You might know turmeric, or curcuma longa as its sometimes known, as a spice that’s traditionally added to Indian curry dishes. What you probably didn’t know about this powerful spice is its potential to fight and reverse many diseases. There are over 10,000 peer reviewed articles about the healing properties turmeric has. In particular, about one of the compounds found in turmeric called curcumin, which has many medicating properties.
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This golden colored and flavoured spice has been around for centuries, but has made its presence known today through a spike of enthusiasm in health and nutrition interest groups. Turmeric is produced from a plant that grows about three feet in height and fruits a flower as well as a rhizome. The rhizome looks almost the same to ginger because of the root-like stem that is the yellow turmeric spice. In fact, ginger and turmeric are closely related family members.
Where exactly turmeric originated from is not exactly known, but many believe its home is in southern India and Indonesia. Also, India has been the largest producing of turmeric since ancient times. Turmeric is yellow like mustard and kind of smells like it too. It has a hot flavor and pepper like bitterness that makes turmeric go well with many dishes. It’s very well loved in soups, curries, sauces and meat as well as rice dishes.
Even in the past, turmeric was celebrated as a food as well as a medicine. Not many people know that it’s the curcumin found in turmeric that gives turmeric its yellow colour and its healing properties. There is about 3% curcumin in turmeric by weight. Curcumin possesses anti-inflammatory properties that are similar, and even better than, Ibuprofen. However, curcumin does not have the toxic effects on the body like over the counter medication does.
Also, curcumin has many antioxidant benefits that can protect healthy cells, specifically the cells found in the colon, from cancer causing factors. It’s the body’s partner in crime in destroying mutated cancer cells before they have any opportunity to span to other areas. If you have cholesterol, listen up. Turmeric can help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Turmeric makes dishes taste great and has wonderful health benefits, so what more do you want out of a spice?
What’s Turmeric’s History
Believe it or not, turmeric has been used medicinally for over 4,500 years. Discoveries of pots near New Delhi unearthed leftovers from turmeric, ginger and garlic that goes back to 2500 BC. However, it was 500 BC that turmeric materialized as a key component in Ayurvedic medicine. Just in case you did not know, Ayurvedic is an ancient Indian practice of natural healing that is still practiced today in many parts of the world. Ayurvedic means “the science of life” – AYUR means “life” whereas VEDA means “science or knowledge”.
Besides eating turmeric, in the past turmeric was burned because it was believed the fumes of burning turmeric helped to relieve congestion. If you don’t want to burn or eat turmeric, why not try juicing it? Turmeric juice helped to heal wounds and bruises and turmeric paste was administered to many kinds of skin conditions such as smallpox, chicken pox, blemishes and shingles.
Aside from having a significant medical role, turmeric has other importance within Indian culture. The Hindu religion views turmeric as prosperous and sacred. So much so that on a Hindu wedding day, a common tradition is to dye a string yellow with turmeric paste and let the groom tie it around the bride’s neck.
This “necklace” is known as a “mangala sutra” and means that the woman is married and is able to look after a household. This tradition still carries on today in Hindu communities and is comparable to the Western exchange of wedding rings. There are even some parts of southern India that they wear a piece of turmeric rhizome as a lucky charm to protect then against evil spirits.
What Are Turmeric’s Health Benefits
Turmeric has a long list of health benefits, so we better get cracking and start letting you in on all the ways turmeric can support your health.
Turmeric Is Nature’s Skin Care
Is your skin looking a little spotty? Ditch the Clearasil and get to your spice rack. Turmeric can stop those nasty zits from growing, because it can stop pimple causing bacteria and reduce the oil secretion that the sebaceous glands generate. If you use turmeric on a daily basis, it can clear acne scars to give you flawless and glowing skin.
Turmeric has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that speed up the healing process of cuts and eases skin irritation. Remember the curcumin we were telling you about? It’s good to know it also has anti-aging properties, due to all the antioxidants it has. It works wonders to fight the signs of maturing such as wrinkles and pigmentation.
Turmeric is Ideal for Weight Loss
Sometimes running on the treadmill 24/7 isn’t going to get you looking slim enough for that party dress you are hoping to get into. Luckily turmeric is here to save the day. It speeds up the metabolism rate, so your body can burn loads of calories, which you guessed it, leads to weight loss! Turmeric is very practical in shrinking fat mass and detoxing the liver, which are important when you are on a diet induced weight loss program.
Furthermore, turmeric makes a wonderful weight-loss supplement because it lowers bad cholesterol and squashes inflammatory messages in pancreatic, muscle and fat cells. When your body isn’t so busy fighting inflammation, it can get on with getting down to your ideal weight.
Turmeric Fights Inflammation
You will probably notice the word “inflammation” many times when you read about turmeric, because turmeric is a miracle worker against inflammation. This is due to it’s most important element, curcumin. Some people from the medical community have actually compared the potent anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin to the most powerful pharmaceutical choices available for reducing inflammation.
Therefore, it’s suggested to consume turmeric to diminish arthritic pain, gout and muscle pain caused by strenuous exercise or injury. You can gain this relief with turmeric topically or by consuming the spice. Some people have sought relief from the inflammation of hemorrhoids using a topical ointment made from turmeric.
