What is Turmeric?
Turmeric comes from the Curcuma longa plant, which grows in India and other Southeast Asian countries. The dried root of the Curcuma longa plant is ground into the distinctive yellow turmeric powder.
There are several chemical compounds found in turmeric, known as curcuminoids. The active substance in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is what makes turmeric a “functional food,” defined by the Mayo Clinic as “foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition.”
The best part about turmeric? Not only is it well-researched, incredibly potent and historically significant, it’s also safe. Turmeric has very few known side effects, and the ones that exist are incredibly rare and generally mild. Imagine saying that about most medications! Turmeric contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties.
History Of Turmeric
Turmeric has been used in Asia for thousands of years and is a major part of Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, Unani, and traditional Chinese medicine. It was first used as a dye, and then later for its supposed properties in folk medicine. Although the precise origin of turmeric is not known, it appears to have originated from Southeast Asia, most probably from Vietnam, China, or Western India. Not found in the wild, turmeric is cultivated in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and some countries of western Africa. The world’s largest producer, consumer, and exporter of turmeric is India.
The exact origin of turmeric is not known but it is believed to be native to Southern India and Indonesia. In these parts of the world turmeric has been used for thousands of years and has become integral part of their food and traditional medicine.
Turmeric has a special place in Indian tradition and worship too. It is used to worship Sun God. It is also worn by people as a part of purification process.
The usage of turmeric in India is very very old and its usage is documented in various forms. It was used a beauty aid, spice and a medicine – an all in one herb with amazing properties. It is thus not surprising that turmeric has such a place in ancient Indian medical science – Ayurveda.
Turmeric has not only been used by Indians, it was used by Buddhists monks which travelled to various parts of the world to die their robes. There are also evidences that turmeric was used as a part of Chinese medicine around 1,000 years ago.
Turmeric was not part of western world till recently. There have been only a few evidences stating its usage and importance in Europe. One of the key mentions about turmeric in western civilization was by Marco Polo (1280) – he says that he found a plant which has all qualities of saffron but is a root.
While turmeric has always been an important part of Ayurvedic system, western herbalist did not recognize its benefits till late 20th century.
But by mid 20th century, turmeric started gaining popularity in western world too. Today there are numerous research studies and experiments done to identify its benefits.
Big pharma companies want to understand its unique composition so that they can make drugs on same lines or use turmeric in some way. Another industry which is using (or in many case misusing) the name of turmeric is beauty products. It is not tough to find beauty creams and face wash mentioning that they have turmeric properties in it etc.
Thus in a nutshell from a herb only known to a small part of the world to one of the most sought after spice today, turmeric has come a long way. While we know a lot about this wonder herb right now, but I do believe there is lot more in it which is still unknown and unproved.
Nutritional Value Of Turmeric
Turmeric is one of the most nutritionally rich herbs. It contains good amounts of protein, vitamin C, calcium, iron, dietary fiber, sodium, and about 24 calories in a 1 tablespoon serving of turmeric powder. It also provides a rich supply of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
Nutrition Facts Of Turmeric
|Calories From Carbohydrate||249|
|Calories From Fat||83|
|Calories From Protein||22|
|Total Carbohydrates||65 g|
|Dietary Fiber||21 g|
|Fats & Fatty Acids|
|Total Fat||9.9 g|
|Saturated Fat||3.1 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||1.7 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||2.2 g|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||482 mg|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||1.7 g|
|Vitamin C||26 mg|
|Vitamin E||3.1 mg|
|Vitamin K||13 mcg|
|Vitamin B6||1.8 mg|
Amount per 100 grms
- Calories 354
- Total Fat 10 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg 0% of the RDA
- Sodium 38 mg 1% of the RDA
- Potassium 2,525 mg 72% of the RDA
- Carbohydrate 65 g 21% of the RDA
- Dietary fiber 21 g 84% of the RDA
- Protein 8 g
- Vitamin A 0% of the RDA
- Vitamin C 43% of the RDA
- Calcium 18% of the RDA
- Iron 230% of the RDA
- Vitamin D 0% of the RDA
- Vitamin B-6 90% of the RDA
- Vitamin B-12 0% of the RDA
- Magnesium 48% of the RDA
Turmeric is rich magnesium, which is necessary for more than 300 biochemical functions. These include supporting your immune system, keeping your bones strong and maintaining your heart’s rhythm. Sprinkle turmeric on magnesium-rich foods, including black beans, broccoli, spinach and tofu, to ensure that you consume enough of this important mineral. Add turmeric to roasted peanuts, almonds or pumpkin seeds for a healthy, magnesium-rich snack.
Just one teaspoon of turmeric provides 16 percent of the daily requirement for iron in men and women. Without iron, your body’s red blood cells will deplete, causing weakness and extreme fatigue. Combine turmeric with other spices that are rich in iron, including coriander, celery seed and garlic powder. Sprinkle your combined seasoning on lean red meats, clams, leafy green vegetables and other iron-rich foods if you are anemic or to sustain your body’s iron levels.
