If you’re looking for a nutritional supplement that is the Baskin Robbins of the health food industry – you know, 98 flavors and all that stuff – you might consider turmeric, with its key ingredient curcumin. Turmeric/curcumin might just be the Jack or Jill of all trades among supplements because of the many ways it can contribute to our good health, from top to bottom and from side to side with our bodies.
Turmeric is a bright-yellow spice, a potent one at that, best known for its antioxidant makeup as well as its wide use as an anti-inflammatory – qualities that mean turmeric can cover a lot of ground when it comes to good health. Not only that, but its spunky taste (it’s extracted from a plant family that makes turmeric a close “cousin” to the similarly popular ginger) has for centuries made it a popular culinary addition to various cuisines in many parts of the world, including the United States. Here's an ultimate guide to turmeric and curcumin that will give you plenty of information on the topic.
Curcumin Packs a Punch
The ingredient curcumin constitutes only about 3 percent of turmeric’s weight, but it packs a wallop in the worlds of folk and natural medicines. It has been doing this for centuries; more recently it has emerged as a pantry staple used in kitchens and on dinner tables for enhancing flavor in meals across America.
Per wellnessmama.com, one of curcumin’s purported properties is that it can counteract an enzyme that, left unopposed, can turn environmental toxins into carcinogens in the body. Nasty enzyme. Additionally, curcumin also might be able to enhance our ability to digest fats and sugars as well as diminish inflammation in the digestive system. It gets better.
Here’s a number to think about: 160. According to research, as cited at globalhealingcenter.com, curcuminoids – the phytochemicals that comprise the curcumin found in turmeric – “communicate with 160 mechanisms and pathways in the body to support a wide range of processes, including brain health, cardiovascular health, tissue health, and more.”
Turmeric and Curcumin’s Many Benefits
That said, let’s dive in and look at some of the dozens of health benefits linked to turmeric/curcumin – one website we visited, turmericforhealth.com, listed 100 (presumably without breaking a sweat). As always, before adding turmeric/curcumin to your regular diet, be sure to consult with your physician; talk it through:
- Blood pressure. Research has shown curcumin’s capacity to dilate the blood vessels, thus cutting resistance to blood flow.
- Bone health. Has been shown to surpass some conventional anti-arthritic drugs used in treating osteoarthritis. Also, has been found to protect bone tissue, prevent bone loss, and help in the treatment of bone fractures, per turmericforhealth.com.
- Cognitive function. Reports conflict on how much, if any, cognitive benefits supplements can provide, but turmeric’s use in traditional medicine has shown promise in areas such as boosting concentration and memory retention, per organicfacts.net.
- Depression. Studies have found curcumin to mimic Prozac in terms of providing relief for patients beset with depression, mood swings, anxiety and stress, per organicfacts.net.
- Detoxification. Has been found to enhance liver function while lowering the body’s toxic levels. Chalk this up to turmeric’s antioxidant properties.
- Heal wounds. Because it is a potent anti-microbial agent, turmeric has long been used to help in the healing of wounds, thanks to its ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
- Healthy cholesterol levels. A high dosage of curcumin sustained for three months has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Along those lines, it also might help reduce atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) as well as help in several other heart-related issues.
- Healthy stomach. There is scientific evidence that turmeric can not only bolster the protective effects of the stomach lining, but it can also protect cells in the stomach and aid in digestion, per globalhealingcenter.com.
- Joint health. Got stiff and/or sore joints? Try turmeric, which has demonstrated an ability to outperform other more “standard” treatments in relieving bothersome joint symptoms, while being relatively free of side effects.
- Menstrual issues. Turmeric’s soothing and anti-inflammatory characteristics have been found to relieve symptoms such as severe discomfort, cramping, bloating, and bleeding related to menstrual issues.
- Thyroid health. A turmeric-laden diet has been shown to reduce the incidence of goiter, and in diminishing inflammation in thyroiditis, per turmericforhealth.com.
- Weight loss. Supplementation with curcumin is believed to quicken weight-loss diets and exercise programs by boosting metabolic health and preventing the deposit of fats.