February 20, 2019

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric comes from the same family as ginger which is the Zingiberaceae family and are both rhizomes. It has a fragrant, pungent, bitter taste that makes it one of the principal ingredients in curry powder and mustard. But aside from its culinary uses, it has also been regarded of great significance in religious traditions and both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.

It is actually considered as the “spice for life” due to its many therapeutic benefits and also called the “golden spice” because of the bright yellow colour it provides when used in cooking and other purposes. Turmeric’s natural vibrant yellow colour is also used to dye clothing, such as Buddhist robes.

Since ancient times until today, India is still the largest producer and exporter of turmeric across the globe, the reason why it is also known as "Indian saffron". Indian turmeric is known for its high curcumin content the reason why it is considered to be the best in the world market.

Discover the health benefits that turmeric can offer and what makes this "golden spice" valuable as gold in the nutraceutical industry.

 

History and Origin 

Turmeric or scientifically known as Curcuma longa  has a long history of medicinal use which dates back nearly 4,000 years. It has been long used for traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, treating skin, digestive and liver problems. 

Studies suggest that turmeric is a tropical plant that is native in the tropical regions of southern Asia, particularly in Southern India. The reason why turmeric is widely used as a spice and food colouring throughout the areas of China, India and Indonesia.

Turmeric comes from the Latin term “terra merita” which means “meritorious earth”  due to the colour of turmeric that resembles a mineral pigment. While the name of the genes of the plant which is “Curcuma” has been derived from the Sanskrit term “kunkuma” that points to turmeric and saffron being used in India in their traditions since the ancient times.

 

Turmeric's Nutritional Value

Turmeric contains powerful polyphenols or micronutrients that are called curcuminoids which is the group of chemical compounds responsible for the health benefits that turmeric provides. Curcuminoids include curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin that contain anti-inflammatory effects and high antioxidant levels. 

Turmeric also contains essential minerals and vitamins that our body needs. It is also a rich source of fibre, iron and manganese. To know more about its nutritional value, here are the following vitamins and minerals that are present in turmeric:

Manganese is a trace mineral that the body needs since it improves bone health, metabolism and contains antioxidant properties which reduce and prevent you from acquiring diseases. 

Iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body and is essential in the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia and different chronic diseases. Also, boosts immunity and energy metabolism. 

Fibre helps normalize bowel movements, promotes healthy digestion and internal organs. Also essential in lowering cholesterol and glucose levels and aids in weight management. 

Copper is an essential nutrient for the development of skeletal structures and the formation of collagen. Also, proven in the reduction of pain and inflammation related to arthritis. 

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) helps improve mood and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is also, essential in promoting brain health, cognitive function and decrease the risk of dementia.

Omega-3 marine triglycerides are composed of essential fatty acids, namely eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are both necessary for the production and restoration of new cells. 

Omega-6  should be balanced with your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. It can relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, lowers your bad cholesterol levels and fights diabetes.

 

Health Benefits

1. Natural Anti-inflammatory.  Turmeric contains curcuminoids which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, the reason why it is used in treating inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is very much effective in reducing the risk of having joint inflammation. Studies suggest taking turmeric capsules of 400 to 600 milligrams up to three times per day for inflammation relief, but it is still best to ask your healthcare practitioner.

2. Lowers Bad Cholesterol and Glucose Levels.  Taking turmeric extract, even in small doses can effectively reduce the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and bad cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels in overweight people with high cholesterol levels. Therefore, it could help in reducing the possibility of fatal heart attacks and strokes as it also repairs damaged arteries with people who have high cholesterol levels. It is also effective for reducing your blood sugar levels and can help fight diabetes. 

3. Brain Health.  Helps boost memory as well as protecting your brain against free radicals, promoting proper brain function since turmeric is rich in manganese that is an essential mineral for healthy brain function. It also repairs damaged cells and prevents you from having dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease since studies show that it can cross the blood-brain barrier and can help clear these plaques which can result to memory and brain problems. 

4. Heart Health.  Due to its powerful antioxidants, studies suggest that turmeric can reduce your risk of having atherosclerosis, stroke attacks and other kinds of heart disease since it prevents your arteries from getting clogged. Also, improve your body's overall blood circulation and prevent the narrowing of your arteries and blood vessels. You can use Oriental Botanicals High Potency Turmeric Excel Tablets for the daily support on your cardiovascular and overall health.

5. Eases Arthritis.  Since it has strong anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can ease pain, swelling and inflammation of joints in people with arthritis. The active compound found in turmeric which is called curcumin, studies suggest that it is effective for reducing the pain in patients with osteoarthritis. You can take Blackmores Curcumin Active + Boswellia 60 Capsulesto increase joint mobility, relieve joint swelling and pain associated with mild osteoarthritis.  