Turmeric contains more than 32 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 114 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids per teaspoon. These fatty acids enhance brain function, reduce inflammation, keep arteries clear and improve your body’s response to insulin. Add a few teaspoons of turmeric to your salmon, mackerel, turkey or pork dishes to increase your intake of these nutrients. Turmeric also combines well with lentils, peas and other legumes that are rich in fatty acids.
Because consuming turmeric has many medicinal benefits, including the ability to treat bowel diseases, arthritis and liver problems, many choose to take it in capsule form. Turmeric spices provide a nutritional balance that supplements cannot duplicate, and most supplements contain synthetic ingredients, which can make taking large doses harmful. Consult a medical practitioner before consuming turmeric as a supplement; he may recommend a dosage amount and a particular brand. Most turmeric supplements direct users to take between 400 to 500 milligrams three times daily; however, your doctor may suggest a different dosage depending on your specific health needs.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
1. Prevents Cancer
Curcumin had exhibited anticancer properties in numerous studies (28). In fact, countries that consume about 100 to 200 milligrams of turmeric every day were found to have lower incidences of cancer. In some cancer patients who were given turmeric, the tumors had shrunk. In a few others, the chemicals of the immune system that destroy cancer cells became more concentrated.
Laboratory studies have shown that curcumin in turmeric can slow cancer growth and even make chemotherapy more effective. It also protects the healthy cells from damage from radiation. More research is underway.
Curcumin is also found to suppress the initiation, progression, and metastasis of numerous kinds of tumors. Curcumin also employs numerous mechanisms for killing cancer cells because of which the cells may not develop any kind of resistance against the compound. Other studies have proven that curcumin is well tolerated even at higher doses. It is known to offer protection against the cancers of the brain, breast, bone, and the gastrointestinal system.
In one Chinese study, curcumin was found to be effective in the treatment of breast cancer. The compound was also found to protect against colorectal cancer in yet another study. It achieves this by sensitizing the cancer cells to chemotherapy, which paves the way to their smoother elimination. Curcumin can also work in the mouths of patients suffering from neck and head malignancies and reduces cancer growth. It was also found that curcumin binds to an enzyme named IKK, and prevents its functioning (the enzyme promotes cancer growth).
Curcumin has incredible potency, speaking from the perspective of curing cancer. One metabolite in curcumin, which could be available in very low amounts in the blood post its ingestion, could still have remarkable anti-metastatic effects. Curcumin can also prevent cancer of the prostate.
What is more interesting is that curcumin also activates certain proteins in the body that suppress tumors. It can even differentiate a healthy gene from a sick gene, and stunningly enough, can alter the expression of the sick gene. This simply means that curcumin can change DNA, alter the course of genes, and totally turn around the health of cells.
Another Chinese study had discovered that curcumin could inhibit cancer-associated fibroblasts (connective tissues that produce collagen and other fibers) – which might lead to prostate cancer. The compound also prevents prostate cancer metastases. It makes the tumor cells synthesize less of cytokines, which promote metastasis. This leads to a reduced frequency of metastasis formation.
Though not clinically tested yet, curcumin also shows great promise in treating melanoma (or skin cancer). In studies, it had stopped the laboratory strains of melanoma and provoked the cancer cells to commit suicide.
Turmeric has also been found to shield the DNA from exterior pollutants that can cause leukemia. In fact, turmeric spice can also reduce the risk of childhood leukemia by cutting the effects of some of the risk factors.
2. Aids in Digestion
Tumeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which helps in healthy digestion.
3. Improves Liver function
Tumeric has anti oxidant properties which helps the liver from being damaged by toxins. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, curcumin in turmeric stimulates bile production by the gall bladder. The liver, as we know, uses bile to flush out toxins. Bile also rejuvenates the cells in the liver that break down harmful compounds. The detoxification effects of curcumin are so good that the compound can also be used to treat mercury intoxication.
4. Skin Health
Tumeric has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which accelerate the healing of a cut and soothe skin irritation. It keeps pimples at bay by inhibiting the growth of pimple-causing bacteria and reducing the oil secretion by the sebaceous glands. The constant use of turmeric clears acne scars, which makes your skin flawless and glowing.
5. Weight Loss
Tumeric helps accelerate the metabolism rate and lets your body burn a significant number of calories, leading to weight loss. It is also useful in reducing fat mass and detoxification of the liver, which are essential contributors when it comes to diet-induced weight loss efforts.
6. Heart Health
Tumric has curcumin and vitamnin B6, Vitamin B6 can efficiently inhibit the production of homocysteine, which is a negative bodily by-product that seriously damages cell walls. These weakened walls can cause a number of complications in the heart, particularly when exacerbated by high blood pressure or plaque build-up. Secondly, curcumin directly balances your cholesterol levels by eliminating excess LDL (“bad cholesterol”) from the arteries and blood vessels. This can help prevent atherosclerosis.
The antioxidant properties of turmeric are known to offer cardiac protection, especially in the case of diabetes. Curcumin in turmeric also helps reduce the serum cholesterol levels, thereby contributing to heart health.
