Learn More About Turmeric
What is turmeric?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a traditional Indian curry spice, belongs to the ginger family. Used as a yellow food coloring, turmeric has been used in traditional medicine in India and Ancient Egypt for at least 6000 years. For the last several decades, various scientific trials and medical studies have strongly suggested that curcumin and other compounds found in turmeric may have a number of extremely important health benefits, potentially making it perhaps the single most important herb to take from a nutritional standpoint.
What is turmeric used for?
Among users of supplements, turmeric may be most famous for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric appears to do this by blocking/inhibiting enzymes that promote the synthesis of inflammatory substances in the body. The natural anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric and the curcuminoid substances it contains compare in strength to some steroidal and non-steroidal drugs, although this herb does not seem to have any dangerous side effects.
While turmeric’s ability to reduce the pain and swelling of inflammation is significant in and of itself, keep in mind that many researchers believe that chronic inflammation can lead to degenerative conditions such arthritis, arteriosclerosis, and even Alzheimer’s.etc. A real possibility exists that daily use of turmeric may reduce the long term risk of developing these diseases.
Various extracts of turmeric exhibit strong antioxidant activity, comparable to vitamins C and E. One study showed turmeric to be eight times more powerful that vitamin E in preventing lipid peroxidation, the oxidation of fatty tissue. Compared to vitamin C, turmeric is three times as potent in neutralizing free-radical molecules. Several studies have demonstrated turmeric’s ability not only to reduce oxidative stress, but also to down-regulate harmful levels of nitric oxide, a key element in oxidative tissue damage that may contribute to carcinogenesis, that is, the beginning of cancer.
Indeed, a number of nutrition-oriented scientists and doctors now suggest that a daily dose of turmeric may help to reduce the long-term risk of various cancers such those affecting breast and prostate tissue, although more research needs to be done in this area.
Interestingly, turmeric also seems to help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and to decrease the oxidation of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, and to inhibit platelet aggregation, much like aspirin.. These effects have been noted even with low doses of turmeric.
Turmeric has been found to have a hepatoprotective, or liver-protective, effect much like that of milk thistle. Several studies point to turmeric’s beneficial effects in protecting liver tissue from a variety of chemical insults caused by chemicals and drugs. Turmeric has also been found to reverse biliary hyperplasia, fatty liver and liver necrosis induced by aflatoxin, a mold commonly found growing on peanuts.
How is turmeric taken?
Other than in cooked foods, the most common way to ingest turmeric is in the form of either liquid extracts or pills. Most consumers prefer the latter form, usually in does of several hundred milligrams. Those wishing to benefit from turmeric’s possible protective will probably just take the extract once a day with food, whereas those with inflammatory or other health issues might want to take it two or three times a day, also with food.
Is turmeric safe?
Turmeric has been found to be pharmacologically safe in doses up to ten grams a day, but do not take that much yourself. Since turmeric acts as mild blood thinner, those with bleeding disorders or who take the prescription drug Coumadin should see their doctor before taking this herb.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.