Turmeric closely resembles its’ relative, ginger. It is probably best known as an ingredient in curries and mustard, and it gives both their yellow color. Turmeric has a warm, peppery, bitter flavor. The Chinese and Indians use turmeric as a spice and as an herbal medicine to treat inflammations. Turmeric is also used as a dye for textiles. Aside from being an anti-inflammatory, studies have shown that turmeric has other beneficial properties that can help treat certain diseases: from cancer to Alzheimer’s.
Turmeric: A Super Spice
The active ingredient found in turmeric is curcumin. As an antioxidant, curcumin eliminates free radicals in the body. Curcumin also has cancer-fighting properties. Lab studies have found that curcumin inhibits the growth of cancer cells in a controlled test tube environment. Turmeric is also a source of a number of vitamins and minerals including manganese, iron, and potassium. It also contains dietary fibers and Vitamin B6.
Multiple Health Benefits
- Turmeric is a safe though potent anti-inflammatory treatment: Turmeric was used an anti-inflammatory medication even before scientists were able to study it. Subsequently, scientific studies showed that its volatile oil, curcumin, is responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory property.
- Turmeric aids in cancer prevention: Studies on the efficacy of turmeric in preventing the growth of cancer cells have revealed that the curcumin content of turmeric has a positive effect on preventing the growth of cancer cells, including prostate, skin, colorectal and breast cancer. Curcumin can inhibit enzymes and cellular activities that may cause the growth of cancer cells.
- Turmeric can be applied to cuts and wounds: Turmeric has natural, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. When applied to a wound, turmeric paste can prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. The wound and surrounding skin will heal faster by keeping the wound clean.
- Turmeric can improve the function of the liver: Recent studies conducted on rats show that turmeric can detoxify the liver by cleansing it. Turmeric has the ability to increase the number of enzymes that are responsible for cleaning the liver. The detoxification and anti-oxidation properties of the turmeric will help improve the function of the liver.
- Turmeric can be taken along with anti-inflammatory drugs: Studies have shown that patients can take turmeric along with other anti-inflammatory drugs without having any interactions or side effects. If taken regularly, it may reduce inflammation sufficiently to eliminate the necessity of other drugs. Ask your doctor before quitting any other medications.
Helps Everything From Ulcers From Alzheimer’s
- Gastric ulcer: A recent study found that turmeric can help heal ulcers. After taking turmeric for several weeks, those who used turmeric had fewer symptoms and some found their ulcer had been healed. The study found that turmeric can block the H2 histamine receptors which inhibit the production of gastric acid, preventing the formation of a gastric ulcer. These patients used turmeric supplements and not the powder product that is mixed with food.
- Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a condition which causes the skin to become scaly. Turmeric can treat psoriasis by triggering the growth of new skin cells, replacing old scaly skin. To achieve this, one applies turmeric paste to their skin. Note that the skin will become the color of turmeric for some time, but this will fade. (Related Article: Psoriasis Is Treatable, Take Hope From Kim Kardashian)
- Joint pain: The active ingredients of turmeric make it great for treating joint pain. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidation components which help ease joint inflammation which causes pain. The anti-oxidant will scavenge the free radicals causing the inflammation of the joints and prevent cell damage.
- Cyst: Cysts are bumps that grow on the surface of the skin, organs, or muscles. Cysts can be removed by surgery or by application of topical medications. Turmeric paste can be a substitute for the topical medications. The anti-inflammatory property of turmeric makes it useful for treating cysts.
- Alzheimer’s disease: The exact cause of Alzheimer’s is still unknown. However, studies suggest that inflammation of blood vessels in the brain leads to brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have found that turmeric lowers the incidence of Alzheimer’s by reducing inflammation.
Possible Side Effects
- Stomach upset: Due to its spiciness, consuming too much turmeric may lead to stomach upset and irritation. To avoid this, moderate consumption, or simply take the spice in supplemental form. Make sure that the supplement has an enteric coating so that it dissolves in the intestines and not in the stomach.
- Lessens blood clotting: Turmeric prevents the blood from clotting, which may result in continuous bleeding and blood loss. Turmeric should be avoided by people already using anti-platelet or blood-thinning drugs because of possible drug interactions. (Related Article: Did You Know About These 4 Natural Anti-Coagulants?)
- Uterine stimulation: Turmeric can stimulate the uterus to menstruate, which could be a problem for women who are pregnant. Pregnant women should not use turmeric because of the increased possibility of inducing a miscarriage.
- Reduces effects of chemotherapy: Studies have found that turmeric can interact with chemotherapy, reducing its effectiveness. It is not known why, but it is advised that persons undergoing chemotherapy should not use turmeric.
- Heartburn: Some patients have reported heartburn after consumption of turmeric. Studies have shown that people taking anti-ulcer drugs are more likely to have heartburn after ingesting turmeric.
Turmeric is widely considered one of the best natural anti-inflammatory medicines today. The active ingredient is curcumin, is also an excellent antiseptic. Other compounds in turmeric also have antibacterial properties, making it excellent for wound cleaning and healing. Curcumin has been found to lower the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in animal studies. Turmeric reduces the risk of prostate, skin, colorectal and breast cancer. This may be due to its rich levels of antioxidants.