Turmeric, an orange-colored spice imported from India, is part of the ginger family and has been used for healing and as a staple in Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cooking for thousands of years. It is a powerful plant that is inexpensive, mild in taste, and benefits every system in the body. Western medical practitioners are now recognizing the many health benefits of turmeric. Adding turmeric to your diet is one of the best things you can do for long term health!
8 Benefits of Turmeric:
1. Powerful antioxidant
The antioxidant property of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric root, plays a major role in helping curb cancer. The antioxidants found in this extract have the potential to counteract and neutralize free radicals found in the body and have been shown to stop cancer cells from spreading. Curcumin also helps create the master anti-oxident, glutathione and inhibits inflammatory cytokine production.
2. Cancer Fighting
Studies looking into this potential cancer-fighting link have found curcumin may inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor, as well as inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells already existing. In a UCLA study, doctors found that curcumin blocks an enzyme that promotes the growth of head and neck cancer. Their study found that the cancer-promoting enzymes in the patients’ mouths were inhibited by the curcumin and thus prevented from advancing the spread of the malignant cells.
3. Helps Lower Inflammation
Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds. It can reduce inflammation by stimulating the adrenal glands so that they can release cortisone (natural steroid) that is used to treat inflammation. Curcumin extract is used to relieve arthritis symptoms by decreasing inflammation in the joints. It is also used to aid in other types of inflammation such as asthma, allergies, tendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
4. Natural Pain Relief
Turmeric is considered an effective and safe natural pain killer compared to pharmaceutical NSAIDs.
5. Cardiovascular Benefits
Build-up of plaque in the arteries that lead to athersclerosis was found to be drastically reduced with the use of curcumin in some clinical trials. It also aids in preventing blood clots by thinning blood thus reducing the chances of having a heart attack or stroke. For patients suffering from myocardial infarction, it improves the functioning of their hearts and can help to maintain a normal level of cholesterol in the body.
6. Digestive Benefits
Curcumin is used to support the digestive system. Bile is an important body fluid secreted by the liver to assist in digestion and normally stored in the gall bladder. Congestion in these organs can lead to the formation of gall stones. Since curcumin increases the solubility of bile, it assists in the elimination of gall stones. Those with irritable bowel syndrome have reported that curcumin extract helps to reduce the irritations.
7. Anti-bacterial and Anti-fungal Benefits
Curcumin has volatile oils that have anti-bacterial properties that can be applied to skin wounds to prevent bacterial infection.
8. Helps with Alzheimer’s disease
Increased accumulation of a protein known as amyloid in the brain can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin can prevent this disease by making sure that amyloid does not accumulate. Researchers from UCLA, the University of California, Riverside and the Human BioMolecular Research Institute have found that vitamin D3 plus curcumin may help stimulate the immune system to clear the brain of amyloid, which forms the plaques considered the hallmark of AD. That study was published in the July 2009 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Ways to use Turmeric:
As a supplement, curcumin is optimally consumed at 500 mg to 1 gram (1000 mg) per day. Studies have shown that it’s safe to consume up to 3.6 grams (3600 mg) per day of curumin extract.
Raw turmeric adds great flavor to soups, curries, salad dressings, juices and smoothies. You can find raw turmeric in the produce section. It looks like ginger root (just smaller) and is usually found near the ginger.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy turmeric is creamy turmeric tea!
1 cup coconut (or nut of choice) milk
1 piece of raw turmeric root or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp raw honey
1/4 tsp ginger
Heat the milk in a saucepan, stir in the spices and drizzle the honey on top. Enjoy!
By Anna Young