Used in India since ancient times, this wonder herb is gaining popularity all over the world for its medicinal properties and layered flavor.
Turmeric is used extensively in India not only in cooking but also in Ayurveda. Off late a lot of research has been put in in modern science recognizing turmeric as a revolutionary alternative to steroids and a lot of other medicines with harmful side effects.
Turmeric consists of a compound called Curcuma, which constitutes 3% of turmeric composition. Research has shown Curcuma to help in stalling the growth of a particular enzyme that turns environmental toxins (mainly derived from tobacco in the form of smoking or chewing) into carcinogens in the body.
Curcuma is a by-product of turmeric and so by definition turmeric and curcuma are not the same. Turmeric has all the health benefits of curcuma as well as all the other beneficial compounds it has, whereas curcuma does not have the benefits of the other compounds found in turmeric.
How to effectively consume turmeric?
The body does not easily absorb the compounds found in turmeric. The compound piperine found in pepper greatly increases the absorption and effectiveness of these compounds. This is why, next time you look up a recipe using turmeric, you will find that it most likely also has pepper as an ingredient.
Let us innumerate the health benefits of including turmeric in our day-to-day lives:
Reduces inflammation and is a natural painkiller
Prolonged Inflammation in the body can lead to diseases like cancer, chronic pain, arthritis, ulcers, etc.
Compounds found in turmeric have been researched upon and studies show that consuming turmeric is the most effective way of reducing inflammation in the body. It even beats medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen hands down.
Its anti inflammatory properties help in reducing pain as they inhibit the functions of inflammatory chemicals in the body. Turmeric has been known to help reduce pain post surgeries as well as in the case of burns and cuts. It has shown positive effects in treating pain (feeling of pins and needles being poked in the body) arising due to damaged nervous system.
Aids digestion and maintaining a healthy gut
Curcumin has been known to have anti-inflammatory properties and is a rich source of anti oxidants as well. In combination these properties help in negating bacterial infections from the digestive tract.
The carminative properties of turmeric are known to reduce bloating and aid in digestion.
Because of its anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric helps in controlling Pylori infections, formation of ulcers and soothing of inflammations, which in turn lead to protection from gastro esophageal acid refluxes.
It is best to avoid taking high doses of turmeric on an empty stomach, as it has been known to trigger acid reflux in some people.
The above properties have also been known to aid in treatment of inflammatory bowel disease as well as reduce abdominal pain and improve bowel movements.
Turmeric consists of lipopolysaccharide as well as anti bacterial, anti viral and anti fungal compounds which all together help in making the immunity system strong thus protecting against flu and cough and cold. It also helps in reducing the onset and effects of asthma.
A warm glass of milk with a teaspoon of turmeric and a pinch of pepper is the perfect recipe for soothing aggrieved nerves. The pepper will help in magnifying the benefits of turmeric in the body.
Consumed regularly, this yummy drink can help you say bye to infections for good.
Helps in fighting cancer
Research has shown that curcumin compound found in turmeric successfully manipulates more than 20 biochemical targets in the body, which helps in killing cancer cells. Treatment of as many as 56 types of cancers has been known to be positive when turmeric use was added to the therapy.
Nowadays one of the major challenges faced by the doctor and the patient is the resistance of cancer cells to the chemo and radiation therapy.
Turmeric is an anti angiogenic agent because it helps in constraining the activity of proteins which help the growth of new blood vessels thus preventing these blood vessels from turning into cancer cells.
Not only does it stop the growth of cancer cells, turmeric also helps in restricting metastasis or the spread of cancer to the other body parts. Studies have successfully been conducted on prostate and thyroid cancer patients.
Turmeric paralleled with cancer treatment like chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, has been known to help the patient respond better to these treatments. Curcumin increases the sensitivity of the cancer cells, making them weaker against chemotherapy thus eradicating them faster from the body.
Similarly positive effects have been noted in success of radiation therapy when combined with turmeric use, in reducing tumor growth as opposed to giving only radiation.
Turmeric aides in killing the cancerous cells, but unlike the side effect of harsh therapy and radiation, it does not kill good and normal cells in the body. It also helps in protecting the body from formation of new tumors because of radiation.
If consumed regularly over a long period of time, turmeric has been known to prevent the onset of cancer in the very first place.
Quickly heals external injury
With natural anti septic and anti bacterial properties, turmeric has been used as a disinfectant since time immemorial. In cases of severe deep cuts where in bleeding is uncontrolled, sprinkling a liberal amount of turmeric on the wound instantly stops the blood flow.
Also in case of burns, sprinkling turmeric on them helps in healing them faster. It is also effective in treating skin problems like psoriasis, acne, damaged skin etc.
Helps in strengthening of bones
The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric majorly help in treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Curcumin has been known to reduce inflammations, improve the antioxidant protection, restructure autoimmune reactions, destroy harmful free radicals and protect bone cells in the body, thus reducing the harshness of various kinds of arthritis.
Taking curcumin supplementation, whether through food or as a supplement on a regular basis, majorly helps in reducing joint pain, improve mobility of joint function, protect bone tissue and strengthening of bones.
