High on the list of popular superfoods is turmeric, which is one of the most widely used nutritional supplements in the world. There have been several studies regarding turmeric. While there is still plenty more to be evaluated, it is believed that it offers significant health benefits for both the mind and the body.
Turmeric is easy to find and very affordable. It is sold in many different forms, which include:
The use of turmeric can make getting through your day-to-day routine more easily. There are many people who will attest to how it helps improve their well-being, both physically and mentally. There are also plenty of people who will tell you that they have turned to turmeric to reduce the amount of prescription medication they take or stop taking it completely.
There are plenty of harmful toxins and free radicals in the environment we live in. Protecting your body from them requires a healthy immune system. The use of turmeric can be a powerful way to flush toxins out of the body and fight disease.
Of course, there are several variables that can play a role in how someone feels. This includes diet, exercise, stress and genetics. However, it is very encouraging when people from all walks of life and backgrounds are talking about how their lives improved when they added turmeric to their daily diet.
Many people claim that they experience the benefits of adding turmeric to their intake within a few weeks. Nevertheless, daily exercise and a good diet should be part of controlling your overall health. Also, keep in mind that taking such supplements isn’t intended to self-diagnose any psychical or mental health issues. It shouldn’t replace seeking professional advice.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a natural herb that comes from the turmeric plant. It has been commonly used as a spice in Asian food for centuries and been embraced by the West in recent decades for its health benefits. They are used in many recipes for cooking and medicinal purposes.You may already know turmeric as the main spice in curry.
Turmeric has a long history in both the Chinese and Indian cultures, and the most common locations where it grows include:
- Central America
Turmeric has been a large part of Ayurvedic medicine. It is often used for many ailments such as:
- Breathing problems
- Digestive issues
- Skin issues
The stems of turmeric plant are called rhizomes, and curcuminoids are the main bioactive constituents of the rhizome of turmeric. They are used to produce various products such as supplements, teas, or pastes for skin conditions. You may have heard turmeric referred to as Curcuma Longa of the ginger family that contains carbs, fiber and starches.
Turmeric vs. Curcumin
Turmeric is the root of a plant, scientifically known as Curcuma Longa, while curcumin is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in turmeric. Turmeric contains three active major curcuminoids, namely, curcumin as the main compound, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin, which are bioactive compounds. While turmeric contains about 2-9% curcuminoids, 75% of those curcuminoids are composed of curcumin.
While turmeric provides many health benefits for the mind and the body, it also has low bioavailability, which means that it is not easily absorbed and processed by the body. In fact, many turmeric supplements include either black pepper or piperine, which is the major active compound in black pepper.
Health Benefits Of Turmeric
There are numerous health benefits of turmeric, and that’s why it is considered to be a miracle supplement. There are plenty of studies to indicate that curcuminoids found in turmeric can reduce inflammation. Other studies indicate that it can reduce the risk of heart attacks for those who have undergone bypass surgery. For those with a mild to moderate chronic pain, using turmeric can be as effective as taking NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). For individuals fighting breast cancer, it can help reduce irritation of the skin resulting from radiation treatments. There are individuals who rely on turmeric daily to help them fight gum problems, control diabetes and colitis.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has extensively studied turmeric and recommends it for:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Colon cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Rheumatoid arthritis
With so much research regarding turmeric, it is important to identify the facts. Some of the information that you may find interesting as well as encouraging includes:
- Slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloid plaque in the brain.
- Anti-inflammatory without side effects
- Cancer prevention
- Detoxifies the liver
- Heals the skin
- Possesses properties that could exert an anticancer effect when treating breast cancer and increases the benefits of several chemotherapeutic drugs with synergistic effects when used in combination.
- Natural painkiller
- Promotes healing
- Lowers the risk of Leukemia in children
- Reduces depression symptoms
- Slows the progression of multiple sclerosis
- Alleviates skin conditions including psoriasis
- Weight management by revving up metabolism
Damage to the cells in the body and the skin occur due to the oxidative elements found in the environment. They are mainly caused by free radicals, but they are also caused by the natural aging process.
Free radicals can harm the following elements in your body:
- Fatty acids
You can rely on antioxidants to help fight free radicals and the negative effects of oxidative elements. Turmeric is a powerful compound in the fight against these problems. They can boost the amount of antioxidants in your body to fight them off. At the same time, they give your body a boost to create antioxidant enzymes. These enzymes are capable of stabilizing or deactivating free radicals before they attack cellular components in the body.
