Why Turmeric Is The Most Powerful Spice In Your PantryJanuary 22nd, 2015
Did you know that yellow curry you ordered for dinner could give your health a boost?
Turmeric, the spice that gives curry its flavor and color, has been used to treat everything from arthritis to stomach pain to colds.
Of course, eating a bowl of curry probably won’t cure an ailment. Used as a supplement, however, turmeric may be one of the most effective spices in existence.
Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a medicinal herb as well as a spice. The majority of health benefits from turmeric are derived from it’s main active ingredient, known as curcumin.
Let’s break down the reasons why turmeric is so good for you.
Turmeric contains bioactive compounds
Turmeric has medicinal compounds called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. To experience the full effects of this herb, it’s best to take an extract of curcumin. For maximum absorption, take this fat soluble herb with a good, healthy fat and if possible, black pepper, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by as much as 2,000 percent.
It turns out that curcumin is highly anti-inflammatory, so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs. In several studies, its potency has compared favorably to anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs, but without the side effects.
Curcumin dramatically alters the antioxidant capacity of the body
Curcumin has powerful antioxidant effects. It neutralizes free radicals on its own, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Essentially, curcumin delivers a one-two punch against free radicals.
It encourages improved brain function
Curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, or Brain Derived Neuropathic Factor, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain. Studies in mice have indicated that curcumin could possibly prevent or slow the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
It could help prevent heart disease
Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function. Poor endothelial function means the body has trouble regulate blood pressure and clotting blood. Curcumin’s ability to reduce inflammation and oxidation are also important in preventing heart disease.
Curcumin might help prevent cancer
Several studies in test tubes and on animals indicate that curcumin could help prevent and perhaps even treat cancer.
It might help prevent or treat Alzheimer’s
Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to lead to various improvements in the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease.
Turmeric could provide arthritis relief
Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by joint inflammation. Many studies show that eating turmeric can help treat symptoms of arthritis, and in fact, turmeric has been used to treat joint pain for thousands of years.
It can help ease depression
Studies on mice have shown turmeric has a potent anti-depressant effect, and a more recent study in 60 depressed human patients showed for the first time that curcumin could be an effective treatment for depression.
Though turmeric has so many health benefits scientists are just beginning to quantify, it’s certainly a supplement that could only benefit your health. Try making a tea of turmeric and honey or adding more turmeric to your dishes.
Pregnant women and anyone with medical conditions should of course check with a doctor before starting any new supplement.
Photo credit: Steven Jackson via Flickr