Turmeric, medically known as Curcuma longa, is one of the best gifts from nature. Used for over 4000 years in folk medicine (both Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine), the health benefits of this herb have been assessed by several hundreds of clinical studies. The results are simply incredible.
Curcumin, the key ingredient of turmeric, appears to be associated with most of the positive effects of turmeric. Curcumin has strong antioxidant qualities and therefore can fight free radicals. With every breath we take, free radicals are formed in the body. Environmental toxins (including smoke), radiation and stress also create more free radicals in the body. These molecules are responsible for many degenerative conditions such as arthritis, heart diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Turmeric also has anti-aging properties and helps us to “age gracefully”.
Let’s see what scientists have found out about turmeric:
Turmeric for Arthritis
Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory qualities, and therefore can reduce inflammation, swelling, pain and therefore, improves range of motion in joints affected by arthritis. Scientists found that curcumin acts in a similar way with conventional anti-inflammatory drugs Indomethacin and Salicylates (used for arthritis management). This natural powder is also safe to consume. Studies have shown that turmeric works for both degenerative flare-ups as well as chronic arthritis.
A study found that turmeric dramatically inhibits joint destruction (due to arthritis) and also blocked NF-κB (a protein that controls certain genes that promote inflammatory responses). Turmeric also showed the ability to influence the expression of hundreds of genes that play a role in joint inflammation and destruction. This supplement also prevents the production of too many osteoclasts (cells that break down the bone).
This natural supplement aids in the management of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other forms of joint diseases. It can also be used to aid in pain and symptom relief for neck pain, back pain or knee pain.
Other Health Benefits
Turmeric can help you lose weight and supports hormonal balance (both obesity and hormonal imbalances are risk factors for osteoarthritis). It can also prevent and help manage heart diseases. It even prevents the heart muscles from getting damaged after a heart attack. Studies have shown an improvement in cholesterol level management when taking turmeric. It also helps prevent blood clots and therefore reduces the risk of getting heart attacks and strokes.
Turmeric has anti-diabetes effects and aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels, and can fight various microorganisms like bacteria (Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Helicobacter Pylori), viruses (Ebstein-Barr, and possibly HIV), fungi (Aspergillus flavus) and can also be used as an venom antidote .
Curcumin has strong anti-cancer qualities according to some research papers. It induces tumour cell apoptosis (self-destruction of cancer cells), and is particularly helpful in aiding recovery from colon cancers and leukaemia.
Your brain also loves turmeric, as this supplement can protect you from developing vascular dementia. Turmeric is very safe to consume. However, since turmeric has anti-diabetic effects, you may need to seek your doctor’s opinion on the reduction of dosage of anti-diabetic drugs (if you suffer from diabetes). Also, because turmeric has blood thinning qualities, consumption should stop a few weeks before a surgery. Since it has some anti-fertility qualities (research is ongoing for turmeric based contraceptives), you should not consume it if you are pregnant, or are planning for a child.
Dr Brenda, MD, HD (Nutrition),
Medical author, Assistant Microbiology Professor