Turmeric Health Benefits
Tumeric has been hailed a ‘super-spice’ for many centuries and is now seen in a local health food store near you. So should you be taking it? I went in search of more information to give you a good overview of turmeric and its health benefits.
How Did Turmeric Originate?
With a lovely yellow colour (which stains your hands and your tupperware if you’re not careful), turmeric is a plant that has a very long history of medicinal use. Tumeric has been used in Southeast Asia not only as a principal spice, but also as a component in religious ceremonies. Because of the vibrant yellow colour of turmeric, it is also known as “Indian saffron.” Modern medicine is now starting to catch on to its many healing properties. There are now over 3000 publications dealing with turmeric that have been published in the last 25 years.
Different Uses of Turmeric
In folk medicine, turmeric has been used in therapeutic preparations in different parts of the world. In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric has many medicinal properties. For instance, it strengthens the overall energy of the body, relieves gas, dispels worms, improves digestion, regulates menstruation, dissolves gallstones, and relieves arthritis.
Many Southeast Asian countries use it as an antiseptic for cuts, burns, and bruises. In Pakistan, on the other hand, it serves as an anti-inflammatory agent and remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort. Moreover, turmeric powder is used to cleanse wounds and stimulate recovery. They apply it on a piece of burnt cloth and placed over a wound.
Consequently, Indian turmeric powder is also used to purify blood and improve skin conditions. Turmeric paste is used by women in some parts of India to remove excess hair and is often applied to the skin of the bride and groom before marriage.
In addition, turmeric is currently used in the formulation of sunscreen. Other companies make use of turmeric to make face screams (not sure about this one!)
Achieving Turmeric Health Benefits
Turmeric health benefits are achieved by including it in the diet over a long period of time. A precise understanding of effective dose, safety, and mechanism is difficult in human studies to gain accurate data. That being said, turmeric is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, antioxidant, antiseptic, and cardioprotective. Phytochemical analysis of turmeric reveals it has a large number of compounds. For instance, it includes curcumin, volatile oil, and curcuminoids. In addition, it also has potent pharmacological properties.
Below is a list of turmeric health benefits. Ask your doctor if there’s any reason you shouldn’t take tumeric and if not, perhaps give it a try. Often those on blood thinners such as Warfarin, Rivaroxaban, and Clopidigrel will be warned away from turmeric. This is because it does have anticoagulant properties. Always check with your pharmacist or doctor if you are unsure.
Tumeric Benefits for People With Depression
In a study of patients suffering from depression, the combination of antidepressant medication and curcuminoids (substances present in turmeric) given for 6 weeks show that turmeric improves depression to a significantly greater extent. In the study, 1,000 mg of curcuminoids and 10 mg of piperine (a substance in black pepper that is thought to increase the absorption of curcuminoids) were used.
Consequently, in another study, with 1,000 mg per day of curcumin (one of the substances present in turmeric) for 8 weeks significantly improved depression. Moreover, about one-third of the participants were taking an antidepressant medication.
Consequently, in another study, supplementation with 1,000 mg per day of curcumin enhanced the beneficial effect of antidepressant medication.
Dose: up to 1000mg/day
(Panahi Y, Badeli R, Karami GR, Sahebkar A. Investigation of the efficacy of adjunctive therapy with bioavailability-boosted curcuminoids in major depressive disorder. Phytother Res 2015;29:17–21.)
Turmeric for Osteoarthritis and Back Pain
Many of my clients use turmeric to improve their pain from arthritis (and swear that it has helped!) For instance, one of my clients, Mary, is 84 and was in awful pain when we started her sessions. After starting turmeric and exercise we were doing, she can now walk for 30 minutes without stopping. She can even do a round of walking lunges (who doesn’t love a walking lunge!)
Indeed, turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory effects, a possible advantage for people suffering from lower back pain.
A few preliminary studies confirm that curcumin may decrease inflammation in both humans1 and animals. In one double-blind trial, on one hand, a formula containing turmeric, other herbs, and zinc shows that these diminishes pain for people with osteoarthritis.
Standardised extracts containing 400 to 600 mg of curcumin per tablet or capsule are the typical dose for using it for joint pain.
(Sontakke S, Thawani V, Pimpalkhute S, et al. Open, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Boswellia serrata extract as compared to valdecoxib in osteoarthritis of knee. Indian J Pharmacol 2007;39:27-9).
Turmeric for Pre and Post-Surgery
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory effects. For instance, one trial found curcumin (from turmeric) was more effective than anti-inflammatory medication for relieving post-surgical inflammation. In addition, the side effects include stomach discomfort.
(Satoskar RR, Shah SJ, Shenoy SG. Evaluation of antiinflammatory property of curcumin (diferuloyl methane) in patients with postoperative inflammation. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol 1986;24:651-4.).
In case reports, three patients with Alzheimer’s disease showed improvements in symptoms such as irritability, agitation, anxiety, and apathy after supplementing with turmeric. The amount used was 764 mg per day, providing 100 mg per day of curcumin.
(Hishikawa N, Takahashi Y, Amakusa Y, et al. Effects of turmeric on Alzheimer’s disease with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Ayu 2012;33:499-504.).
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve used turmeric and whether you’ve noticed any benefits!
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