Finally, an All-Purpose Spice for Your Health: Turmeric

via Bryce Wylde

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Tumeric

As we walk through our local health food store with feelings of fascination, we can quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of supplements that surround us, and their following price tags. If this sounds like you, you’ll be quite relieved to learn about a spice that conquers many of your most popular concerns. The name is Curcuma longa, or more commonly known as Turmeric, and is the golden spice that gives the Indian dish curry its signature colour.
The powerful healing properties of Turmeric have been used for over 2,500 years in India and are only now becoming popular in the West. These healing properties are attributed to the active constituent known as Curcumin.
Prepare to be blown away by the following list of benefits that the West has been deprived of:

Powerful Anti-inflammatory:

Curcumin has demonstrated to be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. It is considered to be a potential non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory agent. In several studies, it has shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone, in addition to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Whereas these drugs have toxic side effects, curcumin is generally safe without any toxicity when used in the recommended amounts.

Antioxidant and Anti-Tumor Activity:

Curcumin’s role in cancer prevention is largely due to its antioxidant actions, which enable it to protect cells from free radical damage. Animal studies have found that curcumin can significantly impede the production of tumours, and inhibt the progression of colon and skin cancers. In a clinical trial, supplemental curcumin was found to improve the histology of precancerous lesions in patients with various forms of cancer.

Helps Indigestion, Ulcers and Heartburn:

Curcumin increases mucin content, thereby protecting the gastric mucosa against irritants. It has also been shown to have anti-spasmodic properties and increase bile acid production. Additionally, it is a promising treatment for indigestion, ulcers and heartburn.

Protects against Atherosclerosis:

Studies have shown that curcumin has been able to reduce platelets from clumping together, which in turn improves circulation and may help protect against atherosclerosis. Curcumin’s mechanism of action involves preventing oxidation of cholesterol in the body.

Lowers Cholesterol:

Curcumin has been shown to help in the metabolism and degradation of cholesterol in the blood. In a study, animals fed with curcumin and cholesterol had only half to one third of the serum and liver cholesterol levels compared to the controlled groups receiving cholesterol alone.

Slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease:

The production of beta amyloid plaques is known to contribute the pathology of Alzheimer’s Disease and researchers have found that curcumin inhibits this formation. They have also found that curcumin is able to pass the blood brain barrier and prevents amyloid fragments from clumping together into plaques. Also, studies in mice have shown that it may help to slow the progression of the disease by interrupting the destruction of the myelin sheath that protect nerves in the body.

Fights bacteria, fungi and viruses:

Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the growth of most organisms. These include Staphylococcus aureus (responsible for skin infections, pneumonia, and food poisoning) and Streptococci (best known for strep throat). It also shows anti-fungal activity against parasitic fungi. Curcumin has shown to be an effective ally in the treatment against HIV; it was effective in inhibiting the replication of HIV in both acutely infected and chronically infected cells.
Turmeric’s therapeutic uses have proven to be part of an extensive list which, surprisingly, doesn’t end here. However, the main problem with curcumin has always been its bioavailability. Unfortunately, it is not readily absorbed into the bloodstream, but choosing a reputable brand will provide you with patented ways of overcoming this issue. Furthermore, it is a great spice to cook with and shouldn’t be limited to just curries. You can try adding it to sautéed vegetables, salad dressings, omelettes and anything else you can think of, but be sure to mix it with a little black pepper which helps in its absorption.
As you can see turmeric really is the all purpose spice for your health. It is suitable for everyone, whether you would like to treat one of the ailments listed above, or simply to just compliment your daily health regime, and of course for anyone who is looking to get the most bang out of their buck!
So, if ever you feel overwhelmed at the health food store because of the myriad of supplements, you now know to go straight to the curcumin section.
The one pill that fixes most 🙂
References:
D’Souza Lesley.Tumeric the Golden Spice of Life. Vitality . 2011; 26(2).
Akhilender Naidu K, and Thippeswamy NB. Inhibition of human low density lipoprotein oxidation by active principles from spices. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry . 2002; 229 (1-2): 19-23.
Arbiser JL, Klauber N, Rohan R, Van Leeuwen R, Huang MT, Fisher C, Flynn E, Byers HR. Curcumin is an in vivo of angiogenesis. Molecular Medicine . 1998 Jun;4(6):376-83.
Balasubramanian K. Molecular Orbital Basis for Yellow Curry Spice Curcumin’s Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. J.Agric. Food Chem ., 2006;54 (10), 3512-3520.

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