7 Impressive Healing Health Benefits of Turmeric

Healing Health Benefits of Turmeric
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Turmeric has been touted the miracle anti-inflammatory plant for years, and has regained popularity in recent years for the numerous new research studies that have shed light on its healing properties. We will shed light on what turmeric is all about, possible health benefits, and information about supplementation.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant which is a fancy way to say that it is an underground stem like a root similar to ginger. In fact, turmeric is in the same family as ginger.

Turmeric is traditionally dried and ground into a spice. It is the spice that gives food a vibrant yellow hue, and often used in curries. The prevalence of turmeric in Indian curries gives us speculation why it is that the India has some of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s.

Anti-inflammatory Curcumin

You may have heard about curcumin which is the natural chemical compound found in turmeric. Curcumin is part of what gives turmeric it’s healing properties. However, it is important to note that curcumin isolated by itself is likely not as powerful as consuming the entire turmeric plant.

Curcumin, the active chemical compound in turmeric, works by inhibiting many molecules that contribute to the inflammatory process in the body. Curcumin and turmeric have been researched in a handful of human trials and are generally thought to be safe to consume even at higher levels (speak with your doctor before beginning a new supplementation regime) [1].

Benefits of Termeric

Potential Health Benefits

1. Alzheimer’s Prevention: Curcumin inhibits the formation of plaques, lowers cholesterol, and much more. The reduction* in plaques is key mechanism of action [1]. The problem with turmeric for Alzheimer’s is that it is not a bioavailable as we would like. If bioavailability can be improved* in supplement or medicinal form, then hope for Alzheimer’s prevention is out there.

2. Heart Health: As mentioned, curcumin can decrease* cholesterol, prevent atherosclerosis, may prevent arrhythmia, and may improve* cases of heart failure. One mechanism of action is by inhibiting platelet aggregation [3].

3. Reduction* in Insulin Resistance: Curcumin interrupts adipokines which play a role in creating insulin resistance. Curcumin may also improve* glucose tolerance [4].

4. Cancer Prevention and Possible Alternative Treatment: Turmeric prevents oxidative stress, is tumor protective (prevents against tumors) [5], and acts as a potent antioxidant. Turmeric has shown promise in prevention or reduction* of colorectal cancers, pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer, breast cancer, reduces* some side effects of radiation, and more.

Cancer Prevntion

5. Pain Reduction*: Some turmeric supplements are marketed as pain relievers. There is not a great deal of evidence to support the claim for turmeric as a pain reliever. However, many patient stories seem to say it is effective for those aches and pains.

6. Autoimmune Health: Not only is turmeric anti-inflammatory, but it can help balance out the Th1 and Th2 part of the immune system [6]. Curcumin plays a role in preventing intestinal permeability as well. Intestinal health lays the foundation for the immune system. If intestinal health can be improved* with turmeric, the plant shows promise for autoimmune health improvements as well.

7. Reduction* in Gastric Ulcers: Research has shown a reduction* in pain and some have had complete healing of gastritis, gastric ulcers, and dyspepsia [7].

This is not a complete list of all the possible health benefits of turmeric, but it is the list of benefits that show the most promise from what research says so far.

Supplementation

Supplementation

Please speak with your doctor before beginning a new supplementation regime. This article is not to be used for medical nutrition therapy or self-treatment.

As mentioned before, curcumin is not as bioavailable as we would like. What this means is that supplementation with curcumin is tricky, and it can be hard for the body to absorb. You want to make sure you are choosing a supplement that contains the most absorbable form of curcumin.

More absorbable forms are ones that may be formulated with some phosphatidylcholine [8], or black pepper [9]. You may also see the name, piperine, listed on turmeric or curcumin supplements. This is the chemical compound in black pepper that is responsible for helping to improve* curcumin’s bioavailability.

Food with Turmeric

Curries are often a popular way to incorporate the dried ground turmeric into a recipe. However, I enjoy sprinkling turmeric on any dinner I am cooking to add in some anti-inflammatory benefits.

A fun idea is to make a turmeric latte! Simply add your milk of choice (non-dairy, or whatever you prefer), a spoonful of ground turmeric, sweetener of choice (stevia, maple syrup, or honey), pinch of ground or fresh minced ginger, and sprinkling of cinnamon all to a blender.

Blend it up, then heat, and strain if you like (optional). Serve nice and warm like a latte! The beverage will be full of all the mentioned anti-inflammatory benefits and be deliciously warming and healing.

References

1. Chainani-Wu N. Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa). J Altern Complement Med. 2003;9(1)
2. Tang, Mengxi, and Changiz Taghibiglou. “The Mechanisms of Action of Curcumin in Alzheimer’s Disease.”Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Preprint (2017): 1-14.
3. Srivastava R, Puri V, Srimal RC, Dhawan BN. Effect of curcumin on platelet aggregation and vascular prostacyclin synthesis. Arzneimittelforschung. 1986;36. [PubMed]
4. Kato, Masaki, et al. “Curcumin improves* glucose tolerance via stimulation of glucagon?like peptide?1 secretion.”Molecular nutrition & food research 61.3 (2017).
5. Kawamori T, Lubet R, Steele VE. Chemopreventative effect of curcumin, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agent, during the promotion/progression stages of colon cancer. Cancer Res. 1999;59:597–01. [PubMed]
6. Zhang, Ming, Jia?ju ZHENG, and Jian XIA. “Curcumin regulated shift from Th1 to Th2 in trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid?induced chronic colitis.”Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 27.8 (2006): 1071-1077.
7. Prucksunand C, Indrasukhsri B, Leethochawalit M, Hungspreugs K. Phase II clinical trial on effect of the long turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn) on healing of peptic ulcer. The Southeast Asian J Tropl Med Public Health. 2001;32. [PubMed]
8. Marczylo, Timothy H., et al. “Comparison of systemic availability of curcumin with that of curcumin formulated with phosphatidylcholine.”Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology 60.2 (2007): 171-177.
9. Ahmad, Nisar, et al. “Biological role of Piper nigrum L.(Black pepper): A review.”Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 2.3 (2012): S1945-S1953.

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Author

Expert Author : Nicole (Consumer Health Digest)

Nicole G. Morgan is a Registered Dietitian with a background in weight management, food sensitivities, thyroid, and autoimmune conditions. Nicole works to improve nutrient status and reduce inflammation to promote optimal healing and health. You can find Nicole updating you with the latest thyroid health information on her Facebook.