A well-known spice in Indian cuisine, Turmeric is also used for therapeutic purposes in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
The spice is termed the golden spice because of the beautiful yellow color to curries and other recipes. Golden milk made of Turmeric is an age-old recipe for healing wounds and managing arthritis pain.
Besides its culinary and medicinal use, it is also used in spiritual and religious settings. This highly-valued spice is also named Indian saffron.
The extract of Turmeric is available as a supplement form as well. It is rapidly gaining a reputation in western cultures owing to its many health benefits and fewer side effects.
What does this odd-shaped root contain that places it at such a high value in traditional and conventional therapeutic methods? Read on to know more about the health benefits of turmeric.
- The ingredient make-up of Turmeric
- Science-backed health benefits of Turmeric
- Other health benefits of turmeric
The ingredient make-up of Turmeric
The scientific name of the turmeric root is Curcuma longa, which is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant. It belongs to the ginger family Zingiberaceae. The plant is native to tropical regions of South Asia. About 133 species of Curcuma have been identified so far.
Researchers have isolated more than a hundred components from Turmeric. The primary yield of the root is a volatile oil, which contains turmerone. Other coloring agents present in Turmeric are called curcuminoids.
The different Curcuminoids present in Turmeric include:
- curcumin demethoxycurcumin
Curcumin caters to potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Curcumin is present in only 3% by weight in the root extract. It is also poorly absorbed in the body.
A majority of studies that prove its efficacy have used about one gram, which the traditional spice powder fails to deliver.
Piperine, black pepper extract, enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%. So Oral supplements of Turmeric with piperine remain the best source of reaping the benefits of Turmeric.
Science-backed health benefits of Turmeric
Let us have a sneak peek into some of the health benefits of Turmeric and the scientific support the root enjoys.
1. Anti-inflammatory action
Though present in small amounts in the root extract, the bioactive compounds curcumin are potent enough to protect the body from disease-causing free radicals and pro-inflammatory agents.
Inflammation is body’s natural response against invasion of disease-causing pathogens. But continuous low-grade inflammation that turns chronic is harmful to the body. Chronic inflammation is the primary causative factor of chronic diseases like cardiovascular ailments, degenerative disease of the brain (like Alzheimer’s) and joints (as arthritis), metabolic syndromes, different cancers, etc.
Curcumin in Turmeric has an anti-inflammatory action that is comparable to the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
What’s more? The efficacy of curcumin is found to be safe without any side effects.
Studies involving human trials found no toxic effects of the compound. The trial was conducted on 25 subjects who used up to 8000 mg of curcumin per day for three months. Another human trial involved individuals who used 1125-2500 mg of curcumin per day also reported it safe.
Curcumin delivers these anti-inflammatory benefits by blocking different pro-inflammatory markers at different stages.
2. Anti-oxidant activity
Free radicals damage our bodies like no other thing. Aging, degeneration, and disease; all of these are the results of free radical damage.
Curcumin not only neutralizes the free radical structure but also enhances the body’s natural anti-oxidant enzymes.
3. Boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor
Our brain is a wonder; it can form new connections and multiply and increase cells in certain areas. It owes this ability to brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a type of growth hormone specific to the brain.
Disease and aging cut back at the BDNF. Curcumin is shown to increase its levels, thereby having a protective effect against many brain diseases. The extract is found to slow and even regress degenerative brain diseases.
4. Improves memory
Owing to its ability to enhance BDNF, curcumin may improve your memory and make you sharper with improved focus. Studies have shown promising results in this regard.
5. Lowers the risk of cardiovascular ailments
Curcumin improves the condition and function of the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels. It thereby contributes to heart health. Its efficacy is comparable to the well-known drug Atorvastatin in this regard. Another study showed its effectiveness equal to doing exercise for heart ailments.
Still, another study proved curcumin’s efficacy in protecting from heart attacks in 121 people undergoing heart by-pass surgery.
6. Cancer prevention
Curcumin protects against cancer cells’ growth, development, and spread. This benefit is found true in many forms of cancers. The preventive role of curcumin is shown by a study where curcumin consumption was linked to a reduced number of colon lesions in 44 men.
7. Alzheimer’s disease protection
Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly and is the most common degenerative brain disease. It has no cure as yet, and prevention is the only solution. Curcumin is known to cross the ever-selective blood-brain barrier.
Owing to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, curcumin is an active topic of research against Alzheimer’s. In fact, it is shown to clear up the protein plaques typically found in the Alzheimer-affected brain.
8. Arthritis management
Arthritis is a degenerative disease of joints with debilitating effects. Again, curcumin’s effectiveness in managing arthritis symptoms is comparable to conventional medicine.
A study evaluated the efficacy of curcumin after administration of 200 mg curcumin per diem. WOMAC score, mobility, and inflammatory status were checked after three months of treatment with promising results. Another clinical trial seconded the effects of curcumin in managing arthritis symptoms.
9. Anti-depressive agent
Depression is linked to reduced amounts of BDNF and shrinkage of the hippocampus, a brain area associated with memory and learning.
Turmeric extract can rev up the production of serotonin and dopamine, the happy hormones in the brain.
Owing to its beneficial effects on BDNF, Turmeric in curcumin is proposed to render anti-depressive effects. A controlled trial showed encouraging results in this regard. The trial studied curcumin against Prozac, a common drug used for depression.
Other health benefits of turmeric
Some other health benefits of curcumin containing turmeric extract include;
- Immune booster
- Protects against ulcerative colitis remission
- Helps uveitis (inflammation of the iris in the eye)
- Anti-allergic effects as in hay fever
- Protective against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Helps itching in long-term kidney disease
- Reduce the severity of skin reactions caused by cancer drug treatment (chemotherapy-induced acral erythema)
- Help against iron build-up in beta-thalassemia patients
- Reduce the severity of asthma attacks, cut back the need for rescue inhalers and reduce nighttime awakenings in children
- Improve the symptoms of Crohn’s disease
- Effective for treating gingivitis, a gum disease
The benefits of turmeric is enormous and research has proven that herbal medicine is great alternative to modern medicine. Or in conjunction to treat illnesses.
If you want to reap the benefits of this renowned golden spice that stir both the medical and scientific arena.
Turmeric combined with Bioperine is the best way to take turmeric due to turmeric’s poor absorption rate. Research has shown that turmeric’s absorbability increases by 2000% when taken with Bioperine.
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