What Are the Health Benefits of Turmeric?
The spice known as turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. Turmeric is a spice widely used throughout Asia and a main ingredient in curries. Due to its yellow color, it’s sometimes referred to as Indian saffron.
Many high-quality studies show that turmeric has major benefits for your body and brain. Many of these benefits come from its main active ingredient, curcumin.
In addition to enhancing flavor and color, turmeric has long been revered for its therapeutic benefits. As such, it’s a key ingredient of certain Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines.
But first what is Tumeric? And what is Curcumin?
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color.
It has been used in India for thousands of years as both a spice and medicinal herb. Recently, science has started to back up traditional claims that turmeric contains compounds with medicinal properties.
These compounds are called curcuminoids. The most important one is curcumin.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant effects.
What are some of the Health Benefits?
Recent studies show turmeric helps prevent and reduce joint inflammation. This reduces pain, stiffness, and inflammation related to arthritis. For digestive relief, pay close attention to the amount of turmeric in a supplement. High dosages can cause an upset stomach.
Turmeric is sometimes used to relieve joint pain associated with arthritis. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, a searchable tool for consumers, rates turmeric as “possibly effective” for this use.
Tumeric and Curcumin reduces pain, inflammation and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).
Turmeric can increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, a brain hormone that may help keep your brain more nimble and better able to fend off age-related cognitive decline and dementia.
Tumeric has been suggested as a possible reason that senior citizens in India, where curcumin is a dietary staple, have a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and better cognitive performance.
Turmeric improves the ability of the lining of the blood vessels to repair themselves, which could reduce blood pressure, risk of blood clots and strokes and the risk of heart disease.
Turmeric is being studied for its potential to slow or halt the growth of cancer cells. “Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, which means it’s anti-cancer,” says Daryl Gioffre, a celebrity nutritionist and author of “Get Off Your Acid: 7 Steps in 7 Days to Lose Weight, Fight Inflammation, and Reclaim Your Health and Energy.”
Many types of cancer thrive on inflammation throughout the whole body, and some evidence suggests turmeric might one day be used as not just a prevention, but also a treatment for cancer. Curcumin may help counter cell-signaling action involved in cancer development and spread within the body, according to a study in the May 2019 issue of the journal Nutrients.
Some lab studies have found it might work against lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Others suggest that curcumin might help chemotherapy work better. But most evidence about turmeric and cancer comes from studies on animals or cells in the lab.
Digestive System Effects
Because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can contribute to healthy digestion. It’s used in ayurvedic medicine as a digestive healing agent. Now Western medicine has begun to study how turmeric can help with gut inflammation and gut permeability, two measures of your digestive efficiency.
Turmeric may work directly on the digestive system to reduce inflammation. “Turmeric has prebiotic-like properties, which enable it to positively influence gut microbiota, supporting the gut-immune connection,” says Acacia Wright, a registered dietitian at Orgain, a clean protein brand based in Irvine, California.
Prebiotics are a kind of indigestible fiber that feed probiotics – the healthy microorganisms that live in the gut and contribute to a range of bodily functions and overall wellness. Improving the gut microbiome may make you less susceptible to a variety of infections and diseases.
Turmeric and especially its most active compound, curcumin have many scientifically proven health benefits, such as the potential to improve heart health and prevent against Alzheimer’s and cancer.
It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
While these benefits are possible, they are limited at this time because of curcumin’s scarce bioavailability, and more research is needed.
Daryl Gioffre, DC
Gioffre is a chiropractor, celebrity nutritionist and author of “Get Off Your Acid: 7 Steps in 7 Days to Lose Weight, Fight Inflammation and Reclaim Your Health and Energy.”
Acacia Wright, RD
Wright is a registered dietitian at Orgain, a clean protein brand based in Irvine, California.