8 Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin
Turmeric is a commonly used spice that originates from the Curcuma plant and it may in fact be one of the most effective natural nutritional supplements that exist today. There have been many studies to show that turmeric can be very beneficial for both your body and brain.
Turmeric is a plant that has a very long history of medicinal use, dating back nearly 4000 years and is one of the most studied substances in modern dietary medicine today – with over 3000 publications concerning turmeric released in the last 25 years.1
Turmeric has been extensively used within Chinese and Indian cultures and is best consumed in its pure sense, rather than as a component of curry powder or other spices.
However, the Western world has been slow to notice the health benefits of turmeric, despite the fact that turmeric has been extensively studies and shown to provide many health benefits.
Inflammation is incredibly important for our body’s immunity. It helps our bodies fight foreign invaders; pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us without our inflammatory response. It also plays a role in repairing damage. However, while acute, short-term inflammation is beneficial, it can become a major problem when it becomes chronic.
Scientists now believe that chronic, low level inflammation plays a major role in many Western diseases today including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease and other degenerative conditions. Anything that can help prevent chronic inflammation is therefore highly valuable in treating and preventing these diseases.
Turmeric can help support a healthy inflammatory response2
Studies confirm Turmeric acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, helping to combat free radicals and potentially mitigate some of the damage they can cause – such as joint pain and chronic disease.3
Curcumin, the oil derived from turmeric, has been studied in numerous experiments, and has been shown to be equally as effective as typical anti-inflammatory drugs. The key difference is there are no side effects associated with curcumin oil. It works by blocking NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of the body’s cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. Curcumin is a bioactive substance that fights inflammation at the molecular level.
This is great news for those who suffer from joint conditions, such as arthritis, where inflammation plays a key role in exacerbating chronic pain.
Lowering the Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world.
Researchers have been studying heart disease for decades with many things contributing to this complicated disease.
However, studies have shown that turmeric has a protective effect on the heart. Initial research has shown that turmeric can help to reduce the build-up of plaque in the heart, a key contributor to heart attacks. Turmeric may also help to prevent oxidized cholesterol, which is what damages blood vessels and it also improves the function of the endothelium, the lining of your blood vessels. The endothelium helps regulate blood pressure and blood clotting amongst other things and a dysfunctional endothelium or damaged blood vessels are a critical factor in many heart diseases, such as health attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis.
Turmeric and curcumin also help to reduce inflammation and oxidation, which also play a role in heart disease.
Turmeric has been shown to have important antioxidant properties, which may help to protect cells against cancer, particularly in cells in the colon. Turmeric can help to protect vulnerable cells against free radicals, which can be harmful to the body.
Moreover, turmeric can help the body to expel mutated cells that may have developed cancer already. However, research is still working out how turmeric can help with cancer prevention.
Alzheimer’s is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world but unfortunately there are no treatments for this terrible disease just yet. Therefore, prevention of this disease is of utmost importance.
Turmeric has been shown to have beneficial effects on inflammation and oxidative damage, both of which play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Early studies have also shown that it can help clear buildups of amyloid plaques, which are a key feature of this disease.
However, more studies are needed to confirm whether turmeric and curcumin can really slow down or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Arthritis is a common problem that involves inflammation of the joints, which can be incredibly painful and debilitating. Given that turmeric and curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that it may help people suffering from arthritis. In some cases, it has even shown to be more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs.
Indigestion and Heartburn Relief
Turmeric has also been shown to help with the common conditions of indigestion and heartburn. These are frequently experienced by individuals and can be incredibly uncomfortable.
Turmeric stimulates the gallbladder and increases bile production; in Germany, turmeric is prescribed for such problems.
Research has shown that turmeric can actually delay the onset of diabetes. In a study, participants were tracked over a period of time and given either a placebo or curcumin tablets.
At the end of the study, not one participant who had taken the curcumin had developed diabetes. It is argued this finding is due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin.
High cholesterol is a common disorder and has been linked to many different, some serious, disorders.
Initial research shows that the oil in turmeric, curcumin oil, can help to lower cholesterol levels. It works on the liver and encourages it to produce more receptors that produce lower cholesterol.
Turmeric and curcumin have numerous benefits for a healthy body and mind and is particularly good at supporting the body’s natural inflammatory response. However, most turmeric supplements on the market today only contain the isolated form of turmeric, not the full-spectrum chemistry with 199+ active compounds. It is therefore vital to choose a full-spectrum turmeric supplement that can be properly and easily absorbed by your body for maximum benefits.
Everyone should seek medical advice before adding extra turmeric to their diet and sometimes it may actually have negative effects for some people, for example, its ability to slow blood clotting could be dangerous for anyone taking anticoagulant medication. If in doubt, speak to your medical professional.
- Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor, Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.
- Chainani-Wu N. Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa). The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine. 2003 Feb 1;9(1):161-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12676044
- Rahman K. Studies on free radicals, antioxidants, and co-factors. Clinical interventions in aging. 2007 Jun;2(2):219. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684512/