Turmeric, a spice that is derived from the Curcuma longa plant, is a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant herb, with health benefits ranging from reducing joint pain, maintaining healthy blood flow, and even helping to prevent cancer. Curcumin, the active curcuminoid compound in the turmeric root, has been used for centuries in Indian and Eastern cultures as a medicinal herb to treat and prevent a plethora of diseases. When it comes to our culinary practices today, evidence indicates that we should all be adding this “flavor enhancer” to our diet so we can benefit from its nutritional and science-based healing powers. A daily dose of turmeric is good for the body, mind and probably the soul as well.
Curcumin, the therapeutic, bioactive component of turmeric, has long been touted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We know that the bioactive agents in turmeric are able to exert effects on a multitude of enzymes, thereby vastly spreading its health benefits among the body systems. To name a few such health benefits: turmeric supplements play an integral role in pain management, wound healing, anti-aging, cognitive function, digestion and cancer prevention.
And to top it off, the miraculous and medicinal qualities of turmeric root and turmeric supplements have been shown in numerous research studies! Recent clinical trials and lots of anecdotal evidence have demonstrated the numerous health benefits of turmeric. In many cases, the health benefits of turmeric have surpassed and been more effective than more conventional pharmaceutical therapies.
So, in essence, all roads seem to lead to turmeric. But when it comes down to it, what are the actual health benefits of consumption of turmeric root and turmeric supplements? How does it actually lead to improved health outcomes? To further convince you that you should include this herb in your life, here are 9 detailed reasons why you should turn up the turmeric heat in your kitchen starting today.
Anti-Inflammation: Turmeric is Nature’s Most Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Food
Quite possibly one of the most touted turmeric health benefits is its powerful anti-inflammatory property. By helping to kick inflammation to the curb, turmeric can do wonders for the skin, joints, gastrointestinal tract and so much more.
While a healthy amount of inflammation is crucial for keeping bad bacteria (i.e., pathogens that cause illness) in check, when inflammation gets out of hand for an extended period of time, this can lead to short and long term health problems. An excessive amount of chronic inflammatory stress associated with a hyperactive immune system can wreak havoc on the body’s systems. Long-term inflammation has been correlated with inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Luckily, turmeric supplements can help to play a significant role in keeping inflammation at bay! At a molecular level, curcumin has been shown to block an important pro-inflammatory nuclear factor known as NF-kB. By thwarting this molecule, curcumin prevents it from traveling into the nuclei of the cells and turning on pro-inflammatory genes. Studies show that this particular property of curcumin might even make it more powerful than well known anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. This means that supplementing with turmeric can promote faster skin healing in those suffering from psoriasis or chronic acne, faster reduction in joint pain in arthritic individuals, and strengthened intestinal mucosa in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Better yet, turmeric is all natural and does not have any adverse side effects (unless taken in excess).
Health Benefit 1: Reduces Joint Pain for Arthritis & Osteoarthritis
Generally speaking, turmeric’s anti-inflammatory capacity helps to reduce mediators of inflammation like interleukins, prostaglandins, and other proinflammatory cytokines, thereby decreasing the pain sensation. More specifically, supplementing with turmeric can lead to a significant reduction in joint pain for those suffering from arthritis. By protecting bone materials, mediating inflammation, and upregulating antioxidant activity, turmeric can help to relieve the pain associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis. This means turmeric supplements can do a world of good when it comes to bone and joint health.
Health Benefit 2: Anti-Inflammatory Benefits for Skin Health
For everything from helping acne to scar prevention and resolution and even anti-aging: turn to turmeric as your herb of choice for skin health. The antimicrobial properties of the turmeric root help to fend off pathogenic acne-causing bacteria. Turmeric supplements can also promote improved and expedited skin repair and reduction of skin rashes, which is especially pertinent for those suffering from psoriasis, eczema or with skin wounds, scarring, or topical tissue damage. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric accelerate wound healing and fend off blemishes and irritation, thereby helping to keep the skin spotless and radiant.
