by Manry G.
June 14, 2019
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric root, is a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic. It is used worldwide to help prevent chronic sicknesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, heart disease, stroke, cancer, depression, and Alzheimer's disease.
Most of us are probably aware of the numerous turmeric products available in drugstores and supermarkets. We've seen them all -- turmeric supplements, turmeric powdered juice, turmeric tea, turmeric snacks, turmeric candy, and even turmeric face mask. I won't be surprised if someone would produce turmeric essential oils to be used as air freshener. Though I still have to meet anyone who would want their house to smell like turmeric. Kidding aside, the abundance of turmeric products in the market may have probably sparked curiosity in your minds. What is turmeric and why are a lot of people using it as part of their health regimen?
Read along and you'll soon find out the probable reasons.
When I was first introduced to turmeric, I did what someone curious would do: read about it. I did my homework and researched everything that spells turmeric. This is when I learned that this pungent rhizome does not only add flavor to my curry meal. It is also used for a number of health benefits.
Turmeric is actually a flowering plant that belongs to the ginger family and is native to Asia particularly in India and Southeast Asia. The rhizomes or root of the turmeric plant are ground into an orange-yellow powder and used as a flavoring and coloring agent. The turmeric root (which we will refer here simply as Turmeric) has a warm and bitter taste that is used as a spice and key ingredient in a lot of Asian dishes such as curry.
Turmeric is widely used as a traditional medicine dating back nearly 4000 years in India and in other Asian and African countries. It is only in recent times where the Western world is finally opening its doors to alternative medicines such as turmeric. In the last 25 years, studies and publications were made under modern medicine about the effects of turmeric in preventing or even treating sickness.
The Wonders of Curcumin
Turmeric contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties. The main active ingredient in turmeric is a yellow-colored chemical called Curcumin. It is a very strong antioxidant and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects based on several studies. However, you won't have the full benefits of curcumin just by adding turmeric as spice in foods because the curcumin content in turmeric is only around 3% of the latter's weight. Therefore, it is recommended for you to take a turmeric supplement that contains high amounts of curcumin.
When you take a turmeric supplement, it is best to choose supplements containing turmeric combined with black pepper. By default, curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body into the bloodstream. The addition of Piperine, an alkaloid responsible for the pungency of black pepper, enhances absorption and utilization of curcumin to almost 98%, substantially increasing its effectiveness.
Below are some of the health benefits of turmeric/ curcumin based on studies:
Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory that may relieve joint pains.
Each day, our body is exposed to pathogens that can infect us and cause disease. Pathogens can be bacteria, virus, or any infectious foreign agent that can cause disease or illness to our bodies.
Our body's natural response to combat pathogens is through inflammation. Inflammation is the process where our white blood cells protect us from pathogens taking over our body and has an important role in repairing any damage in the body's tissues. Without inflammation, pathogens can cause illness that can result to damage or even death.
While inflammation is very important and beneficial to us, it can be problematic when it becomes chronic and when inflammation occurs in places where it is not needed, resulting to inappropriately damaging the body's own tissues. One example of this scenario is when someone suffers from arthritis. In this case, the body's immune system triggers an inflammation in the joints when there are no pathogens present to fight off. Chronic, low-level inflammation can lead to life-threatening complications and has been linked to heart disease, stroke, cancer, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory substance that effectively prevents inflammation by suppressing molecules, such as inflammatory cytokines, that signal inflammation. Regularly taking turmeric supplements may help prevent chronic inflammation that results to various autoimmune diseases, stroke, cancer, and heart disease. A study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis revealed the efficacy of curcumin where it can match the benefits of an anti-inflammatory drug in treating the symptoms of arthritis.
Turmeric may have anti-carcinogenic (anti-cancer) effects.
Chronic inflammation can cause DNA damage over time, leading to cancer. Since turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, it may also help prevent cancer caused by chronic inflammation. There are numerous studies that show that curcumin may prevent cancer from occurring and spreading (metastasis) at a molecular level, and inhibit the growth of new blood vessels in tumors (angiogenesis).
Turmeric may help prevent or lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Curcumin may prevent chronic inflammation that is linked to heart disease. Studies suggest that curcumin can improve the function of endothelial cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels and lympathic vessels. This lining, called endothelium, acts as a barrier that regulate blood pressure and blood clotting, and controls the passage of materials and transit of white blood cells into and out of the bloodstream. By improving the endothelial function, curcumin helps in preventing the onset of heart disease.
Chronic inflammation can lead to tissue edema and the buildup of plaque by white blood cells, eventually resulting to the development of a disease called Atherosclerosis. Endothelial dysfunction is a driver for vascular and heart diseases and happens when the endothelium was unable to perform its function. The use of curcumin may clear the plaque buildup and prevent heart disease and stroke from happening.
Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant that may help fight diseases and delay aging.
Most of us have already heard about antioxidants and free radicals; and maybe we are still confused on what those two words mean. To put it simply, free radicals are unstable and highly reactive atoms that can damage multiple cells, proteins and DNA code, resulting to aging and numerous diseases over time. Oxidative stress occurs with the presence of too many free radicals and damaged cells, proteins, lipids, and DNA code. Oxidative stress contributes to the development of various medical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, lupus, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and many other degenerative diseases.