6. Improves Mood.  Turmeric is a natural anti-depressant that helps improve mood and reduces anxiety and depression. Studies show that the active content in turmeric called curcumin can influence the brain chemicals to produce an anti-anxiety effect, therefore controlling mood changes through stimulating the production of serotonin and dopamine which contribute to feelings of happiness and well-being.

7. Hormonal Balance.  Turmeric contains hormone-balancing properties that can help reduce premenstrual syndrome symptoms among women which include menstrual cramps, mood swings, fatigue and bloating. It also improves estrogen metabolism and a natural phytoestrogen that ease hormonal imbalances in menopause. It is also known for fighting oxidative stress because of its high antioxidant levels, therefore reducing toxins in your body that can lead to a better hormone balance.

8.Skin and Hair Health.  Treats skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis since it contains moisturizing properties. It also speeds up wound healing, fight early signs of ageing and reduces the appearances of acne and stretch marks. It also promotes glowing and youthful skin. For your hair, turmeric stimulates hair growth and prevents you from having dandruff and itchy scalp since it has antiseptic properties. 

9. Aids Digestion.  Relieves stomach problems such as indigestion, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhoea. Its active ingredient curcumin helps soothe intestinal walls and promotes the growth of friendly gut bacteria and balancing your gut flora preventing leaky gut and other intestinal health problems. You can take Nature’s Way Activated Curcumin 50 Gummies for your daily support on your digestive health and overall health.

10. Liver Health.  Contains hepatoprotective properties and has the ability to cleanse your liver, promote liver regeneration and prevent you from having liver cancer. It effectively reduces the effects of carcinogens and prevents you from having a fatty liver. Because of curcumin and fibre, it reduces the damage to your liver tissue and stimulates bile production that helps break down fats and empty the gallbladder.

 

Dosage and Duration 

Children.

Turmeric can be helpful for the treatment of different ailments which include allergies and inflammatory conditions in children. It is better to consult your healthcare practitioner for the recommended dosage for your child since it varies and depends on their weight.

Adult.

For internal use. Standardized powder extract (95% curcumin): 100 to 300 mg per day. Higher doses are used for arthritis and other ailments. Curcumin should be taken on an empty stomach 20 minutes before meals or between meals. Oral doses of curcumin are not readily absorbed; 40 to 85% of the compounds may never be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

For Osteoarthritis:

The recommended dosage intake is 500 mg of turmeric extract twice daily for 2 to 3 months.

For High Cholesterol:

The suggested dosage intake is 700 mg of turmeric extract twice daily for 3 months. 

For Itchy Skin:

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, you can take 500 mg of turmeric three times daily for 2 months. 

 

Precautions and Interactions

Turmeric is generally considered safe when taken by mouth or put on the skin, but long-term usage and high doses can lead to gastrointestinal issues and other side effects that might affect your health. We suggest that you should talk to your healthcare practitioner about taking any dietary supplements or medications you are taking, before using turmeric as complementary medicine. 

Children and Pregnant Women. Keep out of reach of children for it may cause serious side effects when not properly administered. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should consult your healthcare professional before taking turmeric and curcumin products internally.

Anticoagulants. Turmeric might increase the effect of anticoagulants or blood thinning medications. Taking turmeric together with anticoagulants could increase the chance of bleeding and bruising. Some of the anticoagulants that could interact with turmeric include ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, heparin, warfarin etc. 

Gastric Ulcer and Gallstones. Turmeric is contraindicated in people who are suffering from gallstones and gastric ulcers or reflux since it promotes bile flow from the gallbladder. We suggest consulting your healthcare provider before taking turmeric. Though turmeric is considered safe, if taken in excessive doses, it may cause adverse effects such as bloating, heartburn etc. 

Antihypertensive Drugs. Taking turmeric extract along with antihypertensive drugs or medications used for high blood pressure might actually reduce your blood pressure to very low levels. Antihypertensive drugs include captopril, enalapril, losartan, furosemide etc. 

NSAIDs. It is also not advised for you to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as over-the-counter aspirin and ibuprofen along with turmeric supplements as this may increase the risk of bleeding and other side effects such as dizziness and severe headache. 

Anti-diabetes Medications. Turmeric can lower your blood sugar levels. Avoid this, if you have low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) or taking anti-diabetes medications for it could increase the effects on the drugs which could lead to serious side effects such as irregular heartbeats.

Surgery. Be advised that the use of high doses of turmeric should be suspended a week before major surgery. Also, because of the antiplatelet effects of turmeric, the use of concentrated extracts should be suspended before and after surgery. 

References:

Conscious Lifestyle Magazine
Medical News Today
Turmeric for Health
StyleCraze
FloLiving
Mercola
Dr. Axe

 

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