Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow colour. Commercially available curry powder contains it. You can also buy it as a stand-alone powdered spice and mix it with your favourite combination of other spices. However, since the spice contains far too little of the active ingredient, called curcumin, you need to obtain a turmeric supplement to enjoy these health benefits. Inflammation is responsible for a wide variety of modern diseases, including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer. Others are Alzheimer’s disease, various autoimmune disorders, skin irritations, allergies, and even depression. It is, thus, crucial to keep the chronic level of inflammation in your body as low as possible so that it cannot cause any of these common health problems. Regular consumption of turmeric may just help, as it has been shown to regulate numerous of the transcription factors, cytokines, protein kinases, adhesion molecules, redox status, and enzymes that cause inflammation.
Turmeric's Anti-Inflammatory Effect against Cancer
Some studies have found that turmeric acted against leukaemia, colon, stomach, CNS, melanoma, renal, and breast cancer cell lines by blocking the enzymes responsible for the inflammatory action that cause their growth and proliferation. This obviously does not imply that you should abandon your cancer treatment in favour of turmeric, but if you have already been diagnosed with cancer, you can use it to supplement the treatment your physician has prescribed. Even better, in combination with a generally healthy lifestyle, you can take turmeric regularly to help prevent the low-level chronic inflammation that causes the cell deviations that cause cancer.
In a study that compared various non-steroidal anti-inflammatories' ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, scored higher than aspirin and ibuprofen and equivalent to many good anti-inflammatories on the market.
Turmeric's Anti-Inflammatory Effect against Heart Attack
Researchers who studied the role of turmeric following coronary artery bypass grafting found that patients on turmeric were less likely to suffer myocardial infarction than those without it. They attributed this better outcome to the anti-inflammatory role of turmeric. Do not wait for bypass surgery before purchasing your turmeric supplement, though, in combination with a healthy lifestyle, its anti-inflammatory properties are even more useful to prevent such an extreme event.
Turmeric's Anti-Inflammatory Effect against Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis involves extreme inflammation in the joints that gets progressively worse. Osteoarthritis involves the age-related degeneration of joint cartilage and the bones that support them. Both are normally treated with anti-inflammatories, and the progression of rheumatoid arthritis can be slowed considerably by good anti-inflammatories. Researchers have discovered that turmeric can improve the symptoms of both osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. Not only can it reduce stiffness and swelling, but it can also improve sufferers' ability to walk and run, as they proved on a treadmill.
Turmeric as Powerful Antioxidant
Oxygen is essential for the body's cells to function properly. Unfortunately, however, oxygen can also damage cells by breaking their electrons. These damaged cells then steal electrons away from unbroken cells, that must then steal electrons away from further unbroken cells. All these broken cells that scavenge around the body for electrons are called free radicals. Since free radicals break cells, they are responsible for your body's aging as well as for some diseases like cancer. Antioxidants are substances that donate intact electrons to free radicals to repair them, that repair cells already damaged by free radicals, and that destroy free radicals before they can damage more cells. Turmeric is such an antioxidant.
Turmeric's Antioxitive Effect on Wound Healing
Some studies have tentatively concluded that turmeric, or more precisely curcumin, speed up the healing of wounds by repairing the cells that are damaged and by preventing already-damaged cells from being damaged further. More research is needed to draw a definitive conclusion, but with these findings in place, turmeric cream that is applied to the skin surface has become popular to treat anything from cuts to sunburn damage.
Turmeric's Anti Oxidative Effect on Aging
Since researchers have only recently become interested in turmeric, they have not been able to test its effect on the human lifespan. The research on wound healing certainly suggests that its ability to repair damaged cells can slow aging. Studies that tested this hypothesis on the nematode roundworm, the fruit fly Drosophila, and the common mouse found exactly that. By limiting oxidative damage to cells, turmeric managed to extend the lifespan of all three of these organisms.
Turmeric for Heart Health
Some researchers have concluded that, in combination with traditional medicine, turmeric is a promising intervention to prevent and even treat atherosclerosis. It seems to inhibit deposition of fatty material on the inner walls of arteries, which is exactly what atherosclerosis involves. More generally, to prevent blood clotting and to help regulate blood pressure, the inner arterial walls, called the endothelium, must remain strong, firm, and clean. Some studies have found that turmeric can aid the effective functioning of the endothelium as much as exercise and prescribed statins do. This does not mean you should abandon your exercise program and your statins. Instead, use them in combination for the largest benefit. Turmeric does not offer all the fitness and weight loss benefits that exercise provides.
Whether you are depressed or keen on improving your cognitive functioning, give turmeric a try.
Turmeric and Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia ruin so much of our later years. Researchers are optimistic that turmeric can contribute to both prevention and treatment. It has been shown to inhibit the build-up of amyloid plaques, which is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, and can therefore reverse both the cognitive and behavioural symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are also speculated to play a role. With the treatment of dementia still in its infancy, you have nothing to lose by giving a good supplement to your elderly relatives. It has no side effects.
Turmeric and Depression
Researchers have discovered that turmeric have definite benefits for those with major depressive disorder and have speculated that this could be due to several different biological mechanisms in the brain and hormonal system. Antidepressants normally have severe side effects, many of which unfortunately worsen the condition they are supposed to treat. Since turmeric does not interfere with energy, appetite, sleep, and libido, it is definitely the best route to follow before visiting the psychiatrist for synthetic medication.
Turmeric's Effect on Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor
Brain derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, is a hormone that helps neurons to multiply. An increase in healthy neurons facilitates good cognitive and emotional functioning. Researchers have concluded that turmeric can increase the amount of BDNF in the brain, and that this is partly responsible for its ability to moderate the symptoms of dementia and depression.
A Turmeric Supplement
It is important to remember that all of the above studies tested subjects on 20mg to 500mg of turmeric per day. Even if you eat turmeric with every meal, you are unlikely to consume enough to enjoy the health benefits. Moreover, supplements package turmeric with substances that promote its absorption by your body, while the turmeric from your curry may pass through your digestive tract unabsorbed. A supplement is, thus, essential.