Indeed, turmeric turns the entire drug-based medical model on its head. Instead of causing far more side effects than therapeutic ones, as is the case for most patented pharmaceutical medications, turmeric possesses hundreds of potential side benefits, having been empirically demonstrated to positively modulate over 160 different physiological pathways in our bodies.
Turmeric is a bright, yellowish-green spice that grows as a root of a plant much like ginger. It is used in traditional Indian and Asian dishes and has a few powerful health benefits that you don’t want to miss out on. Besides the healing properties, it actually tastes really good, too, and people use it for cooking to entice the senses and make food more palatable.
You’ll usually be able to find this root next to the ginger root at the grocery store or you can buy it in powdered form. It’s originally from south-east India but it’s now grown in different areas. This is one of the few foods that is still good for you after it’s been heated, but new products on the market offer it raw as well. If you’ve ever seen a natural supplement called curcumin, that is actually derived from turmeric.Traditionally this root has also been used for dying clothes so just a word of warning, it does stain anything it touches including skin so be extra careful when using it for cooking or topically.
While no food or herb is right for everyone, and everything has the potential for unintended, adverse side effects, turmeric is truly unique in its exceptionally high margin of safety vis-à-vis the drugs it has been compared with, e.g. hydrocortisone, ibuprofen, chemotherapy agents, etc. Furthermore, nothing in the modern-day pharmaceutical medical chest comes even remotely close to turmeric’s 6,000-year track record of safe use in Ayurvedic medicine.
- Natural Pain Reliever - In India, turmeric is used to make a topical compress for muscle strains and injuries. Water is mixed with the ground spice to make a paste and it is covered with a cloth that is soaked in hot water. This process is utilizing the anti-inflammatory compounds of turmeric. What’s more is that turmeric has a special chemical compound called curcuminoids that are some of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. The supplement called curcumin is a more potent pain reliever because they have extracted the curcuminoids and made them into a supplement. It’s also important to note that curcumin is absorbed better by the body if you combine it with black pepper.
- Can Help Lower Risk of Cancer - Curcumin supplements are also being studied for their effectiveness on cancer. Inflammation has been known to be the beginning stages that can cause cancer and because turmeric is such a strong anti-inflammatory agent, it can really help reduce the risk of cancer. Preliminary studies done on animals are showing that curcuminoids help halt the growth of blood vessels that are in tumors which stops the spread of cancer. Studies are also showing that they help to prevent cancer as well.
- One of Nature’s Strongest Anti-Inflammatory Plants - Inflammation is known to be one of the leading causes of cancer, heart problems, and chronic pain. Chronic inflammation stresses and ages the body. When the body is inflamed, there are free radicals that steal from healthy skin cells trying to stabilize. This causes wrinkles and decreases the ability of the brain to function properly. Studies are showing curcumin to be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs that are marketed as anti-inflammatory remedies. The added benefit is that there will not be harmful side effects to consuming turmeric as other drugs that are non-organic compounds.
- Strengthens the Immune System - Besides causing aging, free radicals that are present with inflammation weaken your body’s first defense, the immune system. People are now taking curcumin and cooking with turmeric to bolster the immune system so their body can fight off colds and flus.
- Improves Cognitive Function - Believe it or not turmeric has been found to help reduce and prevent Alzheimer’s. Scientists have found that the brain needs a growth hormone to function properly and turmeric can help to increase the level of this hormone which will keep Alzheimer’s away. The growth hormone actually creates new neural pathways and connections that cannot form without it. As we age, the body may produce less of the growth hormone so a curcumin supplement can help keep your cognitive functions sharp. Other brain disorders can improve or be prevented as well with this supplement. Depression is one condition that is dependent on the chemistry of the body which is greatly influenced by the diet. If you feel down, take a look at how much processed food you’re eating and try to follow an anti-inflammatory diet that includes turmeric. If you’re experiencing extreme depression you should seek professional help.
- Helps Boost Mood - Even if you only suffer from mild depression or mood swings, turmeric can help boost your mood. The health industry is coming out with more and more drinks that include turmeric as people are beginning to realize its amazing benefits. Turmeric has been shown in scientific studies to have as powerful of an effect as Prozac in treating depression. The reason that turmeric helps boost the mood so much is that it releases the hormones in the brain that makes us feel good. These hormones are called dopamine and serotonin. When combined with regular exercise and a healthy diet, people can often heal their mind and body. These neurotransmitters respond to what we eat and that is why it’s so important to be in control and monitor the things we eat.
- Lowers Risk of Heart Disease - Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States and it can be caused by inflammation and poor blood circulation. Luckily, turmeric is a root that allows the blood to flow better by improving the health of the blood vessels. Essentially, the root will help the lining of the blood vessels and this can reduce heart attacks, blood clots, and other heart diseases. Because so many people suffer with blood pressure issues, this supplement is a great way to help lower high blood pressure and reduce hypertension.
Helps Keep the Memory Sharp - Because turmeric helps the circulation in the body and reduces inflammation, the purity of the blood will be better and the blood will be able to deliver nutrients to the body more effectively. The brain needs a healthy blood supply to keep the memory sharp and turmeric can aid in this. Curcumin supplements will be more powerful than turmeric alone for helping your memory because it is a more potent anti-inflammatory agent. Even the plaque that builds up causing Alzheimer’s is broken down by curcumins. We need to think about and study how the body works to know what to eat and what not to eat. Understanding the circulatory systems and neurological systems are an essential aspect of long term health.
There are studies that now show curcumins help prevent Alzheimer’s.
- Helps Reduce and Prevent Arthritis - Arthritis is, essentially, inflammation to an extreme degree as it causes pain in the joints and muscles. An alkaline diet can help to lower your inflammation and turmeric is a great way to bolster that diet. Turmeric, like ginger, is a healing root that will help calm the inflammation that causes joint pain. Although, the results will not be instantaneous and you need to let the supplement take effect over time. These results are already proven to be more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs that have undesirable side effects.
- Anti-Aging - Inflammation causes oxidative stress in the body which creates age spots and wrinkles. Turmeric can help you stay looking young and feeling young, too! Not that looks matter as much as what’s on the inside, but if you look healthy then chances are you’re going to be healthy on the inside and have great energy levels as well.
If you can grow ginger in your area you can grow turmeric and you really ought to give it a try. But if you want to buy a turmeric/curcumin supplement, then you can get it online or from various health food and supplement stores.
NOTE: I recommend that you find a turmeric supplement which includes bioperine (another name for piperine), which is the substance that enhances absorption of curcumin in the human body by an amazing 2000%! Without this substance, most of the curcumin just passes through your digestive tract.
Despite its vast potential for alleviating human suffering, turmeric will likely never receive the FDA stamp of approval, due to its lack of exclusivity, patentability and therefore profitability. Truth be told, the FDA’s “gold standard” for proving the value of a prospective medicinal substance betrays the age-old aphorism: “he who owns the gold makes the rules,” and unless an investor is willing to risk losing the 800+ million dollars that must be spent upfront, the FDA-required multi-phased double-blind, randomized clinical trials will not occur.
If you stop to consider the fact that turmeric grows freely on the Earth, and is thus available to all of us fairly inexpensively, well, you might just begin to understand why its very existence threatens billions of dollars in pharmaceutical industry revenue.
That is an article for another time. (But soon!)