You may strive to eat right, avoid bad habits such as smoking or drinking, and get plenty of exercise. Yet that doesn’t stop free radicals entering your body as they are always in the environment we live in. Turmeric can help fight them by boosting the immune system. The powerful antioxidants found in turmeric can help protect your body by flushing free radicals out of your system.
Turmeric can also help improve the skin because it is often adversely affected by free radicals and other pollutants. Boosting the immune system allows your body to be healthier overall. It can serve as a blocker against free radicals to help prevent serious health problems.
Curcuminoids from turmeric and their derivatives have been shown to possess a wide range of biological activities including powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Inflammation is often at the core of pain, swelling and chronic ailments. It can slow down the healing process and create a great deal of pain. When turmeric is taken regularly, chronic inflammation and pain associated with it can often be reduced or controlled to some extent. The number of flare-ups can be significantly reduced. When there is a flare-up, it will not be as severe and last as long as it used to. Taking turmeric daily can help prevent these problems from returning or reduce their intensity.
There are many health problems where inflammation is an underlying factor. Some of these serious health issues include:
- Cognitive decline
- Heart disease
- Metabolic syndrome
It can take a few days to a few weeks for someone with a chronic condition to notice improvements when they add turmeric to their regiment. When the inflammation is reduced, most people find that they feel better and are able to enjoy their lives to a greater extent. While there are many over-the-counter and prescription medications to fight inflammation, they often have side effects which can be harsh on the stomach lining and the liver.
While the risk of developing arthritis increases as someone gets older, a person can have it at any age. Some children have it as well as many young adults. It can cause a great deal of pain due to the flare-ups in the joints. It can cause the joints to become deformed and make daily routine tasks very hard to complete.
Turmeric is a great aid to help with controlling arthritis. It can help reduce the pain and inflammation in the joints. As a result, a person is able to get back to enjoying his or her life and activities again. As they get older, many athletes also use it to help prevent arthritis due to the impact and physical strain inflicted by their particular sport.
The key to controlling arthritis is to identify it early on. This allows the right treatment plan to be implemented in a timely manner. Some individuals try to treat it with NSAIDs but that doesn’t fully resolve the issue of joint damage. They may need to take prescription medications. However, adding turmeric can help reduce the need to rely on prescription medication only.
For many patients, the use of turmeric has made it possible to reduce the dose of prescription medications or totally discontinue them. This is encouraging as prescription medications can be very expensive and also cause an array of harsh side effects to deal with.
One of the largest areas of study about turmeric has been regarding different types of cancer. There is encouraging information from different types of studies that the use of turmeric can help reduce the risk of cancer by boosting the immune system and generating healthy cells. For those who have been diagnosed with cancer, turmeric can help slow down the growth of cancer cells. Turmeric also plays a role by reducing the blood supply to cancer cells. This prevents them from being able to thrive or grow.
Many of the studies conducted both with humans and animals indicate that turmeric can destroy cancer cells and stop new blood vessels in tumors from growing. It can also prevent cells from multiplying and spreading to other parts of the body. This allows other forms of treatments to target cancerous cells and increase the chances of destroying them. Turmeric can be a very effective addition to the other forms of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation.
Some of these studies about cancer include are:
- Breast cancer
- Oral cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Stomach cancer
Needless to say, there are plenty of variables that can play a role in someone getting cancer. They include genetics, diet, free radicals and lifestyles. Cancer affects individuals of all ages and races from all walks of life. Indeed, just about everyone has seen someone adversely affected by cancer. The use of turmeric to help prevent cancer is a precautionary step that many people are taking.
Digestion and Gut Health
Several studies indicate that taking turmeric can help regulate overall digestion and gut health. It can help balance the good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract. Daily Intake of turmeric can significantly reduce heartburn and indigestion.
Poor gut health can cause a person to struggle with constipation or diarrhea. It can be painful and make it hard for the body to properly digest food. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis can also prevent a person from enjoying life to the fullest.
The leading cause of death in the USA for both men and women is heart disease. Finding ways to lower that risk is very important. The use of turmeric can help regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease. Of course, some individuals have a higher risk of heart disease due to genetics in spite of having good habits and a healthy diet.