Research shows that turmeric was used for treating chest pain in ancient Indian and Chinese medicine. In other cases of obesity, the herb had reduced cholesterol concentrations – and more importantly, had increased the levels of good cholesterol. Curcumin had also shown to prevent numerous heart disorders, the most prominent of them being myocardial infarctions (obstruction of blood supply to the tissues in the heart).
As per a report by the Michigan State University, curcumin can also prevent the clogging of arteries (25). Another study states the benefits of curry powder, with turmeric being one of its primary ingredients. We often experience a spike in our blood sugar levels post a meal. This sudden sugar rush can lead to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, eventually causing a heart attack. The curry powder with turmeric as one of the ingredients could increase the blood flow of the individual, averting danger.
In yet another study conducted by the University of Indonesia, curcumin had reduced the cholesterol levels in patients with acute coronary syndrome.
Tumeric contains curcumin which is has anti inflammatory property which contribute to painkiller property. Its inhibitory action on inflammatory chemicals like prostaglandins and interleukins helps in reducing pain. Since it helps relieve inflammation, turmeric can act as a natural painkiller. This is particularly true for arthritis pains. Turmeric also improves circulation, which can help eliminate pain. Simply mix two tablespoons of turmeric with water to get a paste, and apply this to the affected area.
8. Alleviates depression
Curcumin in tumeric helps in depressive disorders in multiple ways: as an anti-inflammatory agent, antioxidant, neuroprotective agent.
9. Anti Asthma agent
Turmeric benefits in asthma in various ways. Curcumin as an add-on therapy in bronchial asthma reduces airway obstruction and improves breathing capacity.
10. It benefits thyroid health
Use of turmeric in diet is associated with reduced occurrence of goitre. Curcumin is beneficial in reducing inflammation in thyroiditis. Turmeric is found to be beneficial in reducing oxidative stress occurring in hyperthyroidism.
11. Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
As per numerous studies, curcumin, a potent compound in turmeric, can reduce inflammation in the body. One way of increasing turmeric intake is by adding it to your dishes while cooking – which you might be doing already. You can drink turmeric tea as well – just boil four cups of water and add one teaspoon of ground turmeric. You can also add lemon or honey to taste.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, curcumin in turmeric can aid in arthritis treatment. The compound modifies the responses of the immune system, and this helps prevent joint inflammation.
More importantly, the functioning of turmeric is safe and natural. Unlike ibuprofen or aspirin, the curcumin in turmeric fights inflammation naturally without harming the kidneys or liver. In fact, some level of inflammation is necessary for the body’s optimal functioning. It is only when these levels of inflammation go out of control (which, unfortunately, is what happens in most cases) that there is a problem. In one recent study, osteoarthritis patients adding 200 mg of curcumin a day experienced lowered pain and increased mobility. Curcumin also prevents the release of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.
The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin are so powerful that it is as effective as certain drugs used for the condition. These anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric are so potent that it can help in the treatment of cancer as well. More interestingly, there has been no long-term study till date that talks of the adverse effects of curcumin. The Food and Drug Administration has declared curcumin as GRAS (generally regarded as safe).
One downside could be the poor bioavailability of curcumin – it has been found that the serum concentration of this compound usually peaks 1 to 2 hours after oral intake, and gradually declines within 12 hours. We already saw how to improve the bioavailability of curcumin. Another way could be combining the compound with piperine (a compound derived from pepper). Turmeric with black pepper is one healthy combination.
Turmeric is also used to treat gastrointestinal issues linked to irritable bowel syndrome, which is caused by inflammation. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, curcumin lowers the levels of two enzymes in the human body that are responsible for inflammation.
In case you are taking curcumin supplements for arthritis, this is the dosage recommended by the Arthritis Foundation – 500 milligrams of curcumin, twice a day. But we advise you to talk to your doctor before you go for supplements. As per another study, extracts containing curcuminoids are far more beneficial in relieving arthritis than extracts containing other turmeric compounds as well. And yes, curcumin is one of the few curcuminoids in turmeric.
12. Offers Excellent Antioxidant Properties
Turmeric is known to scavenge free radicals, inhibit peroxidation, and reduce iron complex – all of which are a direct result of its antioxidant properties. And not just ground turmeric, but even its oil has antioxidant properties.
In another study conducted on rats, turmeric was able to prevent diabetes-induced oxidative stress – owing to its antioxidant properties.
Another study reveals that the antioxidant properties of curcumin can improve memory retention in humans. In yet another study, the compound had also inhibited apoptosis (the death of cells as a part of an organism’s development) – attributing the effects to curcumin’s antioxidant properties.
13. Promotes Brain Health And Prevents Neurological Diseases
Curcumin in turmeric can also boost the regeneration of brain cells. And aromatic-turmerone, another bioactive compound in turmeric, can increase neural stem cell growth in the brain by as much as 80%.
