For the past few years there has been a lot of news about benefits of Turmeric. Quite a few of my patients ask me whether they should be taking turmeric regularly. I decided to write about turmeric because it is such an amazing herb and can benefit most of us.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used for thousands of years to treat various health problems. It is still used throughout India, China and the neighboring regions as a regular part of the daily diet.
Its use is not isolated to the East, Turmeric has been used in Europe for over 700 years brought over by the European traders from the East. Present day Hawaiians use it too and call it Olena.
As one of the main spices used in most Indian dishes, it gives curry the distinct yellow color. As you might remember from my last article, spices are not just for flavoring food, they are added to food for a therapeutic reason.
In Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, Turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory, blood and liver cleanser, to regulate blood sugar, detox, antioxidant, antibiotic and antiseptic, for digestive and skin problems and to promote wound healing.
Curcumin (a curcuminoid) is one of the main ingredients responsible for Turmeric’s beneficial effects and which gives Turmeric its yellow color. However there are many other ingredients in whole turmeric that work synergistically to increase the effectiveness of this herb.
Turmeric health benefits
1. One of the top natural anti inflammatory agents: it is an important ingredient in Ayurvedic formulas for relieving pain and reduces inflammation associated with arthritis. It is commonly used as a natural anti inflammatory and pain reliever immediately after injuries.
Taken both orally (often in boiled milk) and applied topically (cooked in oil and the paste is applied to the injured tissue). I routinely recommend my patients to use Turmeric when recovering from injuries and also to protect joints and muscles.
2. Helps immune system as one of the most potent antioxidant foods. It is many times more powerful than Vitamin E and C, and one of the important sources of antioxidants to fight against damaging effects of free radicals.
Free radical is an atom or molecule with an unpaired electron that is very unstable, highly reactive and causes damage to the cell membranes and even DNA.
3. Helps improve digestion, partly by stimulating the gall bladder to produce bile, which is essential in fat metabolism and also by improving the functioning of the liver by its detoxifying effect. Also improves overall health of the digestive system.
4. Helps maintain proper blood sugar levels. Used to control blood sugar levels in Ayurvedic medicine.
5. Help against Alzheimer’s and preventing degeneration of mental function. Recent research has shown curcumin to help prevent brain plaque formation in Alzheimer’s patients. Might be a possible reason for lower rates of Alzheimer’s in India.
6. Helps maintain beautiful and supple skin. It is extensively used to improve the health of the skin and promotes beautiful skin.
Internally, the blood and liver cleansing effects combined with external application is very effective for maintaining a healthy young skin. Brides and bridegrooms in India both get a turmeric mask (with a few other ingredients) to cleanse and make the skin beautiful just before the wedding.
7. Helps detox the liver, which might explain its cholesterol lowering effect. Also prevents clotting by preventing platelets from clumping together thus might be helpful for preventing heart attack and stroke.
8. Studies have also shown Turmeric to retard growth of certain cancers. These anti cancer properties might be a reason why Indians have lower rates of certain cancers.
Possible Turmeric side effects and interactions with modern medicines
1. No known side effects of Turmeric when taken in the appropriate dosage. Excess use can aggravate Pitta.
2. Diabetes medications, because it may lower blood sugar levels resulting in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
3. May act as a blood thinner so check with your MD if you are taking blood thinners or about to have surgery.
4. May increase stomach acid production interfering with action of drugs meant to reduce stomach acid production.
More than a billion Indians alone consume Turmeric everyday and I think you can definitely get benefit from regular use of Turmeric.
I regularly take turmeric as part of my daily diet and highly recommend it to my patients. Add it to your cooking or take with warm water and can also take milk with Turmeric. 1- 3 grams or about ½ teaspoon powdered turmeric 2x/day can be taken daily.
Hope you found this helpful, just keep in mind to get turmeric from a reputable source without additives or preservatives.
This article is for educational purposes only. Please consult with your physician, physical therapist or medical practitioner before starting any exercise program or trying any of the herbal products/recommendations mentioned in this video/article.