Since ancient times turmeric has played a major role in healing bone fractures. Topically turmeric paste is applied on the affected part and turmeric milk is used for internal supplementation and fastened healing.
Turmeric not only controls the inflammation but also helps in reducing the pain. Its compounds also help in rebuilding bones and protecting bone tissues.
Turmeric has been known to reduce muscle pain and inflammation. It also helps in dealing with disorders like osteoporosis, sarcoma etc.
Reduces brain damage
Most common cause of mind sicknesses and diseases is brain inflammation. Turmeric helps in reducing brain inflammation as well as clears away plaque deposits in the brain.
Reduction in plaque improves the oxygen flow to the brain resulting in improved memory and increased mental chelating activity. This significantly helps in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Turmeric has been known to have nerve protective properties along with its anti- inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These in turn help in reducing stress, treating depression, bi polar disorders, Parkinson’s disease as well as helps in boosting memory. Age related mental health deterioration has been known to improve with regular use of turmeric in the diet.
Helps in balancing insulin levels
Sustained use of turmeric in the daily diet has been known to be the best natural treatment for controlling diabetes.
When used in combination with diabetes medicines, turmeric has been known to vastly improve the positive effects of the medicines taken. Not only does it help in lowering blood sugar but studies have also found it to help in reversing the effects of insulin resistance.
Activated protein kinase (AMPK) helps in improving insulin sensitivity in the body, which in turn can also lead to reversal of Type 2 diabetes. Curcumin has been found to be 400% more effective in increasing AMPK in the body than the common diabetic drug Metformin.
The anti inflammatory and anti oxidant properties of turmeric have been found to delay damage of blood vessels which cause blindness, a sad complication arising out of diabetic retinopathy. Other side effects of insulin resistance and hyperglycemia also go on the decline with daily turmeric intake.
Helps maintain a healthy heart
Free radicals, oxygen free radicals, blood clots and thickening of blood are a few major causes for heart problems.
Curcumin helps sifting out the free radicals from the body, which worsen heart damage over time.
It has blood-thinning properties and so is very effective in preventing growth of blood clots, thus reducing the risk of getting a stroke. As opposed to allopathic blood thinning medications like aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen etc. turmeric is free of side effects like excessive bleeding, headaches and hemorrhage.
It is advisable not to consume curcumin supplements with blood thinning medication as it may result in an adverse condition.
Turmeric helps in reducing LDL cholesterol, which is considered to be bad for the heart. It also helps in reducing tension in the walls of the blood vessels, which ensures smooth blood flow and helps in reducing hypertension.
A reduction in the above problems significantly reduces the risk of getting a heart attack.
Turmeric has been proven to be a very effective instrument in maintaining dental and oral care.
Its anti inflammatory properties help in treating gingivitis, a condition where the gums get inflamed due to the collection of plaque on the teeth. It can be used as an effective mouthwash to fight plaque as opposed to using over the counter drugs with equal benefits.
Application of turmeric gel on the gums helps in reducing inflammation and relieving pain.
Brushing with turmeric helps in whitening the teeth. This might seem surprising, but the yellow color does not stain the teeth!
Curcumin gel can be applied on ulcers in the mouth to fasten their healing process.
Saves from harmful side effects of allopathic medications
Allopathic medication has been known to have a lot of side effects. Listing below a few of them:
- Increased menstrual flow
- Low blood pressure
- Increased risk of Internal bleeding
- Brain hemorrhage
- Medicine resistance
- Putting on weight
- Loosing excessive weight
Prolonged usage of turmeric helps in maintaining the overall well being of the body. In some cases turmeric can completely replace allopathic medicines, in some places it helps better the effects of allopathic medicines also reducing their side effects and in some cases turmeric usage stops the advancement of illnesses.
Protects Liver and Gall Bladder
Turmeric not only helps in reducing inflammation in the liver and gall bladder but it also helps in getting rid of unwanted toxins and metals that collect in the body due to excessive smoking and drug abuse.
Turmeric has chelating properties wherein it binds itself to all the harmful and unwanted metals in the body and flushes them out of the system.
Gastric, liver and brain inflammation arising due to excessive intake of alcohol also reduces with prolonged intake of turmeric.
Turmeric helps in killing as well as stalling the growth of cells that lead to development of liver fibrosis.
Regular consumption of turmeric helps in stopping the formation of stones in the gall bladder.
Side Effects of Turmeric use
When consumed through our daily diets, turmeric per se has not shown any side effects. 8 grams of turmeric, consumed daily through our diets is completely safe. Supplemental intake though should be taken in consultation with the doctor. A few side effects that might happen are as follows:
When taken on empty stomach it can cause acid reflux.
It has a tendency to shrink the gall bladder, so anyone suffering from gall bladder stones should not take curcumin supplements without consulting the doctor.
Because it has blood- thinning properties, it should not be taken in combination with allopathic blood thinning medicines.
The bottom line is that turmeric is a wonder herb; it is full of therapeutic and medicinal properties that if consumed over a long period of time, will help one in staying healthy, young and strong all through their lives.