Given the potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric, the herb can also offer overall protection to the brain. It can even prevent the accumulation of beta-amyloids, destructive agents present in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. And since patients with Alzheimer’s tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their brains, turmeric could be a direct help.
Also, curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier (a semipermeable membrane barrier that separates the extracellular fluid in the brain from the circulating blood) – an ability that makes it an important neuroprotective agent. More interestingly, statistics show that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is 25 percent lower in India than in the US, given the extensive use of turmeric in the cuisines of the former. Rats that were fed turmeric developed fewer amyloid plaques (linked to Alzheimer’s) than rats that weren’t. You can simply add turmeric to any of your curry dishes or salads. Sprinkling a pinch of turmeric in your soup can also work wonders.
And here’s another stunning study – scientists have found that turmeric might prevent new fear memories from getting stored in the brain. The curcumin in turmeric might also eliminate pre-existing fear memories, paving the way for groundbreaking treatment options for psychological conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder. As per researchers, the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin could be the reason behind this.
One Mexican study had proved that curcumin restores the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in diabetes and obesity patients. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, is a vital protein in humans that contributes to nerve cell survival and functioning.
Curcumin also prevents neurotoxicity caused by metals like lead or cadmium. The compound has also delayed the degradation of neurons in patients with Alzheimer’s. Numerous other mice studies showed that turmeric not only helps reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms but also lowers the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Curcumin in turmeric can also aid in the treatment of depression, tardive dyskinesia (impairment of voluntary movement), and diabetic neuropathy. In other animal studies, curcumin had also exhibited beneficial effects towards chronic stress.
The compound has shown to benefit patients with multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord). Curcumin achieves this by regulating the inflammatory cytokines. Multiple sclerosis also involves the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and autoimmune attack – and as per a study, neuroprotective approaches (like the intake of turmeric) work better before the initiation of damage.
14. Delays Aging
Turmeric contains curcuminoid pigments that turn on the genes that enhance the body’s synthesis of antioxidants. This protects the cells of the brain and skin from free radical damage, improves concentration, and even slows down the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
In one animal study, curcumin and its metabolite (tetrahydrocurcumin) were found to increase the lifespan. This was found to be achieved by regulating the responses to oxidative stress and age-related genes. Aging is also caused by random errors in DNA replication – and curcumin might correct these errors, slowing down the aging process. Another study states the possibility of curcumin extending the lifespan of humans.
15. Might Aid In Diabetes Treatment
As per a scientific review, curcumin can lower the glucose levels in the blood, thereby helping prevent diabetes. In another study, people with prediabetes who were given a dose of curcumin for 9 months were found to be less likely to develop the disease. The compound can also change how the overactive immune system works in patients with type 1 diabetes. It can also boost the immunomodulatory medicines prescribed for the patients with type 1 diabetes. In another study, curcumin supplementation had reduced the oxidative stress experienced by diabetic rats.
Curcumin in turmeric can also aid in the treatment of liver disorders associated with diabetes. It had suppressed diabetic cataracts in rats in yet another study conducted by the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.
Ingestion of 6 grams of turmeric was found to increase postprandial insulin levels. This could be due to the stimulation of beta-cell functioning by the curcumin in turmeric. Turmeric may also be supplemented as an adjuvant to prevent molecular complications in type 2 diabetes.
According to one Iranian study, curcumin can promote bone resorption in diabetic animals. It can also be beneficial for diabetes-induced endothelial dysfunction. Curcumin supplementation had also shown to reduce insulin resistance, improve the functioning of pancreatic beta-cells, and enhance glucose tolerance.
16. Improves Immunity
The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric can help boost immunity to a great extent. It was found that curcumin stops the recruitment of certain immune cells which, when overactive, can lead to ailments like heart disease and obesity.
Curcumin was also found to stimulate the immune system and destroy the bacteria that cause drug-resistant tuberculosis. It also induces apoptosis (a mechanism used by human immune cells to kill bacteria). Curcumin also changes the way immune cells communicate with each other, enhancing the overall immunity of the individual.
The curcuminoids in turmeric also modulate the response of various types of immune cells – these include the T cells, B cells, neutrophils, macrophages, dendritic cells, and natural killer NK cells. This action improves the immune system of a person.
17. Works As A Natural Antiseptic
Turmeric displays excellent antibacterial properties against various types of bacteris, some of them which include E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella typhi – accentuating its antiseptic properties.
In yet another study, curcuminoids in turmeric had shown inhibitory activities against 8 types of dangerous bacteria. The application of aqueous curcumin extract to cheese had reduced the bacterial counts of S. typhi bacterium. The compound had also demonstrated a synergistic effect in combination with certain antibiotics. And not just bacteria, but turmeric had exhibited its protective properties against various kinds of fungi and viruses as well.
Another study states that turmeric has been extensively used for ages for its antiseptic properties. It even helps treat dental pain and other periodontal problems.
18. Reduces Menstrual Pain
According to one Iranian study, curcumin in turmeric was found to reduce the severity of PMS symptoms. This effect could be attributed to its anti-inflammatory effects. As per a report by the Evergreen State College, turmeric can be used to treat menstrual pains – as was used by the ancient Chinese and Indian healers.