Turmeric Cures Gastrointestinal Problems
When your stomach seems to be your worse enemy and won’t let you be, use turmeric as a stomach soother. The spice is helpful for constipation, cramping and irritable bowel syndrome. Again, the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin come into the picture here too, since it reduces the possibilities of developing ulcers, bleeding in the bowels and mostly stops irritation everywhere in the gut.
For that reason, holistic specialists recommend turmeric for patients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and for worse conditions such as Crohn’s disease. The bit of dietary fiber content within turmeric can also support the digestive process.
Turmeric Supports Menstrual Issues
That time of the month is no fun at all. The discomfort, cramping, bloating, perhaps excessive bleeding and mood swings don’t cry, “a walk in the park on a spring day”! So, thank the heavens for turmeric, because once again due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, it can relieve most symptoms of menstruation. Find out how a high fat, low carb diet can affect female hormones.
Turmeric Prevents Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a terrible disease which attacks the lungs with thick mucus and harms the pancreas. Studies have shown that the curcumin in turmeric can alter the protein-folding mutation that bring about the result of this fatal disease.
Turmeric Holds Off Cancer
Turmeric is among the best herbal treatments for prevention of many types of cancer alongside cat’s claw. These two potent anti-proliferative herbs have been studied extensively. Research has linked the anti-oxidant properties of curcumin to the reduction of colon cancer cells and inhibits the growth of a protein that is necessary for tumor growth. Adding turmeric to your diet is a great preventive measure and can slow down the metastasis of cancerous growths. Taking steps to help lower the risk of cancer in your lifetime will greatly increase longevity.
Turmeric Detoxifies the Body
In addition to being able to knock out cancer, turmeric has the ability to detoxify the body. The organic compounds in turmeric can improve the liver function and cut down the toxic levels in the body by activating the lymphatic system so toxins are discharged easily. Therefore, if you suffer from liver ailments or toxicity, take advantage of the antioxidant qualities of turmeric.
Turmeric Improves Heart Health
Turmeric can help mend your heart due to its curcumin. No surprise there! However, turmeric contains vitamin B6, which quickly stops the production of homocysteine – a negative by-product the body makes that can harm the cell walls. When the walls in your body weaken, various problems in the heart can arise, such as high blood pressure and plaque build-up.
By now it’s a no- brainer that curcumin is an anti-inflammatory component, but when it comes to matters of the heart, it works directly towards balancing cholesterol levels by getting rid of excess LDL, the bad cholesterol, from the arteries and blood vessels. When this happens, you can prevent atherosclerosis. Merge this with stronger blood vessels and turmeric is the complete solution to a vast spectrum of heart problems.
Tumeric Is More Effective with Black Pepper
Turmeric and black peppercorns go hand in hand, because there is a chemical in black peppercorns called piperine. Piperine is important, since it makes curcumin in turmeric more bioavailable. Curcumin is very healthy, but it gets metabolized too quickly before the body can absorb it properly. Therefore, ingested turmeric with black pepper helps to make curcumin more bioavailable.
The reason for black pepper being turmeric’s co-operator is because it stops some intestinal digestive enzymes. When this situation happens, it boosts the amount of any drug or supplement that the body can take in. Another good point to mention is that it does not break down as fast.
Turmeric is an ancient superfood that you can find in supermarkets in its powder, or even original root form. Adding turmeric in your daily diet can give you good overall health and is very simple to do. Here are a few ways you can incorporate turmeric into your daily food intake.
This is an easy and healthy way to get the health benefits of turmeric. You can even add some warm spices like ginger and cinnamon if you want to be daring. Drinking golden tea before going to bed helps to relax you and is said to increase your immunity whilst you sleep. We love multi-tasking! Here’s the recipe.
- 2 Cups of any milk of your choice
- 1 tsp of turmeric
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- A pinch of black pepper (to increase the curcumin absorption)
- A small piece of fresh and peeled ginger root or ¼ of tsp ginger powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (This is only if you like it spicy)
- 1 tsp honey or maple syrup (This is also optional and not for those who think they are sweet enough)
- Put all the ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth.
- When ready, pour the contents into a saucepan and heat up for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until its hot, but not boiling.
- Serve in mugs, drink and enjoy the taste and health benefits of turmeric.
- 4 cups of broth
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder or freshly grated turmeric
- 1 tablespoon of finely grated fresh ginger (This is totally up to you)
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, black pepper and salt
- Put all the ingredients in a saucepan.
- Let the mixture simmer for five minutes.
- Blend with a blender. If you like the chunky pieces, leave the broth as it is.
- Serve and enjoy the great taste and antioxidants of turmeric.
What to Avoid in Turmeric
Always talk to your doctor if you are using turmeric as a remedy for any medical condition, pregnant or nursing. As a whole, turmeric in culinary use is very safe.
If you haven’t got on the turmeric bandwagon yet, don’t you think its time you should? It might make your fingers a little yellow, but you will reap the health benefits for years to come. Don’t forget it makes things a lot tastier too!
Where can I buy anti inflammatory supplements to improve metabolic and cellular function?
You can find natural anti-inflammatory and cancer arresting nutrients in the supplement aisle of your local health food store or you can purchase through online retailers like Amazon.
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