It is believed that the consumption of turmeric may help protect against cardiovascular diseases by enhancing endothelial function, which refers to the ability of the inner cellular lining of the blood vessels, known as the endothelium, to properly perform its physiological functions such as in the regulation of blood pressure and in hemostasis.
Many medical professionals agree that the use of turmeric can be just as effective as the heart medication for heart disease control. Yet it is far less expensive and the patients don’t have to deal with unwanted side effects. Turmeric also helps reduce oxidation and inflammation, which both contribute to heart disease.
The brain is a powerhouse of control and information. However, when it starts to break down it can create issues for both the mind and the body. The use of turmeric can be a great aid in the battle against neurodegenerative diseases. It can help reduce inflammation and toxins in the brain.
The biggest area of research in this regard has to do with Alzheimer’s disease. The use of turmeric on a daily basis can help protect against such conditions. It can also help with:
- Mood improvement
- Reduction in mental fog
Other research suggests the use of turmeric can help support brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain. This protein performs an essential function in the survival of nerve cells (neurons) by playing a role in the growth, maturation and maintenance of these cells. This is necessary to have a healthy brain function.
Turmeric can be a valuable aid in reducing the risk and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a very common type of neurodegenerative disease, which can cause dementia in older people. Currently there is no cure available for Alzheimer’s disease, and it can be very hard for family and friends to see their loved one suffer from this disease.
Turmeric can help block the areas of the brain that allow Alzheimer’s disease to develop. Destroying the cells in the brain that are producing the amyloid plaque that may be responsible for Alzheimer’s disease would be one way to slow its progression.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are often encouraged to take turmeric to help slow down the progression of the disease. It can help them stay focused, improve their memory and mood. Some studies indicate that it can also help reduce agitation and aggressive behaviors often associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Your mental well-being is every bit important as your physical health. Getting them in balance and sync can be a struggle. There are numerous studies that indicate turmeric can help with reducing depression. It can help improve mood by boosting chemicals that induce good feelings in the brain. It can also help regulate those chemicals so your mood does not go up and down all the time.
When your body doesn’t feel well, you may have difficulty in focusing and completing daily tasks. It may seem impossible to get a good night’s sleep or enjoy your hobbies like you used to.
Not everyone can put their finger on why they are depressed and can’t just snap out of it. There are often complex underlying issues that have to do with the chemicals in the brain. The use of turmeric can boost the production of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters influence how you feel mentally.
It also helps produce more tryptophan which is an amino acid that can help stabilize one’s mood. This is important for those who seem to have spikes of up and down moods due to depression.
Types Of Turmeric Supplements
There are three types of turmeric supplements you can use. It is a personal preference. The options for turmeric supplements include:
Some people like to cook with it and others like to take it daily as a capsule along with their multi-vitamin tablets. It can also be sprinkled on food or mixed with drinks to make a delicious smoothie. There is a bit of a spicy taste to turmeric when you add it to food. Some people don’t like the way it alters the taste of their food. Others don’t mind it at all. You have to experiment to see what you like best.
How Much to Take?
There isn’t any established standard about the dose of turmeric one can take daily. The amount a person can tolerate isn’t widely known either. This can be confusing as you want to take enough of it to experience its benefits, but also you don’t want to take too much of it to avoid any possible adverse effects.
Always read the information on the label for the specific product you are using. The grams it contains will influence how much of it you should take. If there is a range, start out with the lowest amount and see how you feel. If you feel you need to increase the dosage, do so gradually to see if you see any noticeable benefits. Never exceed the recommended daily dose for any given turmeric product.
What To Shop For When Buying Turmeric
Before you rush out to buy turmeric products, you must know what to shop for. There are many turmeric products on the market. The problem is that not all of them are created equally. Keep in mind that the quality of the product can also influence its effectiveness.
Make sure you always buy turmeric products from a reputable company you can trust. Look for reviews and testimonials from customers who are using those products. Read consumer reports where they carefully evaluate such products and show how they stack up against each other. Also, look for scientific information that shares any studies on that particular product.
Some of the cheaper products can be of low quality so you need to do some research about the products you want to buy. Some of them contain large amounts of fillers which you have to avoid. Some of these fillers that can cause side effects, especially for those with gluten intolerance, include:
- Cassava starch
- Rye flour
If you use a poor quality turmeric product, it may cause more harm than good Some of them have ingredients that can be bad for the body, and they aren’t even included on the label. Individuals with gluten intolerance will find cheaply made turmeric products that contain a lot of fillers are going to be upsetting to their stomach.