19. Curcumin May Be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia. Unfortunately, no good treatment is available for Alzheimer’s yet. Therefore, preventing it from occurring in the first place is of utmost importance. There may be good news on the horizon because curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. It’s known that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, and curcumin has beneficial effects on both.
In addition, a key feature of Alzheimer’s disease is a buildup of protein tangles called amyloid plaques. Studies show that curcumin can help clear these plaques. Whether curcumin can really slow down or even reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in people is currently unknown and needs to be studied properly.
20. Arthritis Patients Respond Very Well to Curcumin Supplements
Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries. There are several different types, most of which involve inflammation in the joints. Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound, it makes sense that it may help with arthritis. Several studies show this to be true.
In a study in people with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug. Many other studies have looked at the effects of curcumin on arthritis and noted improvements in various symptoms.
21. Slow or Prevent Blood Clots
For many people, the formation of blood clots is a major concern. How do you develop a clot (also called a thrombus)? Blood clots form through a process called “platelet aggregation,” where blood platelets concentrate in one area and eventually clot.
In both lab and animal studies, the use of curcumin from turmeric greatly reduces instances of platelet aggregation and potentially reduces the risk of a clot forming.
Curcumin modifies an internal process known as eicosanoid biosynthesis. Eiconsanoids consist of four different molecules within the body that are involved in the natural inflammation process. It has been suggested that one reason that curcumin has anti-clotting properties is the way it affects the biosynthesis of thromboxanes, one of the four eicosanoids. This same mechanism is one reason turmeric is an anti-inflammatory substance.
One combination lab and animal study conducted in 1986 even suggests curcumin may be a preferable treatment method for people “prone to vascular thrombosis and requiring antiarthritic therapy.” However, this result still needs to be replicated in human trials.
22. Regulate Cholesterol
One of the reasons heart disease is such a problem in the U.S. is that people are developing pre-diabetes (high blood sugar) at an alarming rate.
In turn, diabetics and non-diabetics alike are suffering from oxidative stress, which damages the inside of blood vessels. Because of this damage to the arteries, cholesterol begins to build up plaque to patch up the damaged areas, which leads to high levels of LDL cholesterol.
Traditionally, statin drugs used to manage cholesterol (like atorvastatin, brand name Lipitor) are widely known to harm the kidneys and liver and cause a number of deadly side effects. They do bring cholesterol down, but they never address the actual cause, which is oxidative stress caused by high blood sugar levels and inflammation.
Thankfully, medical doctors are becoming more and more aware of the dangerous side effects of statin drugs and prescribing natural alternatives like curcumin and fish oil instead.
A study done by Drugs in R & D found that curcumin was comparable to atorvastatin at reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the treatment of high cholesterol in humans. This was a follow-up on prior animal research finding similar results.
However, a 2014 meta-analysis concluded that curcumin had no effect overall on blood cholesterol (together or split into LDL vs. HDL) or on triglycerides. The study author noted that these results may be due to short study durations and poor bioavailability of the studied curcumin formulations.
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 4 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey or fresh lemon juice or grated ginger
- Turn on the stove and bring the water to a boil.
- Put the turmeric into the boiling water and simmer
for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Then, take it off from the heat and strain the liquid.
- Add honey or lemon juice or grated ginger before consumption.
Health Benefits Of Turmeric Tea
1. Reduces arthritis symptoms
As an anti-inflammatory, curcumin may help reduce the most prominent symptoms of arthritis. A 2017 study found that out of 206 American adults with self-reported rheumatoid arthritis, 63 percent used non-vitamin supplements to manage their symptoms, with turmeric being the most popular product that was taken.
2. Boosts immune function
Curcumin is proven to improve immune function with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Curcumin has also been shown to act as an immune modulator, helping regulate immune cell function against cancer.
3. Helps reduce cardiovascular complications
Several studies have shown curcumin to have beneficial heart health properties by acting as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. A 2012 study found that taking 4 g per day of curcumin 3 days before and 5 days after coronary artery bypass grafting surgery, reduced the risk of acute myocardial infarction or heart attack by 17 percent.
4.Helps prevent cancer
Due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property of curcumin, tumeric tea is is thought to lower the risk of cells in the body becoming damaged, reducing the risk of cell mutations and cancer. Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that curcumin has anti-tumor properties, limiting the growth of tumors and spread of cancerous cells.
5. Helps manage irritable bowel syndrome or IBS
Several studies have found that curcumin may help reduce the pain associated with IBS and improve the quality of life of those people with the condition.
A 2012 study in rats found that curcumin helped decrease the time it took for food to empty from the stomach to the small intestine, otherwise known as gastric emptying.
6. Protects against liver damage, gallstones, and manages liver conditions
Several studies have shown that curcumin can protect against liver damage. Potential liver and gallbladder benefits of curcumin include increasing production of the digestive fluid bile while also protecting liver cells from damage from bile-associated chemicals.
