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How Turmeric May Promote Good Health Outcomes

Last Updated on by Medical Review Desk

Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is one of those things you will find in many kitchens. It is a popular spice often used to add flavor to a variety of dishes, including mustards and cheeses. The plant is also highly revered for its medicinal properties.

The root extract is regarded among the most efficacious nutritional supplements available. Several studies have shown that turmeric offers a variety of health benefits. Keep reading to learn about some of these, including dosage and possible side effects.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a rhizomatous perennial plant that is widely grown in Asian countries. It is a member of the ginger family known as Zingiberaceae. The herbaceous plant is usually not found in the wild; it is cultivated.

It is thought to have originated from Southeast Asia, most probably from India, Vietnam, or China. The plant has been used in these areas for a variety of purposes for thousands of years. It is a popular spice and a medicinal herb.

India is the world’s leading exporter and consumer of turmeric, a plant that is also grown in Oceania, Central America, and some countries in West Africa. Little wonder it is also referred to as Indian saffron.

Turmeric powder is typically used as a flavoring or coloring agent in cuisines, particularly in curries. It consists mostly of carbohydrates (up to about 70%). Its protein content is about 6-8 percent, while that of fat ranges between 5 and 10 percent.

Because of its color, turmeric is also used in dyeing. This was, in fact, said to be its first use in Asian countries.

Turmeric is probably more known these days for its medicinal properties. It has been an integral part of Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine for many centuries.

Researchers have found that it contains powerful bioactive compounds known as curcuminoids. The most notable among this is curcumin. This is the main active ingredient that is responsible for majority, if not all, of health benefits associated to the plant.

We examine some of these benefits in subsequent sections.

Control of Inflammation

While a helpful reaction, inflammation is a major cause of several health issues. This is when it has become a chronic or persistent occurrence.

Turmeric can help to control inflammation and keep it from doing damage to your body. Its main active ingredient, curcumin, boasts potent anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to regulate the effect of a molecule known as NF-kB, according to research. The molecule activates genes that cause inflammation in the nuclei of cells.

Studies show that turmeric is as effective as anti-inflammatory medications. What’s more? It does its work without side effects often associated with such drugs.

Promotion of Healthy Digestion

Turmeric can help you to digest your foods better. This probably explains why it is used in the preparation of some cuisines. The benefit is down to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In Ayurveda, a system of healing in India, this plant is used to promote the health of the digestive system. There is also now interest in Western medicine to use it to similar end. It is receiving attention from researchers who are trying to find out how it may help with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Mental Health Boost

If you are interested in enhancing your cognitive function, turmeric may be of help. Findings reveal that curcumin does increase the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a form of growth hormone that is specific to the brain.

BDNF helps neurons in the brain to make new connections and multiply, something that was once thought possible only during childhood. It turned out that decrease in the amount of this substance is a reason many adults experience drop in the number of neurons and connections.

Decline in BDNF levels has been shown to play a role in several brain disorders. Among these are Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

It follows then that turmeric and its key constituent curcumin may help to reverse age-related changes in brain function. It may help treat brain disorders and improve memory in older individuals.

Treatment of Arthritis

Inflammation is a factor in the occurrence of arthritis, the different forms. With its anti-inflammatory potency, turmeric can help people with this condition. Research has shown that curcumin can even be more potent than anti-inflammatory drugs in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

The herb provides pain relief from arthritic pain. Many patients have reported this benefit; even some doctors have experiences of patients reporting relief from use.

In one study, it was reported that turmeric was as effective as ibuprofen for relief of pain in patients with arthritis in their knees.

Enhancement of Liver Function

Another benefit you can enjoy from the antioxidant properties of turmeric is protection of your liver. It may keep toxins from damaging the organ. This means people taking medications that can weaken liver function can find it beneficial.

Prevention of Cancer

Research shows that you may be able to protect yourself against cancer by consuming turmeric extract. It appears to be especially beneficial against cancers of the digestive system, such as colorectal cancer.

Researchers found in a study that daily use of curcumin (4g) for 30 days led to reduction of colon lesions by 40 percent in men. Such lesions sometime appear before cancer develops.

Turmeric is also being investigated as a potential treatment for this dreaded disorder. It is thought possibly helpful in checking the uncontrolled growth cell growth and multiplication seen in the condition.

There is evidence that the plant may control angiogenesis (creation of new blood vessels in tumors) and metastasis. It has the potential to facilitate the death of cancer cells, going by findings in laboratory studies.

Protection against Heart Disease

You can reduce your risk of heart disease by using turmeric. The implication is that it can increase your chances of longer lifespan, considering this condition is a major cause of mortality.

There are several things that play a role in heart disease. It is a complicated disorder. Endothelial dysfunction or weakening of the endothelium is a key factor in development of heart disease.

When the endothelium, the lining of blood vessels, weakens, it becomes inefficient in performing its role. Blood clotting and pressure issues, among others, can result.

Clinical evidence suggests that curcumin can enhance endothelial function. Research shows that it works at the same level as exercise in this regard. Findings also reveal that it is as efficacious as the cholesterol lowering drug atorvastatin (Lipitor).

Prevention of Premature Aging

You can benefit from using turmeric in promoting healthy aging. Again, chronic inflammation accelerates the aging process. Combine that with activity of free radicals. This increases the risk of suffering age-related disorders.

With its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, curcumin can help to fight these issues. It fights inflammation and helps to deal with free radicals.

It is obvious that turmeric can help you enjoy graceful aging when you consider the number of chronic disorders it can help prevent. You may now see why curcumin is increasingly becoming popular as an anti-aging supplement.

How is Turmeric Used?

Ground turmeric root is typical used for medicinal purposes and a variety of others. The dosage for health effect may depend on the goal of use.

Some people take doses as low as 500 mg per day. Most researchers used extracts standardized to contain mostly curcumin in their studies. Dosages are typically higher than 1g per day.

Daily oral curcumin doses used in most clinical studies were about 3.6 g, on average. But up to 8 g a day has been safely used.

Turmeric Risks

This plant has a good safety profile. Its safety record is impressive when you consider the high number of people that use it. The fact that it has featured in dishes for thousands of years attest to that.

But this does not mean that turmeric is without any side effects. A handful of these have been reported in clinical trials.

The plant can cause an increase in the amount of gastric acid in your stomach if you take high amounts. This can cause you to experience upset stomach.

You may want to stay away or reduce dosage if you are taking blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder. The properties in turmeric can thin your blood, causing you to bleed more profusely.

Supplements containing extracts of this plant are not advisable for pregnant or nursing women. These products typically contain concentrated compounds that may cause issues such as induced labor and abortion.

Final Thoughts

You may conclude from the foregoing that adding turmeric in your diet is a great way to promote health. But while there are research findings and personal experiences suggesting efficacy, some experts claim available evidence is not convincing enough.

We think it won’t be a bad decision if you choose to start taking turmeric supplements. After all, there are reports that the plant is beneficial. The risk of side effects is also minimal, so long your condition allows and you take only safe doses. But it is necessary to speak with your doctor before use.

If you decide to use turmeric to promote your health, we advise that you ensure you get your supply from a reputable source. There is report of potentially toxic substances being mixed with the powder since it is typically sold by weight.

 

REFERENCES

Turmeric – Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turmeric)

Turmeric Uses, Benefits & Side Effects – Herbal Database (https://www.drugs.com/npc/turmeric.html)

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