Turmeric, also known as curcuma longa, is an ancient spice and very common herb. Often referred to as the “Queen of Spices,” its main characteristics are a pepper-like aroma, sharp taste, and golden color.
They belong to the ginger family and is a prized component of the culinary traditions of these cultures. Turmeric imparts a vibrant yellowish hue to curry dishes, and the spice is used as a natural dyeing agent for cloth. People across the globe use this herb in their cooking.
According to the Journal of the American Chemical Society, turmeric contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcuminoids are the main phytochemicals that give turmeric its most impressive and wide-ranging health benefits. Amazingly, over 9,000 medical and clinical research studies have evaluated turmeric and curcumin and yielded a wealth of positive information.
It is also loaded with many healthy nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. Due to all these factors, turmeric is often used to treat a wide variety of health problems.
Health benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. Turmeric provides an abundance of antioxidants capable of supporting cellular health. We listed the benefits of turmeric below.
1. Turmeric May Help Prevent Cancer
Turmeric can help prevent prostate cancer, stop the growth of existing prostate cancer and even destroy cancer cells. Multiple researchers have found that the active components in turmeric make it one of the best protectors against radiation-induced tumors. It also has a preventive effect against tumor cells such as T-cell leukemia, colon carcinomas, and breast carcinomas.
Studies have also shown that it can reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis (the spread of cancer), as well as contribute to the death of cancerous cells (1).
2. Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind aging and many chronic diseases.
Free radicals which are generated in the body tend to react with important organic substances, such as fatty acids, proteins or DNA.
The main reason antioxidants are so beneficial, is that they protect our bodies from free radicals by mopping up these free radicals and this helps keep inflammation at bare.
In that way, curcumin delivers a one-two punch against free radicals. It blocks them directly, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms.
3. Turmeric May Relieve Arthritis
The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric are great for treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis is a common problem in the world. There are several different types, but most involve some sort of inflammation in the joints.
Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that it could help with arthritis.
It has been found that those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who consumes turmeric on a regular basis experience much relief from the moderate to mild joint pains as well as joint inflammation.
Several studies show this to be true. A research Studies carried out on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug (9).
4. Turmeric May Have Anti-Depressants Properties
Curcumin has shown some promise in treating depression.
Although few studies have been conducted on humans, dozens of research trials have proven that turmeric is especially effective in correcting depression symptoms in laboratory animals.
To address this issue a controlled trial was carried out on 60 patients who were randomized into three groups (12).
One group took Prozac, another group took a gram of curcumin and the third group took both Prozac and curcumin.
After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements that were similar to Prozac. The group that took both Prozac and curcumin fared best.
According to this (small) study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant.
5. Turmeric May Prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia.
Unfortunately, there is no good treatment available for Alzheimer’s yet. Therefore prevention is the best bet.
Inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease and curcumin has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property (13).
Turmeric supports overall brain health by aiding in the removal of plaque build-up in the brain and improving the flow of oxygen.
This can also prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Regulates Blood Sugar Level
Turmeric can be used in the treatment of diabetes by helping to moderate insulin levels. It also improves glucose control and increases the effect of medications used to treat diabetes.
Another significant benefit is turmeric’s effectiveness in helping reduce insulin resistance, which may prevent the onset of Type-2 diabetes.
However, when combined with strong medications, turmeric can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
It is best to consult a healthcare professional before taking turmeric capsules.
7. Reduces Cholesterol Level
Research has proven that simply using turmeric as a food seasoning can reduce serum cholesterol levels.
It is a known fact that high cholesterol can lead to other serious health problems. Maintaining a proper cholesterol level can prevent many cardiovascular diseases.
8. Wound Healing
Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used as an effective disinfectant.
A study in the Sept 2014 issue of Life Sciences found that the curcumin in turmeric offers beneficial properties that appear to accelerate the wound healing process by soothing irritation and oxidation
If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process. Turmeric also helps repair damaged skin and may be used to treat psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.