The spice that is on almost every shelf and cabinet in India has recently become popular because of its many health benefits. Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice that goes well with curry and other Asian cuisines.
While turmeric is a spice with a distinctive flavor, it has also been traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat a wide range of conditions, including skin diseases, inflammatory conditions, wounds, digestive issues and liver problems.
Science has recently started to back up these claim about turmeric being used for its medicinal properties. But questions still remain regarding where exactly this spice comes from. And, more importantly, what constituents are in this spice that contribute to its many benefits?
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice that comes from the turmeric plants. Its botanical name is Curcuma longa and it is native to India and primarily grown in Asia. In recent years, this plant has attracted a lot of attention because of its natural abilities to heal the body, but it has actually been used for that same purpose for over 4,500 years.
Turmeric has emerged as an important part of Ayurvedic medicine since 500 B.C., and they even have over 100 different terms for this plant, including “Jayanti” meaning “one who is victorious over diseases.”
It was said that they used turmeric in Ayurveda by inhaling the burning fumes of this plant to alleviate congestion. The juices of this plant were also used to help heal wounds and a variety of skin conditions like smallpox, chicken pox and even shingles in the form of a topical paste.
But, what gives this vibrant yellow root its benefits?
Although the whole turmeric plant is special, the medical properties of this plant are mostly found in its roots. The roots contain compounds known as curcuminoids, and the most important curcuminoid is known as curcumin.
Curcumin is an active ingredient in turmeric that has exceptional biological properties, powerful anti-inflammatory capabilities and is known as a very strong antioxidant. Despite the curcumin content of turmeric not being that high, most studies are still attributing this plants’ medicinal abilities to the 3 percent of curcumin present.
The Many Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric has been called nature’s cure-all, and considering all the ailments and conditions that it helps treat, its new nickname isn’t that far off.
Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
The organic compound in turmeric known as curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to have significant improvements in the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease.
Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
One of the main benefits of curcumin when it comes to heart health is the ability to improve the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of your blood vessels that is considered an important aspect of your heart.
Curcumin also reduces inflammation and oxidation, which plays an essential role in heart disease as well.
Boosts Brain Function and Lowers the Risk of Brain Disease
Curcumin is known to boost the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, which is a brain hormone that increases the growth of new neurons in the brain while fighting odd multiple degenerative processes in your brain.
Neutralizes Free Radical Damage
Since curcumin has powerful antioxidant effects, it has the ability to neutralize free radical damage by itself as well as stimulate your body’s own antioxidant enzymes, which can help treat and prevent a variety of diseases associated with free radical damage.
Curcumin found in turmeric has been studied as an important herb in cancer treatment. It has been found effective in reducing cancer growth, the development of cancer and even the spread of cancer at a molecular level.
Turmeric has also been used for the following ailments:
- Joint pain
- Intestinal gas
- Loss of appetite
- Liver problems
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Menstrual complications
- Stomach ulcers
- Crohn’s disease
Although this list of ailments that turmeric has been known to help treat might seem long, the benefits of this root don’t stop there. Turmeric has also been known to help reduce headaches and migraines, colds and lung infections. But aside from that, turmeric has also been used to treat various skin conditions. Studies are still being examined for the effectiveness of turmeric, but so far research has deemed this ancient root helpful for a plethora of illnesses.