Health Benefit 3: Improved Gut Microbial Health
Turmeric exhibits a multitude of positive effects on the digestive system, beginning with its ability to help maintain a healthful microbial balance. Turmeric selectively extinguishes pathogenic bacteria like H. pylori (a pathogenic bacteria known to cause ulcers) and promotes the growth of health-supportive microbes. By keeping the gut bacteria in check and the digestive process smooth and efficient, turmeric thereby helps to decrease symptoms of gas, bloating, acid reflux, irregular bowel movements and much more. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric help to soothe ulcers and drive down the chronic inflammation and endothelial irritation characteristic of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Health Benefit 4: Benefits for Brain Health & Mental Health
Good for the body, but also the mind…
Clinical evidence indicates that supplementation with turmeric may indeed be a therapeutic option for the management of depression and/or bipolar disorder, yet another one of the health benefits of turmeric. But when it comes to brain health, turmeric’s mind-enhancing properties don’t stop there. Future research is focusing on the potential role for turmeric supplements in the treatment and prevention of degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, which we know is fundamentally an inflammatory condition. Given turmeric’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects, it may one day be considered a natural healing remedy for serious diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia that affect the brain and memory. So adding a few healthy doses of turmeric to your daily routine may indeed help keep you sharp and alert in the long run.
ANTIOXIDANT: Turmeric Is a Powerful Natural Antioxidant
Aside from its ability to regulate inflammation, perhaps one of the other top turmeric health benefits is its antioxidant potency. Turmeric helps detoxify the body by enhancing liver function and stimulating the lymphatic system, which in turn assists in removal of toxic waste.
When it comes to aging, cancer and a variety of other common Western diseases, the buildup of harmful oxidative compounds in the body is often largely to blame. These compounds, known as free radicals, are highly reactive and can adversely affect a host of important proteins in the body as well as cellular DNA. When curcumin comes into the picture, however, it has the ability to stop free radicals in their tracks. And it doesn’t stop there. The antioxidant property of curcumin is a two-fold “superpower”! Aside from squashing free radicals on its own, turmeric also stimulates the production of the body’s own antioxidant defense mechanisms.
As both an antioxidant itself and an anti-oxidant enhancer, one of the health benefits of turmeric supplements is that curcumin helps to protect against cell damage. This in turn mediates a multitude of positive effects in the body, which includes boosting the immune system, protecting the brain, and keeping the eyes and skin healthy. When it comes to anti-aging and cancer prevention, we cannot overemphasize the center-stage role that antioxidants play.
Health Benefit 5: Cancer Prevention
Since turmeric scavenges free radicals, it has the power to preferentially protect healthy cells from the DNA damage that accompanies carcinogenesis. The anti-cancer capacity of turmeric, however, is multifaceted: coupled with its defense of the body’s healthy, normal cells, turmeric also has the ability to destroy cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (aka, programmed cell death). Additionally, turmeric is able to thwart metastasis (i.e., the spread of cancer). One of the ways it does this is by halting the production of new blood vessels, (aka, angiogenesis). By starving a growing tumor of its blood supply, turmeric helps kick cancer to the curb.
Health Benefit 6: Anti-Aging
By curtailing the accumulation of harmful free radicals, turmeric protects skin cells from DNA damage. To put it simply, turmeric can act as a powerful anti-aging agent by combating wrinkles, sun damage and age-associated pigmentation. As an antioxidant, turmeric keeps your skin smooth, glowing, and utterly ageless- or so we hope!
Health Benefit 7: Strengthens Immune System
Turmeric lends a helping hand in modulation of the immune system. Particularly with regard to autoimmune disorders, the immunoregulatory effects of this medicinal herb help to keep harmful chronic inflammation at bay. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial characteristics of turmeric supercharge the body’s natural defenses and enhance immunity. Furthermore, studies show that turmeric improves white blood cell count, strength, and communication pathways, thereby giving the immune system a potent boost.
Chronic Health Conditions: Turmeric Helps Control Diabetes and Heart Disease
Health Benefit 8: Blood Sugar Control
The rate at which the incidence of diabetes and prediabetes is rising is nothing short of staggering these days. But when it comes to regulating blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity, look no further than turmeric.
By simply supplementing with curcumin and adding turmeric to some of your favorite dishes, you can do yourself– and your blood glucose levels– an incredible favor. Insulin is the hormone responsible for mediating the transport of glucose from the blood into the cells, where it is used for a wide variety of purposes. In the case of chronic uncontrolled blood sugars, insulin resistance (or a decreased sensitivity to glucose) can occur, which means glucose remains in the bloodstream and further exacerbates the situation.
But when we incorporate turmeric into the diet, bioactive curcumin plays a role in stimulating the enzyme AMPK, which then signals glucose uptake from the blood into the cells. In this way, turmeric stabilizes blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. Why does this matter? Blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity are essential for diabetes prevention (and in turn protection against heart disease and cholesterol regulation) but also for more general things like appetite control and weight stabilization. So, blood sugar regulation is one of the key turmeric health benefits and absolutely a reason to get on the turmeric train.