7. Helps prevent and manage diabetes
Traditional medicines have used turmeric for diabetes for thousands of years. Several studies using animal and human models have shown that curcumin supplementation may have anti-diabetes properties.
8. Helps treat and manage lung conditions
Researchers suspect that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin may help reduce the symptoms of chronic or long-lasting lung conditions. A 2017 medical review concluded that although the clinical evidence is limited, curcumin might help treat asthma, pulmonary and cystic fibrosis, lung cancer or injury, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
9. Turmeric Tea Fights Inflammation
There are hundreds of studies that speak of curcumin, the compound in turmeric that fights inflammation. Further research also tells us that ibuprofen and aspirin, two of the popular anti-inflammatory drugs, are not as effective as curcumin in turmeric when it comes to fighting inflammation. These properties of turmeric also make it a good treatment for arthritis and gout symptoms.
10. Treats Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain by inducing inflammation, oxidative damage, and metal toxicity – all of which were found to be countered with the help of curcumin in turmeric tea. Another study says that curcumin can improve memory and mood. Curcumin’s ability to reduce brain inflammation has also been linked to improvement in depression.
11. Enhances Heart Health
Studies show that curcumin can reverse heart disease. The antioxidant effects of the compound can reduce the risk of different forms of cardiotoxicity and prevent heart complications related to diabetes.
Curcumin has also been found to improve the health of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. As endothelial dysfunction is one major cause of heart disease, curcumin plays a crucial role here. Further research also shows that curcumin can prevent clogged arteries. The compound can reduce deposits in the arteries, thereby preventing heart disease and heart attacks.
12. Might Promote Weight Loss
Weight gain causes fat tissue to expand, and new blood vessels are formed as a consequence. But studies show that intake of curcumin can prevent the formation of these blood vessels. This means less fat gain and, eventually, weight loss. However, more research is required before we arrive at any conclusion.
13. May Treat Uveitis
Also called eye inflammation, it is one of the degenerative conditions of the eye that can affect vision. However, we need more research before arriving at conclusions.
14. Boosts Sleep
We have already seen that curcumin can improve mood – and this invariably improves your sleep as well. Intake of curcumin was also found to relieve anxiety and prevent oxidative damage – factors that might otherwise cause sleep issues.
What Are The Side Effects Of Turmeric Tea?
- Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
During pregnancy, turmeric tea can stimulate the uterus. Not enough information is available with respect to turmeric and breastfeeding. Hence, avoid use in both the cases.
- Gallbladder Issues
Turmeric can aggravate gallbladder issues. Don’t use it if you have gallstones or any other issues with the gallbladder.
Though this is a benefit, we suggest you check with your doctor as turmeric can lower blood pressure way too much in diabetes patients.
Turmeric might decrease sperm count in men when taken orally. This can reduce fertility.
- Iron Deficiency
Turmeric might interfere with iron absorption. Hence, people who are deficient in iron must take care.
- Issues During Surgery
Turmeric might slow blood clotting, which is why you need to stop taking it at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
How to Select and Store Turmeric
Even through dried herbs and spices are widely available in supermarkets, explore the local spice stores or ethnic markets in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness than those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried spices, try to select organically grown turmeric since this will give you more assurance that the dried, powdered herb has not been irradiated. Since the color of turmeric varies among varieties, it is not a strict criterion for quality.
We would also note that fresh turmeric root is also becoming more widely available to consumers. You’ll usually find this form of turmeric in the produce section, sometimes near the ginger root. Many people report enjoying this form of turmeric in soups, salads, and dressings or marinades. If you bring this form of turmeric home from the grocery, it should be stored in the refrigerator.
Be sure not to confuse turmeric with curry. “Curry” is a very generalized name for spice combinations that typically contain turmeric alongside of numerous other spices. For example, a dried powdered curry powder may often contain turmeric, coriander, cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and clove, along with other spices like nutmeg or fenugreek.
Dried turmeric powder should kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. And as mentioned earlier, fresh turmeric rhizome (root) should be kept in the refrigerator.
Tips for Preparing Turmeric
Be careful when using turmeric since its deep color can easily stain. To avoid a lasting stain, quickly wash any area with which it has made contact with soap and water. To prevent staining your hands, you might consider wearing kitchen gloves while handling turmeric. If you are able to find turmeric rhizomes in the grocery store, you can make your own fresh turmeric powder by boiling, drying and then grinding it into a fine consistency.
Quick Serving Ideas For Turmeric
- Add turmeric to egg salad to give it an even bolder yellow color.
- Mix brown rice with raisins and cashews and season with turmeric, cumin and coriander.
- Although turmeric is generally a staple ingredient in curry powder, some people like to add a little extra of this spice when preparing curries. And turmeric doesn’t have to only be used in curries. This spice is delicious on healthy sautéed apples, and healthy steamed cauliflower and/or green beans and onions. Or, for a creamy, flavor-rich, low-calorie dip, try mixing some turmeric and dried onion with a little omega-3-rich mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Serve with raw cauliflower, celery, sweet pepper, jicama and broccoli florets.
