Turmeric is a golden yellow spice that characteristically gives curries their intense color and it seems this spice is valued for more than its taste. Find out about some of the most important turmeric health benefits right here – this spice is a powerful source of healing that could benefit all kinds of conditions.
What Exactly is Turmeric?
Turmeric comes from a tropical plant that is similar to the ginger plant – it is the root of this plant. The spice contains one key component that may be responsible for most of its healing potential. This compound is called curcumin. You may hear the terms turmeric and curcumin used interchangeably, with scientific studies often referring just to the active compound curcumin – this is because the active substance is not found in very high levels in turmeric, and when it is extracted and used as a pure form it is stronger. This is why scientists usually test the effects of turmeric by using curcumin.
Turmeric has been a key part of Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years. It has been said to cure bloating, depression, diarrhea, and heartburn. It is said to have anti-bacterial qualities, and it is also touted as a cure for conditions like arthritis and cancer. There is some evidence to support these claims, and further studies are ongoing to find out more about the powers of this super spice.
You find turmeric in powered form or fresh from health foods and ethnic food superstores. You can also get turmeric in supplement form.
Discovering Turmeric Health Benefits
1) Turmeric Has Antioxidant Benefits
One of the main reasons to look at turmeric as a healthy addition to the diet is its high levels of antioxidants. Free radicals cause damage to the body that can result in premature ageing and also chronic health conditions like cancer. Antioxidants fight against free radicals, thus preventing cell damage. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant. It also encourages the natural antioxidants in the body to work, and to fight against free radical damage themselves.
2) Turmeric May Help Lower Heart Disease Risk?
One key benefit of curcumin in turmeric is that the compound helps to improve the lining of the blood vessels. This helps blood to flow more efficiently to the heart, and prevents blood clotting. As described above, curcumin also reduces inflammation and acts as an antioxidant, which is another important way in which a substance can help prevent heart disease.
3) Turmeric May Help to Prevent and Cure Depression
There are some studies that demonstrate how curcumin has some promise in acting against depression. Curcumin has been added to antidepressants in some studies and the results show that the twin-treatment is more effective than antidepressants alone. Some studies also show that curcumin can boost the body’s own production of serotonin and also of dopamine.
4) Works Hard Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Many studies show that curcumin can help to prevent beta-amyloid plaques forming in the brain. When beta-amyloid plaques form, they block the important action of brain cells, which leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If curcumin indeed does work against these plaques it would be a valuable use for this spice.
5) Turmeric Helps to Work Against Painful Conditions
Inflammatory conditions like arthritis and tendonitis may be treated by using curcumin, say experts. This is because curcumin helps to stop the biological systems that cause inflammation, and therefore cause pain. While turmeric is not a cure for these painful conditions, it can help to relieve pain.
6) Helping to Prevent Cancer
There are various laboratory studies that show the active component in turmeric, curcumin, helps to destroy esophageal cancer cells. The cells in the laboratory experiment actually started to destroy themselves after 24 hours. While this is promising, there does still need to be more work on this subject in order to find out if similar results also occur in human studies.
7) Helps to Fight Against Liver Damage
Using curcumin can assist the cells in the body to protect against liver damage, according to studies. One recent study from Austria suggests that turmeric can actually help delay the beginning of cirrhosis. This is because curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory benefits and also has useful antioxidant properties.
8) Helps Prevent Diabetes
There is one small study that shows how curcumin actually helps prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes in people who are at risk of getting the disease. As this was a small study, more research is needed to find out the reasons behind these actions and whether they can be replicated again in a larger study.
In order to get the best medical effects from turmeric, experts suggest consuming a full-strength supplement that contains curcumin. However, you can also add the spice to your food for active turmeric health benefits.