While we may view free radicals as a villain in a movie, they are essential and contribute to the basic functions of our body that allows us to live. Free radicals are byproducts of chemical processes such as metabolism, which is the process by which our body converts the food we eat and drink into energy. They also play a vital role in our immune system by attacking foreign invaders or pathogens.
Antioxidants are natural substances that inhibit oxidative stress and protect the body from the damage produced by free radicals. Oxidative stress results when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, with the former outnumbering the latter. Though our body produces antioxidants on its own, it may not be sufficient to prevent free radicals from taking over the body. Additional antioxidants can be acquired by consuming fruits and vegetables. Curcumin in turmeric increases antioxidant capacity and stimulates the antioxidant enzymes and defenses of the body. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes and inhibits the production of free radicals.
Since curcumin acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance, it may also help delay aging and promote longevity by inhibiting oxidation and inflammation in the body, thus preventing the onset of chronic diseases.
Curcumin improves brain function and may prevent Alzheimer's disease.
Our brain is the control center of the body and most of our functions rely on a healthy brain. However, due to various reasons such as oxidation and inflammation, our brains are exposed to degenerative diseases. The most common neurodegenerative disease and cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. It is a condition where the brain cells degenerate and die, resulting to decline in cognitive abilities, and behavioral and social skills that allows us to function independently. Currently, there are no treatments available yet for Alzheimer's disease and the best way to tackle this is by preventing it from occurring in the first place.
You may have noticed by now that most of the diseases mentioned here are due to inflammation and oxidative stress, which curcumin has the ability to inhibit or prevent. Several studies show that curcumin may help stimulate the immune system to clear the brain of amyloid beta plaques, protein buildups which is one of the characteristics of Alzheimer's disease. Curcumin may also boost levels of a brain growth hormone called Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which increases the growth of new neurons that are capable of forming new connections in the brain. The increase in neurons and neural connections may be effective in delaying and staving off various degenerative processes in the brain.
Curcumin may be safe and effective in naturally treating depression.
Several studies found that curcumin has the potential to treat depression. Research has shown that depression is linked with chronic inflammation and reduced level of BDNF. Since curcumin may boost levels of BDNF, it can potentially reverse the symptoms of depression. A 2015 study revealed that curcumin can also help antidepressants work better. However, it is recommended to seek the advice of a doctor first before taking turmeric supplements with antidepressants. Lastly, research shows that curcumin boosts the brain neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, which are also referred to as the "feel good" chemicals in the brain. These chemicals contribute to the feeling of well-being and happiness of a person and creates feelings of pressure and reward. Low levels of these chemicals may influence a person's mood in a way that leads to depression.
Disclaimers and Warnings:
Now that you already know the health benefits of turmeric, it is prudent that you also take necessary precautions before consuming any turmeric products.
Before including turmeric supplements as part of your health regimen, it is always important to consult a doctor if you currently have an underlying medical condition that may be affected by the supplement. Never take turmeric supplements in lieu of any maintenance medicines without consulting a medical specialist first.
If you are pregnant or lactating, have a gallbladder disease or about to have a surgery, avoid taking any turmeric supplements as it might slow blood clotting and cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking turmeric for a minimum of 2 weeks before undergoing surgery. Avoid turmeric if you are taking blood thinners because high doses of turmeric can also act as blood thinner and cause stomach upset.
Turmeric supplements, just like any other food supplements, have no approved therapeutic claims and must not be used to treat any kind of sickness.
As a reward for reading until the end, here's a bonus fact just for you.
Seventy-five percent (75%) of the total turmeric produced worldwide each year come from India, which is also the largest consumer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Turmeric was used for a long time in Ayurvedic medicine, an Indian system of holistic healing which was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. Ayurvedic medicine is considered by the West as a form of complementary and alternative medicine.
Turmeric became an important part in the Indian's way of life. Aside from ayurvedic medicine, it was also used and adopted in domestic rituals and ceremonies, skin care, and even literature. It's amazing how the Indians were able to discover the many benefits of the turmeric root a very long time ago.
Do you have more benefits and experience about turmeric that you want to share? Please leave a comment below.
Are you already convinced to add turmeric to your health regimen? If yes, I'm happy to recommend to you this turmeric supplement from Essentials For Daily Living Corp. called ESSENTUR. The best thing about ESSENTUR is that it contains a combination of powdered turmeric and black pepper. As you already know, the addition of piperine in black pepper ensures optimal absorption and utilization of curcumin, making ESSENTUR almost completely bioavailable as compared to other brands. CLICK HERE to know more about ESSENTUR and to buy one for you and your loved ones.
Next Read: 10 Reasons Why Filipinos Should Prioritize Health and Wellness
June 21, 2019
I was surprised of the benefits of Turmeric! thank you for sharing this to us.
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by Manry G.
May 16, 2019
The leading cause of death in Filipinos are heart disease, cancer/ tumor, pneumonia, stroke/ hypertension, and diabetes. A change in lifestyle may be the key in preventing the onset of these degenerative diseases.
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The information provided is of general information only and is based on the opinions of the author only. You should always check with a healthcare professional or another specialist before following any information provided to you in this post.
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