- Turmeric is a great spice to complement recipes that feature lentils.
- Give salad dressings an orange-yellow hue by adding some turmeric powder to them.
- For an especially delicious way to add more turmeric to your healthy way of eating, cut cauliflower florets in half and healthy sauté with a generous spoonful of turmeric for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Cauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric, and Cumin
- 1 large head cauliflower
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Small handful of cilantro, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Remove the leaves and trim the stem end of the cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Using a large knife, cut the cauliflower from top to base into three 3/4-inch-thick “steaks.” Season each steak with salt and pepper on both sides. (Reserve any loose florets for another use.)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Gently transfer the steaks to a baking sheet.
- Whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ginger, cumin, and turmeric. Brush or spoon the mixture onto the cauliflower steaks.
- Roast in the oven until tender, about 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Uses Of Turmeric
This herb has both culinary as well as traditional cosmetic uses.
Turmeric juice is perhaps the most common form of the herb in medical use, but it can also be mixed into topical salves and creams. The essential oil of turmeric is also a powerful health agent.
Teeth whitening: While it is known to leave stubborn yellow stains on clothes, it surprisingly helps in removing the stains from teeth when mixed with coconut oil and baking soda.
Soap: This amazing anti-inflammatory and skin whitening agent is used in herbal soaps.
Sunburn remedy: It can also be mixed with yogurt or with aloe vera gel as a natural skin lightener or sunburn soother.
Wounds: Turmeric paste can be applied to heal cuts and wounds.
Face mask: Turmeric face masks have been used since ancient times as they improve skin luster and prevent acne. It can be mixed with yogurt, glycerine, honey, aloe vera, or vitamin E.
Skin moisturizer: Turmeric mixed with olive or coconut oil forms a natural skin emollient.
The herb also makes it a popular ingredient in soups, sauces, curries, meat dishes, biscuits, rice preparations, and as a general spice flavoring for dozens of other cultural dishes and specialties.
Smoothies: It can be added to smoothies as it gives them a uniquely sweet taste, something similar to pina colada, along with health benefits.
Milk: Warm milk mixed with a teaspoon of the herb provides relief from fever, cold, and acts as an excellent natural sedative.
Tea: Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric with warm water to make the tea. This tea offers health benefits and also helps in ensuring radiant skin.
Negative Effects of Turmeric
1. Increased Risk Of Bleeding
Taking turmeric has been found to slow blood clotting. This can eventually increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people who are suffering from bleeding disorders. Turmeric might also interact with certain medications and cause excessive bleeding.
Stop taking turmeric if you are suffering from any bleeding disorders or are on any medication for the same.
2. Stomach Issues And GERD
Turmeric hasn’t been found to cause any kind of stomach issues or other gastrointestinal reactions when consumed as a part of a cooked curry. But in the case of turmeric intake for chronic conditions like arthritis or aching joints, it may lead to gastrointestinal issues.
High doses of turmeric for extended periods of time has also been found to cause gastrointestinal problems.
Also, if you are currently suffering from dyspepsia or hyperacidity, it’s better you totally avoid turmeric usage.
Even turmeric supplements might cause issues of the stomach. Especially in adults who consume more than the recommended dosage (400 mg to 3 g) of the supplements for prolonged periods of time. Turmeric can also cause heartburn and indigestion.
Ensure you take turmeric only within the recommended dosage.
3. Raise Gallbladder Contractions
Turmeric contains significant amounts of oxalate, which is a chemical that can increase the risk of gallstones. In one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, turmeric had significantly increased the levels of oxalate in urine as compared to placebo. Turmeric supplements of 20 – 40 mg were also reported to increase gallbladder contractions.
Stop taking turmeric if you have any type of gallbladder issues or if you are on medication for the same.
4. Lower Blood Pressure
Well, this could sound like a benefit. But lowering blood pressure way too much can cause complications. High doses of turmeric can lower blood pressure, and hence individuals on blood pressure medications must exercise caution while consuming turmeric.
Avoid turmeric if you are already on blood pressure medicaiton.
5. Risk Of Kidney Stones
Too much of turmeric might increase the risk of kidney stones. This is because of the presence of oxalates in turmeric. The oxalates can bind to calcium to form insoluble calcium oxalate, which is primarily responsible for kidney stones. Hence, if you have a tendency to form kidney stones, turmeric is a strict NO for you.
In one study, turmeric ingestion had lead to a higher urinary oxalate excretion when compared to cinnamon, thereby substantiating the fact that it can cause kidney stones.
Avoid turmeric if you are suffering from any kind of kidey issues, especially kidney stones.
6. Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric is safe for pregnant women only when it is used as a spice in food dishes. Turmeric supplements must be avoided during pregnancy. And in case you are allergic to turmeric, it is best to avoid it during pregnancy.
Most importantly, there is not enough information available on turmeric side effects on pregnant and breastfeeding women. And since they are crucial periods in any woman’s life, it is best to keep turmeric away temporarily.
