5 benefits of the healing power of Turmeric

Posted on June 20, 2016
Photo Credits: youthfulninja.com

Photo Credits: youthfulninja.com

The Medicine in your Kitchen – 5 benefits of the healing power of Turmeric

Turmeric_60_tabs-300x300How adding Turmeric to your diet may help with Inflammation, Arthritis, Depression, Alzheimer’s and Liver Health.

Turmeric is turning into one of the most popular supplements of the decade with more and more research piling in demonstrating the benefits of this famous herb.

In Indian and South East Asian Traditional Medicine turmeric was used more than just as a spice for food, but as a medicine in its own right. It was believed to help digestion, relieve pain and inflammation, and was used both topically and internally.

Cultures that consume a lot of turmeric (for example people in India and the island Okinawa in Japan) seem to experience less Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in old age than people do in European, American and Australian cultures. There are of course many factors that may account for this, such as significant differences in diet quality, exercise and other lifestyle habits, however this fact has drawn scientist’s attention and now much research has been done into the medicinal powers of turmeric.

Research has shown turmeric may indeed help with many conditions including inflammatory illnesses, cognitive health and even depression.

There are many ways you can consume this humble spice whether you add it to cooking, brew it up as tea, add to a smoothie, or take it as a concentrated supplement for its medicinal benefits.

One of the active ingredients in turmeric is called curcumin. It is this substance that may account for many of turmeric’s benefits. Unfortunately curcumin is quite hard for the body to absorb without consuming quite a large volume of turmeric powder. Many capsules have gotten around this by using a concentrated amount of curcumin combined with other nutrients that enhance the curcumin absorption such as phospholipids. This can increase the curcumin absorption by up to 100 fold.

If you are wanting some of the stronger benefits of turmeric it may be best to take a capsule or tablet form with high absorption. If you just want to use extra turmeric in your diet to help ward off chronic disease a simple strategy you can use is to consume a pinch of black pepper with your turmeric powder and this can help with the absorption of the curcumin also.

Below is a summary of some of the amazing benefits of this golden herb

1. INFLAMMATION AND PAIN RELIEF

Components in turmeric have been found to help with a variety of inflammatory illnesses such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune conditions. Turmeric is high in potent anti oxidants that may account for some of its beneficial effects as increased oxidation is associated with many inflammatory conditions. Not only that, curcumin from turmeric has directly been found to reduce activity of the COX-2 and 5-LOX enzymes in the body. These enzyme pathways are involved in the inflammation response in the body and are the direct target of many pain relieving anti-inflammatory drugs. However, unlike many anti-inflammatory drugs, turmeric does not seem to have the damaging effects on the stomach lining that many pharmaceutical drugs have.

2. ARTHRITIS

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects have a direct benefit for pain relief in both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. But not only that, compounds in turmeric may even partially help prevent further breakdown and damage to cartilage in the joint thereby reducing the progression of diseases such as osteoarthritis. This means turmeric has a dual action in both relieving the symptoms of these diseases and possibly even preventing further damage occurring.

3. DEPRESSION

What many people do not realise is that depression is now also classified as a disease associated with chronic inflammation, especially in the brain. Many anti-depressants are now known to work not just by effecting serotonin levels in the brain, but by reducing inflammation in the brain as well. With this in mind researchers have begun investigating whether turmeric has some anti-depressant effects. It is too early to convincingly say, however a mini-meta analysis of 6 clinical trials did seem to show benefits for depression with high doses of curcumin from turmeric. A word of warning – the effect was small and I do NOT recommend anyone take themselves off of anti-
depressants without speaking to their doctor first. That said, turmeric extract is very safe and may be a useful supplement to take if you are suffering from depression and is safe to take in conjunction with antidepressant medication.

4. ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA

Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible disease that causes a person to lose their memory and much of their cognitive function. It is traumatic for the person suffering and devastating to the families who care for them. Whilst drug therapies show the most promise in treating this disease, researchers have began looking at safe options to help prevent this terrible illness. Turmeric has been found in animal and in-vitro studies to reduce build up for plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Excess oxidation and inflammation is also a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease and it know that turmeric helps reduce both of these factors also. Trials are still underway in humans as to whether turmeric will work as a preventative strategy, yet given its safety many people have begun consuming more of this herb if they are concerned about their risk for these illnesses.

5. LIVER HEALTH

Turmeric has been found in some studies to lower levels of raised liver enzymes. It is believed to do this in part by lowering inflammatory damage in the liver, and by raising the livers potent anti-oxidant known as glutathione. Raised liver enzymes are of course a medical concern and must be addressed with your health practitioner, however if you want to keep your liver healthy it makes sense to add some turmeric into your diet at the very least. I have a friend from Okinawa and he says the Okinawan Islanders, famous for their health and longevity, consume turmeric to ward off hangovers. No research has confirmed this (and I tried it, it didn’t work!) but it is interesting that studies have been done to show that turmeric may help the liver, and this is exactly what it was being traditionally used for.

HOW TO USE TURMERIC

You can either choose to use Turmeric in a supplemental form or as a food. For advice regarding supplements come in and chat to our qualified staff about which product may be best for you. We also carry turmeric in powdered form, liquid form and as a paste to add to curries, soups and stir fries. Turmeric is also excellent mixed with Chai as a tea and dash of honey.

GOLDEN LATTEShome_ad_2

A delicious way to enjoy turmeric is to use it to make Golden Lattes. Mix half a teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a pinch each of black pepper, clove and dried ginger in a mug. Add a dash of hot water and mix into a paste. Fill the rest of the mug with warmed milk of your choice or more hot water and stir. You can add a dash of honey for sweetness. We now stock Turmeric Golden Latte blends in store if you would like an easy way to make one.

 

Article written by Jad Patrick – Naturopath and Counsellor at Prahran Health Foods

 

REFERENCES

  1. Al-Karawi D, Al Mamoori DA, Tayyar Y (2016), “The Role of Curcumin Administration in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: Mini Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials”. Phytotherapeutic Research, Volume 30, Issue 2.
  2. Perrone, D. et al (2015) “Biological and therapeutic activities, and anticancer properties of turmeric”, Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. Volume 10, issue 5.
  3. Goozee, K. G., Shah, T.M., Sohrabi, H.R., Rainey-Smith, S.R., Brown, B., Verdille, G. &
  4. Martins, R.N. (2016) “Examining the potential clinical value of curcumin in the
  5. prevention and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease”, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 115, Issue 3.
  6. Hugel, H.M. (2015) “Brain food for Alzheimer-Free Ageing: Focus on Herbal Medicines”, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology.
  7. Peddada, K.V., Peddada, K.V., Shukla, S.K., Mishra, A. & Verma, V. (2015) “Role of curcumin in common musculoskeletal disorders: a review of current laboratory, translational, and clinical data”. Orthopaedic Surgery. Volume 3 pp. 222-231.