Turmeric is a spice that is used in many foods to give yellow coloring. An example of this would be yellow mustard. It is a member of the ginger family and has a fragrance similar to that of orange combined with ginger. It is derived from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a peppery, bitter taste. In its raw form, it has thick brown skin and flesh that is of a dark orange color. This spice has been a staple ingredient used in cooking for thousands of years in Middle Eastern and Southeast Asia.
Through the ages, turmeric has been used for everything from textile dyes to condiments and has been considered to be a healing remedy used by the Chinese and Indians in their medicinal practices. Known to be a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory, it has been used to treat such conditions as jaundice, infections, toothaches, blood in the urine, hemorrhages, gas, bruises, colic, pain in the chest, management of pain, and problems associated with menstruation. It is also thought to help in the detoxification of the liver, as well as supporting the health of the brain.
Although more testing needs to be done using human subjects, so far the studies done on the use of the spice have indicated that it does indeed have many health benefits. Here are some of the turmeric benefits that have been discovered so far
1. Curcumin As A Possible Link To Cancer Blocking
Turmeric contains an active component known as curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant. It is thought that curcumin blocks a certain enzyme that contributes to the growth of cancers in the neck and head. Studies have been done in which the results showed that the enzymes which promote cancer were inhibited after the patients were given curcumin, preventing the spreading of cancerous cells.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
One of the most helpful turmeric benefits is that it is a very potent natural anti-inflammatory. It has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis. When taken as a nutritional supplement, it also helps to relieve joint pain. Curcumin is a safe alternative to over the counter anti-inflammatory medications that may pose serious health risks.
3. Antioxidant Properties
The antioxidant properties found in turmeric have been found to prevent or reduce the damage caused by free radicals that can cause cancer. Although still in the early stages of scientific research, findings have indicated that it may help in the treatment of skin cancer, colon, cancer, and prostate cancer.
4. Treatment For Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Those who suffer from inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease may benefit from using turmeric. Researchers are led to believe that the combination of antioxidant activity along with the inhibition of a cellular inflammatory agent known as NF kappa-B is responsible for reducing symptoms.
5. Lowers Cholesterol
Turmeric benefits the body by helping liver cells clear out LDL or “bad” cholesterol. The active component works to communicate with genes within the liver. It calls and directs them to create more messenger proteins known as mRNA, which in turn create more receptors for LDL cholesterol.
6. Natural Remedy
Turmeric has been used to manage or in some case, completely cure conditions such as arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), joint pain, stomach pain, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease) and ulcerative colitis, bypass surgery, hemorrhage, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disorders, high cholesterol, and fatigue. It is also used for headaches, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, bronchitis, colds, diabetes, menstrual problems, lung infections, water retention, fibromyalgia, fever, worm, menopause problems, recovery after surgery, and cancers. It is a natural painkiller.
7. Skin and Beauty Care
Individuals with lichen planus, a skin condition that usually appears as a purplish, often itchy, flat-topped bumps, have benefited from the use of turmeric. Turmeric also helps to fight signs of ageing, skin tag, ringworm, itchy skin, membranes skin inflammation from radiation treatment, dark spots, skin whitening, skin wounds, acne scarring, dermatitis also known as eczema, redness, dry and wrinkled skin and fade stretch marks.
8. Hair Care
Turmeric is used for scalp treatment to treat certain scalp conditions like dandruff, ringworm, eczema which can result in hair thinning, hair loss, itching, and inflammation of the scalp.
9. Weight Loss
Including turmeric in your food helps accelerate your body’s metabolism rate causing you to burn a significant number of calories which is necessary for weight loss. Lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol level and liver detoxification is essential for diet-induced weight loss efforts, turmeric can help the body achieve both, making it an ideal weight-loss supplement. It is also responsible for suppressing inflammatory messages in muscles, pancreas, and fat cells. So, while your body isn’t fighting inflammation, it can easily focus on reducing weight.
10. May Aid In The Prevention Of Alzheimer’s Disease
There is evidence to support the theory that turmeric may offer protection from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and possibly even prevent the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. The active ingredient, curcumin works to clear out amyloid-beta plaques associated with the disease by boosting immune system activity.
Aside from all of these, there are many other turmeric benefits such as cardiovascular protection, improved liver function, reduction in the risk of childhood leukemia, and help for those who suffer from cystic fibrosis.
To obtain these health benefits, simply sprinkle raw turmeric onto foods or use it in cooking. A small amount of healthy oil such as coconut oil can be used along with the spice to add flavor. It may also be rubbed onto meat before cooking. Finding ways to incorporate turmeric into your daily diet may provide long term health benefits.