Interested in the health benefits of turmeric? This magical spice is one of the best foods (or supplements) you can consume for your health. Turmeric is a plant that is common in South Asia, particularly India where it is widely used in the production of spices, and is the key ingredient in curry powder that gives the powder its yellow shade. The spice is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used in India for centuries as a natural remedy for a multitude of ailments.
The Health Benefits of Turmeric
While commonly used medicinally for decades, turmeric as an herbal medicine caught the attention of the modern world only recently. Scientists have only begun revealing the exact health benefits of this plant. Research and history shows how turmeric can be utilized to help treat or prevent many of the most common and serious health conditions.
Here are some of the top health benefits of turmeric:
Turmeric powder has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it an ideal antiseptic used in home remedies for wounds.
Further adding on to turmeric’s cancer-fighting abilities, the spice has also been shown to help prevent breast cancer. Curcumin has been found to possess properties that reduce the expression of deadly molecules within cancer cells, and can potentially slow the spread of breast cancer.
The spice is a natural painkiller.
Research is beginning to show that turmeric may be effective at protecting against neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Epidemiological studies show that levels of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s are very low in elderly Indian populations, where turmeric is a common spice.
More studies are currently being performed to reveal other health benefits of turmeric. Whether you use it as a supplement or to spice up your favorite dishes, turmeric will assist in keeping you healthy. As studies progress, turmeric is expected to be a key ingredient in the prevention and treatment of many of today’s diseases.
“Since curcumin is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and lipophilic action improves the cognitive functions in patients with AD. A growing body of evidence indicates that oxidative stress, free radicals, beta amyloid, cerebral deregulation caused by bio-metal toxicity and abnormal inflammatory reactions contribute to the key event in Alzheimer’s disease pathology,” says a study on PubM.
Treating and Preventing Chronic Disease with Turmeric
You might have caught Dr. David B. Agus on The Daily Show earlier this year. In his book, The End of Illness, he summarizes that low-grade inflammation is the root of most diseases, from heart disease to diabetes, Alzheimer’s to arthritis, cancer to allergies and acne. Turmeric—as you’ll see in the following research—therefore seems like a worthy ally in the fight against illness and disease, can can be used for preventing chronic disease.
Preliminary experimental research at the Medical University Graz in Austria shows how curcumin can protect the liver and delay liver damage that might otherwise lead to cirrhosis.
Kansas State University research finds a 40 percent reduction in heterocyclic amines—carcinogenic compounds formed when meats are barbecued, boiled, or fried—with the addition of certain spices, like turmeric.
Curcumin may inhibit melanoma and slow the spread of breast cancer into the lungs according to rodent studies at the University of Texas.
With the rate of Alzheimer’s disease in India being less than a quarter of that of the U.S., many epidemiologists hypothesize that turmeric—a staple for curry—has something to do with it.
- An Italian study with 50 osteoarthritis patients found that after 90 days, 58% of those taking curcumin reported less pain and stiffness compared to control groups. Additionally, researchers determined a 300% improvement in mood and a 16-fold decrease in C-reactive protein (inflammation marker) in the curcumin group.
Turmeric Shown to Cut Heart Disease & Diabetes Risk
Study conductor Shelia West found that the levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, decreased by approximately a third in a meal prepared with spices. The decrease even occurred when oily sauces high in fat were present. The research, published in the journal Nutrition, shows how extremely simple dietary changes can have such a positive influence on health. Although many spices have been shown to boost health, turmeric is especially gaining massive recognition for its incredible ability to fend off illness and disease.
Published in the journal Diabetes Care, the study involved 240 Thai adults with prediabetes. The participants were divided into 2 groups, with one group taking curcumin capsules containing 250 milligrams of curcuminoids, while the other was given a placebo. After a 9 month period, it was found that 19 individuals of the 116-person placebo group developed type 2 diabetes, while none of the participants of the 199-person curcumin group developed the disease.
Turmeric and curcumin have been shown in previous research to also fight inflammation and oxidative damage – two processes which help a number of diseases to appear and develop, including type 2 diabetes. One study published in the journal Nutrition shows how turmeric normalizes insulin and triglyceride levels while boosting antioxidant defenses; keeping triglyceride and insulin levels low effectively reduces your risk for numerous health conditions like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and – you guessed it – diabetes.
Turmeric, Curcumin Naturally Block Cancer Growth
Turmeric and curcumin have been highlighted as powerful anti-cancer substances in the past, but research has now shed even more light on the amazing ability of both turmeric and curcumin to actually block cancer growth. This is due to the unique ability of a main component in turmeric that is actually able to block an enzyme that promotes the spread of head and neck cancer.
Researchers at UCLA found that curcumin — the primary component in turmeric also responsible for its color — exhibited these cancer-blocking properties during a study involving 21 participants suffering from head and neck cancers. The subjects were given two chewable curcumin tablets containing 1,000 milligrams of the substance each. After administering the chewable curcumin tablets, an independent lab in Maryland was in charge of evaluating the results.
What the lab found was that the enzymes in the patients’ mouths responsible for promoting cancer spread and growth were inhibited by the curcumin supplementation. As a result, the curcumin intake halted the spread of the malignant cells. Curcumin has previously been found to reduce tumors by 81% in similarly shocking research, which also gives credence to the natural anti-cancer benefits of turmeric and curcumin intake.