What does turmeric do for your health? This flavorful spice is notable for its potent antioxidant properties. And studies show turmeric benefits wellness by warding off conditions such as heart disease and arthritis.
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If you’ve ever eaten at an Indian restaurant, you’ve likely had some experience with turmeric.
Curry powder owes its yellow coloring to this spice. And turmeric adds more than just flavor to a dish; for centuries, it’s been prized in India as a medicinal herb.
Modern scientific research supports the idea that turmeric benefits health in potent ways. This spice has notable antioxidant properties; it can reduce free radicals in the body and diminish oxidative stress. Turmeric works hard to relieve chronic inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis, and it can help prevent heart disease and cancer. It provides support to the immune system, and research shows turmeric can stave off certain types of brain disease.
You can use fresh turmeric or turmeric powder for cooking. This spice is also packaged as a dietary supplement.
So, what is turmeric good for when it comes to your overall health journey? It’s time to find out.
In this article, we will:
- Explain what turmeric is
- Describe its role in Eastern medicine
- Explain the relationship between turmeric and curcumin
- List key health benefits of turmeric
- Explain how to take turmeric
What is turmeric?
Turmeric benefits the flavor of your meal and the health of your body, and this spice is part of the ginger group of herbs. It’s native to Southeast Asia; within this region, it’s perhaps most widely used in India. Turmeric is also known as turmeric root and Indian saffron. Its botanical names are Curcuma longa, Curcuma domestica and Curcuma aromatica.
This plant contains an underground stem that’s known as a rhizome. The rhizome is the part of this plant that’s cherished as a culinary spice. Turmeric’s rhizome is also the part used to promote wellness and healing.
What is turmeric good for in Eastern medicine?
The health benefits of turmeric have been heralded in certain Eastern cultures for centuries.
Over the years, this plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, and it’s played a key role in other Indian wellness traditions. And turmeric is a respected source of healing in China; it’s widely used in traditional Chinese medicine.
So, what does turmeric do in Eastern medicine? In Eastern traditions, turmeric benefits and treats these ailments:
- Skin conditions and disorders
- Issues regarding the upper respiratory tract
- Joint problems
- Issues concerning the digestive system, such as ulcerative colitis
What is the relationship between turmeric and curcumin?
Curcumin is a substance that’s naturally found in turmeric, and it’s part of a family of compounds known as curcumoids. It’s curcumin that gives turmeric its bright yellow hue.
Many of the health benefits of turmeric are attributable to curcumin and other curcumoids. Curcumoids have anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies show curcumin and related curcumoids can protect against conditions such as cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.
So, what does turmeric do for wellness? Research shows that this spice can be a powerful weapon against chronic disease.
Here are some science-backed health benefits of turmeric:
Turmeric benefit #1: Helps treat inflammation-related diseases such as arthritis and colitis
Turmeric has lots of anti-inflammatory qualities. With this in mind, it’s not surprising to learn that turmeric benefits inflammation-related diseases such as arthritis and ulcerative colitis.
A 2012 study looked at turmeric’s effect on rheumatoid arthritis and compared the effects of this spice with the effects of diclofenac sodium, an anti-inflammatory drug. The data showed that turmeric was a more effective arthritis treatment than the commonly used drug.
And research indicates that turmeric holds promise as a successful treatment for ulcerative colitis.
Turmeric benefit #2: May help prevent cardiovascular disease
The World Health Organization reports that heart disease is a leading cause of death all across the globe.
So, what does turmeric do for heart health? Turmeric benefits heart health in key ways, and it can help stave off cardiovascular disease.
This spice contains curcumin that can help strengthen and support the endothelium. The endothelium is the lining found within your blood vessels. If the endothelium isn’t functioning as it should, it can lead to heart disease. It can also cause issues with high blood pressure and blood clotting.
Research shows that curcumin can help bolster endothelial function. In a 2012 study, curcumin was comparable to exercise in its ability to improve an age-related decline in endothelial function.
A 2008 study looked at the effect of curcuminoids on patients with type 2 diabetes. The curcuminoids were shown to be just as effective as a statin drug in preventing heart disease and strokes.
Turmeric benefit #3: May help prevent and treat cancer
Cancer is an all too common ailment in this country. It occurs when cancer cells overtake healthy cells; in many cases, this condition is fatal.
Turmeric benefits cancer treatment, and its strength in this area is linked to the curcumin it contains. Research shows that curcumin can help fight these types of cancer:
- Gastrointestinal cancers
- Breast cancer
- Genitourinary cancers
- Ovarian cancer
- Neurological cancers
- Lung cancer
- Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
Specifically, what does turmeric do to help generate these impressive results? Studies show that the curcumin contained in this herb can kill cancer cells. It also reduces the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, and it can help prevent cancerous cells from spreading to other areas of the body.
The health benefits of turmeric also include cancer prevention. In a 2011 study, turmeric was effective at preventing colorectal neoplasia.
Turmeric benefit #4: Improves cognition and prevents brain disorders
Your brain relies on a substance called brain-derived neuropathic factor (BDNF) to function at its best. This substance is a type of growth hormone; unfortunately, it diminishes as we get older.
Low levels of BDNF have been linked with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Research shows that turmeric benefits brain health by ramping up the levels of BDNF found in the body.
By increasing BDNF, turmeric can delay and possibly reverse certain types of brain disease and age-related slowdowns in brain function. In this capacity, turmeric may also be able to improve overall memory and cognition.
How to take turmeric
If you want to enjoy the health benefits of turmeric, know that there are many ways in which you can make the most of this spice. Use these tips to add turmeric to your daily routine:
- Include fresh turmeric or turmeric powder in curries when cooking
- Use turmeric powder as part of a homemade salad dressing
- Mix turmeric into blended smoothies
- Add turmeric extract to soups
- Use turmeric powder to create a delicious rice dish
- Heat this powdered spice in water to craft turmeric tea
- Whip up a batch of turmeric milk by adding this spice to cow’s milk or plant-based milk
- Include turmeric powder with your scrambled eggs
- Make fresh turmeric or turmeric powder part of the recipe when grilling or roasting vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli
- Mix turmeric powder with apple cider vinegar, honey and yogurt to create a turmeric mask that improves the look of your skin by fighting acne and fading scars
You can also purchase turmeric capsules or turmeric tablets and take this spice as a dietary supplement.
So, what does turmeric do when packaged as a supplement? In this form, it packs quite a punch. It’s hard to achieve therapeutic levels of turmeric ingestion when using this herb solely as a spice for your food. If you want to reap the benefits of this spice, know that it’s most potent when ingested as a dietary supplement.
How much turmeric should you take for optimal results? In studies conducted to research the health benefits of turmeric, participants were given dosages ranging from 500-2,000 mg per day.
Turmeric and black pepper
Look for a turmeric supplement that contains piperine as an active ingredient. Piperine is a natural substance that’s found in black pepper. Studies show that it enhances the absorption of the curcumin found in turmeric by as much as 2,000 percent.
Similarly, if using turmeric plant as a spice for food, know that it’s best combined with black pepper for optimal absorption.
Whether you’re using turmeric for inflammation or some other reason, this spice has the goods to support healing. Reap the health benefits of turmeric by making it a staple part of your wellness plan. You can purchase turmeric powder in the spice aisle at your local grocery store, and turmeric supplements are sold online.
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