Health Benefit 9: Heart Health & Blood Health
Statistics demonstrate that cardiovascular disease is now one of the most fatal diseases affecting populations across the globe. If you’re looking to protect yourself against heart disease, or simply just want to keep your blood pressure in check, you may consider turning to turmeric instead of other medications such as ibuprofen or warfarin to keep your blood flow steady and healthy.
Studies suggest that curcumin supplementation can naturally protect against blood clotting and reduce blood pressure by strengthening the endothelial lining of the blood vessels. By enhancing vascular function in this way, turmeric defends the body against common conditions such as pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, atherosclerosis and hypertension, many of which are rising in incidence in this country. Widely used to combat these conditions and promote blood health by strengthening the vasculature itself, turmeric is now giving more traditional anticoagulant and antiplatelet therapies a run for their money.
AND JUST A BIT MORE…
As a medicinal herbal supplement, curcumin should be taken as directed. Both turmeric and curcumin have been shown to have very few side effects, due in part to the fact that turmeric is a naturally occurring herb. Unless you’re allergic to turmeric, or you are taking certain medications such as anticoagulants or NSAIDs (turmeric can interfere with the actions of these medications), incorporating turmeric into your cooking or curcumin into your daily supplement routine is unlikely to cause any adverse effects. In fact, turmeric in the diet has actually been shown to reduce the side effects of prescription meds, one of the many turmeric powder health benefits you should consider.
Hint hint: turmeric and black pepper work synergistically. This means that, in order to reap the majority of turmeric health benefits, turmeric or curcumin supplements should be paired with black pepper for maximum absorption. Studies show that consuming the compound with black pepper may help to increase its bioavailability (i.e., its actual healing power) as much as threefold! Additionally, choose to take your daily curcumin with a nutritious source of fat. Since the compound is fat soluble, it is best absorbed into the body along with a healthy source of dietary fat (think avocado, nuts or a fatty fish like salmon). If you’re choosing instead to go the supplement route, go for a curcumin extract. Dosages range from 1-3 grams daily – be sure to check the label and confer with your doctor or a registered dietitian for additional dosing information.
So, to sum it up, turmeric is essentially a magic potion when it comes to heart and blood health, inflammation, detoxification, cancer prevention, diabetes control, anti-aging, and brain health. The vast diversity of health benefits of turmeric are nothing short of impressive! The positive effects of supplementation with turmeric/curcumin really run the gamut, with science and clinical evidence pouring in to back up these claims. So go ahead: Do your body and your mind a solid and integrate turmeric into your life. And your soul will likely thank you some day too.
How to get more turmeric into your daily diet:
1. Try these recipes with turmeric:
2. Add Daily Turmeric Tonic to your recipes: This superfood adaptogenic blend combines the healing benefits of turmeric with other superfoods and adaptogenic herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and schisandra berry. Add a scoop to your recipes for an anti-oxidant and immune boost!
Summary of Benefits
- Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant herb with lots of healing health benefits for the entire body.
- Turmeric and its active compound curcumin can play a significant role in reducing inflammation, helping to reduce pain, anti-aging and disease prevention.
- Supplementing with turmeric can lead to reduced joint pain associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- The anti-microbial properties of turmeric help in repairing and healing the skin.
- The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric provide help in soothing ulcers and reducing inflammation in those with inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Supplementing with turmeric can improve brain health by helping in managing depression and in treating degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
- Turmeric’s antioxidant power helps to protect against cell damage, making it an important supplement in anti-aging and cancer prevention.
- The powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory power of turmeric provides a strong boost to the immune system, helping to supercharge the body’s natural defenses.
- Supplementing with turmeric can help control diabetes and heart disease by regulating blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
- Supplementing with turmeric may protect against blood clotting and in reducing blood pressure.
- Combining black pepper with turmeric helps to enhance its healing power.
Some of our Favorite Recipes with Turmeric:
1. Gupta, Subash C., et al. “Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials.” The AAPS Journal, vol. 15, no. 1, Oct. 2012, pp. 195–218., doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8.
2. Chainani-Wu, Nita. “Safety and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Curcumin: A Component of Tumeric (Curcuma longa).” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 9, no. 1, 2003, pp. 161–168., doi:10.1089/107555303321223035.
3. S, Jurenka J. “Anti-Inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research.” Altern Med Rev., vol. 14, no. 2, Sept. 2009. PubMed.
4. “10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin.” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric.
5. “Turmeric | Curcumin | Uses, Safety, Doses, and an anti-Inflammatory agent.” DrWeil.com, 10 July 2017, www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/turmeric/.
*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.
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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.