Turmeric has been rarely studied in breastfeeding women, and it is quite unknown if its active compounds would pass through breast milk. The resultant effects on breastfed infants are also unknown.
As there is insufficient information in this regard, avoiding turmeric completely during pregnancy and breastfeeding will be ideal.
7. Diarrhea And Nausea
Diarrhea and nausea are two of the common symptoms associated with turmeric supplementation. This is because curcumin in turmeric has a tendency to irritate the gastrointestinal tract.
As per certain clinical studies, individuals that supplemented with 3.6 to 8 grams of curcumin per day for 4 months experienced mild nausea (3.6 to 8 grams of curcumin per day is a relatively high dose). Even low doses of curcumin can provoke nausea in certain individuals.
Take turmeric within limit. If you observe any symptoms, stop the intake and consult your doctor immediately.
8. Not With Blood Thinning Medicines
Curcumin in turmeric has shown to decrease platelet function, and hence must be avoided by those who are on blood-thinning medications. Individuals on medications like Warfarin or Coumadin (an anticoagulant) must steer clear of curcumin, as it can magnify the effects of the blood thinning medications.
Avoid turmeric when you are on a blood thinning medication.
9. Cause Allergic Reactions
Curcumin can be a contact allergen. Certain individuals have reported contact dermatitis and urticaria due to contact with turmeric. Since turmeric belongs to the ginger family, one is more likely to be allergic to it if (s)he is allergic to ginger. You can also be allergic to turmeric if you are allergic to yellow food colouring.
Turmeric can also cause skin outbreaks like rashes and shortness of breath. Reactions can occur from both skin contact and ingestion.
If you have an allergy for yellow food colouring, it’s best to stay away from turmeric.
10. Lead To Infertility
Turmeric, if taken by mouth by men, might lower testosterone levels and decrease the sperm movement. This might eventually lead to infertility.
Take turmeric in moderation and avoid excess usage.
11. Cause Iron Deficiency
As per studies, compounds in turmeric were found to bind to iron. This could decrease the body’s ability to absorb iron from food, thereby leading to iron deficiency.
If you are already deficient in iron, avoid turmeric and consult your doctor regarding its usage. Check your iron levels in your blood before regularly including turmeric in your diet.
12. Risky During Surgery
This has again to do with turmeric’s tendency to inhibit the blood-clotting process. Patients who are considering surgery must refrain from consuming turmeric one to two weeks before surgery.
If you are considering surgery, you must refrain from consuming turmeric one to two weeks before surgery.
Interactions Of Turmeric With Medications
Following is the list of medications turmeric might interact with – hence, stay away from the spice as long as you are taking these meds –
Blood thinning medications like warfarin, clopidogrel, aspirin, etc.
Medications that reduce stomach acid like cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), rantidine (Zantac), esomeprazole (Nexium), omeprazole (Prilosec), and lansoprazole (Prevacid).
Interactions With Herbs
Turmeric might also interact with certain herbs. Though the effects of its interactions with herbs like black pepper and ginger are unclear, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Do consult your doctor before you use turmeric with any of the two.
Recommended Turmeric Dosage
Though turmeric has certain side effects, it indeed is essential for optimal health. And the only way to avoid the side effects is by using the right dosage. Following are the recommended dosages for different forms of turmeric –
Powdered dry root
1.5 to 2.5 grams per day.
1.2 to 1.8 grams per day.
You can steep 15 grams of turmeric root in 135 ml of boiling water. You can take this preparation twice daily.
30 to 90 drops of the extract per day.
15 to 30 drops of the tincture 4 times per day.
Although using turmeric frequently in your cooking is a great way to take advantage of the spice (particularly with healthy fats and black pepper), turmeric only contains about three percent absorbable curcumin in the powdered form used in food. Along with adding turmeric into your diet, you may also consider taking it or curcumin in supplement form — some high-quality turmeric supplements contain up to 95 percent curcuminoids.
There are a few things to consider when purchasing a good turmeric supplement. For one, try to find a turmeric supplement containing black pepper to get the maximum absorbability. Second, consider a fermented turmeric pill or capsule — the pre-digestion process of fermentation helps you to absorb it more effectively.
Fermentation also increases the presence of tetrahydracurcuminoids (THC), which are especially potent in the body. Unfermented turmeric would usually metabolize in the digestive system and create THC compounds at that point, but much of the potential would be lost by the time they’re metabolized. Last, make sure that the product you get is made from organic turmeric if at all possible, with no GMOs.
If you choose to take a curcumin or turmeric supplement, there are no specific instructions for what time of day to take turmeric, as it doesn’t cause drowsiness or stimulant effects. I like to take my supplements in the morning, just to maintain a consistent habit.
Turmeric is also available as an essential oil, which can be used alongside turmeric in food and supplement form. I personally prefer consuming a CO2-extracted form of turmeric essential oil. Quality is key here, particularly if you’re going to use turmeric essential oil internally. Always dilute in water or other liquids. For example, you can put one drop in a smoothie in the morning.
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