A well-made turmeric product shouldn’t cause any side effects for most people. Always follow the dosing instructions on the product. If you take too much of the supplement, it can have some adverse effects.
Not all the ingredients, especially fillers, are put on the labels of turmeric products. It is a common misconception of consumers that all of that information would have to be fully disclosed on the label. This type of supplement falls through the cracks of regulations so you must be well aware of what to search for.
It is a good idea to stick with turmeric products that have certification. This means that a complete chemical analysis of what they contain has been conducted. You need to check out the credentials of certification company and verify that they are reputable.
One of the best organizations to look for when it comes to certification is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They have tighter requirements so you can feel confident any turmeric product they have put their stamp on will be of good quality.
Here is a list of the best certification providers to look for when you shop for turmeric:
- Informed Choice
- NSF International (National Sanitation Foundation)
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- US Pharmacopeial Convention
Foods To Add Turmeric
A well balanced diet is essential for your mind and body to feel good. There are many great tasting foods you can add turmeric to. It isn’t just added to spicy foods. That is a common misconception.
There are some ways to spice up what you normally eat by adding turmeric to it. Here are some great ideas for you to try:
- Add it to eggs
- Add it to rice
- Add it to soup
- Blend into a smoothie
- Make a cup of tea
- Toss it with a salad or roasted vegetables
The best health benefits when you cook with turmeric are obtained when you pair it with pepper. This is going to help the body to digest it better so you can get more out of it. Make sure you pay attention to the product information for how much to use so you don’t add too much to the dishes you make. Similarly, you don’t want to add too little as that can reduce the benefit you will get from it.
One of the important questions people ask is if turmeric is safe to use. Numerous scientific studies do indicate that turmeric is safe to use for overall better physical and mental health. However, taking it at a very high dose can cause some gastrointestinal problems for users as the body simply can’t process it at those levels.
Make sure that you fully disclose to your health care provider all the supplements you take. This includes turmeric as it may not interact well with various types of medications you use. Your doctor needs to have a full understanding of what you take on a regular basis so he or she can prescribe the right medication.
While most of the individuals who use turmeric respond to it well, but that is not always the case. The possible side effects can be attributed to using a poor quality product with lots of fillers or when someone is taking an extremely high dose of it. If you experience any of the following, you need to lower the dose of turmeric and talk to your doctor. Such side effects may include:
- Acid reflux
- Gallbladder disease
- Liver problems
Medications and Health Concerns
Individuals taking anticoagulants or antiplatelets shouldn’t use turmeric. It can increase the bleeding risk they encounter. Individuals with problems relating to gallstones or gallbladder disease shouldn’t take it as it can make the issues worse.
Your doctor will likely tell you to stop using turmeric a few weeks before various types of surgical procedures. You may also be asked to stop taking it before going through some dental procedures as well.
Other Issues to Watch Out for
Avoid any turmeric product that contains Acid Yellow 36. This is a type of food colorant often used in India and some other countries. It is illegal in Europe and the USA. It is believed this additive can cause neurological issues and certain cancers if consumed in large quantities based on animal tests.
Some turmeric products, mainly powders, contain a high level of lead. You don’t want to use those as they can be very dangerous. They can cause serious adverse reactions to the nervous system.
Paying close attention to the dose and quality of turmeric is essential if you would like to add this to your daily intake. It can prove to be a wonderful way to destroy free radicals and boost the immune system. There are plenty of studies indicating turmeric can offer plenty of health benefits and relief for various ailments. Yet each person is different and their ailments can vary. Therefore, the benefits one person gains from turmeric can vary.
There are plenty of stories from people who will tell you turmeric did more good for them than over-the-counter or prescription medications for a given ailment. Since taking turmeric isn’t harmful to the body if you take it in reasonable quantities, there is nothing to lose by giving it a try. Always use a top quality product, one that has been certified by a reputable organization.
Turmeric can easily be added to food and drinks to add flavor, color, and some zest. It can also be taken as a supplement on a daily basis. However, always talk to your doctor if you plan to include turmeric in your daily diet. Find out how much the recommend dose is and in what format you should take it.
The majority of the clinical research relating to turmeric is funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). They do encourage consumers to give it a try both for prevention and treatment. Incidentally, many medical professionals recommend the use of turmeric to their patients who have various health issues.