Turmeric has been in the news in recent times for its acclaimed benefit in the treatment of various diseases such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, psoriasis and Alzheimer’s.
It’s important to not however that turmeric has been used in the treatment of these stated ailments and more for hundreds of years.
Let’s look at some of its traditional health benefits.
Turmeric’s health benefits (traditional)
The turmeric herb comes from a plant that is native to India called Curcuma longa, it is a very attractive flowering plant and the turmeric herb is derived from its roots making turmeric a root crop.
The Ayurveda healing system is an Indian healing system that is about 5,000 years old and turmeric has always been used as a major ingredient as seen in ancient texts and manuscripts from that time.
It has also been discovered that Asian people used turmeric in cooking about 4,500 years ago as ancient pottery shards excavated from that time had cooking residue that suggested that much.
Turmeric along with other ingredients is used to make curry powder a cooking spice.
Turmeric is preferably utilized dry but it can also be grinded or grated in the same way as ginger.
Turmeric was used by ancient physicians to treat arthritis, relieve symptoms of cold and allergies, dissolve gallstones and promote good digestion.
It was also used for treating skin infections and wounds by topical application.
Turmeric was used as a solution for enhancing beauty.
There are creams and soaps made from turmeric which are widely in demand today.
Turmeric paste is still used in marriage ceremonies in parts of Asia today.
Turmeric and Curcumin their Relationship
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the use of the words turmeric, curry and curcumin.
Even medical journals seem to make this mistake and it is important it is clarified at this junction.
Turmeric is a root herb obtained as earlier stated from an Indian flowering plant called Curcuma longa.
On the other hand curry combines turmeric and other herbs and spices, so turmeric is an ingredient in curry.
While curcumin is a compound found in turmeric as it is also found in other herbs such a ginger.
It is interesting to know that curcumin has several health benefits and studies have been based on this single compound as opposed to the spice itself.
Even the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health cannot back the claims made on the viability of turmeric in the treatment of the ailments for which it is accredited for as according to it there has been so little clinical trials for these claims to be certified as genuine.
But why is this so?
Well it seems more convenient and cost effective to just isolate curcumin and synthesis it in the making of conventional drugs for the treatment of various ailments than examine the spice in its entirety. The truth is turmeric is readily available everywhere and it would be a financial nightmare to spend lots of money on researching into this crop and publish the findings of the study only for everyone to start using it as turmeric is not patented by anyone.
Verifiable Health Benefits of Turmeric
As research has been done primarily on the compound – curcumin which is prevalent in turmeric it is important that the proven benefits of this ompound is highlighted.
They include fighting common cold and flu, alleviating allergies, relieving the pain of arthritis, important in the treatment of depression, curbing diabetes, destroying the brain plaques in Alzheimer’s patients and significantly reducing the risk of heart attack.
You might now want to ask, what is turmeric itself useful for?
It has been discovered by independent researchers that turmeric has at least 20 antibiotic compounds, 12 anti-tumor, 10 antioxidants, also about 14 cancer preventatives and 12 anti-inflammatory compounds.
It is widely accepted as a very strong herb with very active antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anticancer agents.
There are quite a few ailments that turmeric has been credited for as having a direct effect on them and in the alleviation of these diseases, they include;
Treating Alzheimer’s with turmeric
Turmeric is known to help elderly people who are at risk of alzheimer’s. In India the elderly that are known to consume turmeric as part of their daily dietary course have been seen to have a lesser risk of developing alzheimer’s than anywhere in the world.
Turmeric is known to have over 200 compounds and while the benefits of curcumin is well documented there are other compounds that also have a remedial effect on alzheimer’s such as turmerone, which is known to promote the growth of neurons thereby helping the brain to regenerate itself.
Treating arthritis with turmeric
Turmeric has excellent anti-inflammatory properties which helps patients with arthritis issues. It has been seen to be both useful as an oral administered medication or when it is applied topically.
The Arthritis foundation has stated that turmeric is very potent in the treatment of arthritis and that it can provide sufferers of osteoarthritis with long-term pain relief benefits.
The foundation stated that recommended dosage for the treatment of osteoarthritis should be a single capsule (400-600 mg) of turmeric supplement thrice daily or alternatively 0.5-1.0 gram of turmeric root powder not exceeding 3 grams daily.
Cancer treatment using turmeric
Dr. Saraswati Sukumar an oncologist from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine believes that turmeric consumed in a meal is far more effective than the curcumin or turmeric supplements taken.
The curcumin in turmeric is known for its effectiveness against cancer, it will destroy cancerous cells without harming normal cells.
In Japan turmeric tea is a daily essential for the people of Okinawa and it has been proven that it may just have been responsible for their high life expectancy which is about 82 years.
To prepare turmeric tea you will boil about ½ a teaspoon of turmeric powder in a cup of clean water for about 10 minutes this will increase the solubility of the curcumin compound by as much as 12 times.
You then strain if need be after allowing it to simmer down for about 10 minutes, then serve with raw natural honey for taste.
You can also try this recipe;
The liquid gold turmeric tea recipe
– Water – 1/2 cup
– Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
– Coconut milk – 1/2 cup
– Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon
– Raw natural honey or stevia for flavor
Boil the water then add the turmeric powder and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Then you should add your coconut milk and oil.
Add your stevia or natural raw honey for flavor.
Dosage of turmeric
Turmeric is not just a dry yellow powder it can be purchased fresh as well; it looks a lot like ginger which is a cousin of the spice.
If you are going to administer turmeric yourself then you might as well adhere to the University of Maryland’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide for the recommended dosages for adults.
– For a cut root: take 1.5-3 grams daily
– If it is a dried and powdered root: 1-3 grams daily
– If its Fluid extract (1:1): 30-90 drops daily
– If its tincture (1:2): 15-30 drops, 4 times daily
The University’s recommended curcumin dosage if a powered supplement is used is 400-600 mg, 3 times daily.
Side effects of turmeric supplements
If consumed as a spice added into food turmeric is considered safe.
Turmeric side effects are almost zero, but for those with a history of kidney stones it has been known to increase their risk considerably.
However, manufacturers of this supplement have indicated some warning on their labels addressed to certain groups of people that may be susceptible to side effects from the use of turmeric these groups of people include;
– Avoid curcumin or turmeric if you are pregnant. As curcumin will raise your risk of miscarriage as it will stimulate the uterus.
– Conception would be made even more difficult if you consume turmeric.
– If you have uterine fibroids, reproductive cancer, endometriosis or any hormone-sensitive ailment you should avoid taking turmeric this is because turmeric will act sort of like estrogen.
– Turmeric will complicate any gallstones or gallbladder issues you may have.
– If you are scheduled for surgery, stop taking turmeric for at least two week prior to the scheduled surgery date as turmeric raises the risk of bleeding.
– Because turmeric increases the risk of bleeding and bruising you should avoid taking it if you are on prescription drugs that slow clotting such as clopidogrel, aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, warfarin and naproxen.
– Turmeric will cause the following if you have ulcers, GERD or any other stomach issue. It will cause nausea, diarrhea, it will worsen your GERD, cause gastric irritation and give you an upset stomach.
– Turmeric will increase your production of stomach acids by disrupting the functions of prescription medications taken to reduce this stomach acid. Medications such as Nexium, Zantac and Tagamet.
– It will also raise your risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia if you take it while you are on some diabetes medication.
– If you have an iron deficiency issue, taking turmeric will only make matters worse as it will prevent the proper absorption of iron by your body.