2% of the active compound curcumin, and is why supplementation of higher dose extracted curcumin is often recommended for therapeutic effect, but doseage also this is also highly depends on your reasons for using it.
For example, preventative supplementation usually only requires a much lower dose than the amount needed to actually ease a problem once you already have it.
WHAT IS TURMERIC GOOD FOR? Top 10 Curcumin Benefits:-
1. ANTI INFLAMMATORY
Inflammation plays an important part in fighting invading pathogens and repairing damage in the body. But inflammation is only beneficial in the short term, and long term inflammation can be a big problem.
It is now believed that chronic, long term inflammation, may play a big role in a myriad of chronic Western diseases, including Alzheimer’s, some cancers, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and degenerative conditions.
The curcumin in turmeric is a powerful bioactive anti inflammatory able to fight inflammation at the molecular level. Several studies have shown its potency matches that of anti inflammatory drugs, but without the nasty side effects. This is the kind of amazing potential we’re talking here! Imagine being able to use a curcumin supplement to fight what could otherwise be a deadly disease without any drugs? It certainly would something that deserves further investigation.
2. ANTI AGING BOTH INSIDE AND OUT
Dermatologists agree that eating antioxidant rich foods, along with not smoking, avoiding high stress levels, staying out of the sun, and always using an SPF cream to be the most powerful ways to slow down the aging process.
This is where turmeric can help being as curcuim is a POWERFUL antioxidant, and due to its chemical structure has the power to neutralise free radicals, stopping them from doing damage in the body. It also has the power to boost the body’s own natural antioxidant mechanisms.
Antioxidant’s fight oxidative damage!
Oxidative damage is one of the main mechanisms behind most disease and the aging process in general, therefore supplementing with a powerful antioxidant such as curcumin can help counteract this. The antioxidants in curcumin are comparable to those of vitamin E and C for scavenging the free radicals responsible for oxidative stress, whilst also raising the levels of antioxidant enzyme.
3. CURCUMIN AND HEART DISEASE
There is a certain process on the path to heart disease, and curcumin can play a role in reversing many of these steps towards it. The main benefit being improvement in the lining of the blood vessels. Endothelial (the technical name for these blood vessels) dysfunction plays a major role in heart disease mainly because the endothelium, along with its other roles, regulates blood clotting and blood pressure.
4. TURMERIC FOR MUSCLES AND BONES
All of these weaken with age and as tissues in the joints alter, preventing the surface of the joints from sliding together easily. All of this is not only painful, but can cause damage and affect motion. Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and sarcopenia are the main diseases affecting the musculoskeletal system of older people.
A study of the anti-arthritic potential of curcumin on bone cells, suggest that the anti inflammatory effects of curcumin make taking a supplement well worth while, especially for the long term management of these conditions.
5. BRAIN AGING
With age, parts of the brain begin to shrink which can cause memory loss and a decline in cognitive performance. The changes in blood vessels can cause dementia, Alzheimer’s, or even bring on a stroke. The curcumins in turmeric that serve as a powerful anti inflammatory AND antioxidant, can act as a neuroprotective agent on the brain.
Curcumin can also control the oxidative stress of Parkinson’s disease by reducing neurotransmitter toxicity, and even delayed cucumin supplementation can still give protection against stroke damage – so it’s never too late!
5. TURMERIC FOR VISION
Your vision is affected in many ways as you age, which can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye and retinal detachment – to name just a few.
Due to turmeric’s strong antioxidant properties, supplementation can help act as a preventative due to the fact that oxidative stress is a direct cause of most eye conditions.
6. TURMERIC AND DIABETES
Curcumin can be therapeutic for those suffering from diabetes by helping to deal with the associated complications, such as cholesterol problems, nephropathy, retinopathy and neuropathy. This is all due once again to its amazing anti inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
7. BOOSTED IMMUNE SYSTEM
The benefits of a strong immune system are obvious as pretty much every illness, disease, and virus requires a strong immune system to help fight it off. Turmeric can help stimulate the immune system to fight off foreign invaders, AND control immune response to inflammation.
8. WEIGHT CONTROL
As obesity causes chronic low grade inflammation in the body, it in turn heightens your risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and metabolic syndrome. Curcumin, being such a powerful antioxidant, suppresses the inflammatory messages in the fat, muscle and pancreas cells, all of which help with blood sugar levels, cholesterol, insulin resistance and other conditions associated with being overweight.
I wouldn’t say you can just use curcumin supplements alone to lose weight, if you do you may be disappointed – rather use them alongside regular exercise, and a healthy plant based diet that contains lots of proven fat burning foods.
9. ANTI CANCER
There are many different types of cancer but they do all have some commonalities, which research suggests may be affected by a curcumin supplement. This works by affecting at a molecular level, the cancers growth, spread and development.
Multiple studies are showing that curcumin can not only reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, but also reduce the cancer spreading, and contribute to killing cancerous cells. These studies so far have only been conducted in a laboratory on test animals and have yet to be studied on humans, but it looks promising.
Apart from this, turmeric, with its high level of antioxidants, can reduce your risk of cancer in the first place, especially digestive system cancers.
10. CURCUMIN BENEFITS DEPRESSION
Is there nothing this super spice isn’t good for? Some studies are showing curcumin to be AS EFFECTIVE as an antidepressant drug, due to its ability to boost the neurotransmitters of the brain, dopamine and serotonin.
It’s worth noting here that turmeric is more greatly absorbed by the body when taken with a little black pepper and fat. Many supplement providers take this into account and add extra ingredients to help make the curcumin compounds more bio available in the body.
If you add this spice frequently to food, then you will naturally be having other compounds that up absorption along with it, such as fats and pepper.
Anxiety and depression need various treatments:-
As anxiety and depression is a big area with so many causes and other factors, it must be said (and I’m speaking from personal experience) that these mental issues usually need more than any one variable to be helped in the long term.
For maximum benefits when it comes to mental health issues you should eat a healthy low GI diet to keep blood sugar stable, and you MUST take regular exercise (weight bearing is best) as it will really help burn off the stress hormone cortisol, and also send a cascade of feel good chemicals through your body.
If depression is your issue then you will need to be sure you are doing these other depression busting tips along with turmeric.
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Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially whilst taking other medications, or during pregnancy or breast feeding due to possible interactions.
Start with smaller doses and build up depending on your gut tolerance. Sometimes stomach ache or diarrhea may be experienced if dosage is too high to begin with. Turmeric has blood thinning qualities and should therefore be avoided 2 weeks before an operation, OR if you are already on blood thinning medications.
If you would like to leave any comments or questions about the subject of turmeric, or your own experiences whilst using it, then I would love to hear from you. You can post in the comments box below. Thank you.