What is Turmeric?
Turmeric, or Curcuma longa, is an ancient spice popular in India and Asia as far back as 2,000 BC. The spice belongs in the ginger family and has been highly prized in the culinary traditions of these cultures. Turmeric imparts a vibrant yellowish hue to curry dishes, and the spice is also used as a natural dyeing agent for cloths. In Persia, turmeric comes from the word saffron and is closely related to the spice.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Prevents Cancer: Turmeric can help prevent prostate cancer, stop the growth of existing prostate cancer and even destroy cancer cells. Multiple researchers have found that the active components in turmeric makes it one of the best protectors against radiation-induced tumors. It also has a preventive effect against tumor cells such as T-cell leukemia, colon carcinomas and breast carcinomas.
Combats inflammatory diseases: Turmeric’s natural anti-inflammatory qualities mean it may work as well as some anti-inflammatory medications, without the side effects. Early research shows it may help with inflammation of the eye (uveitis), inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis) and multiple sclerosis.
One study, using a formula which contained turmeric, showed it reduced the pain and disability associated with osteoarthritis, but it hasn’t been studied on its own yet.
Fights colds and flu: Preliminary studies show that turmeric may help reduce the severity of bacterial and viral infections.
Helps indigestion and weight loss: Curcumin stimulates the gallbladder and produces bile. Because bile helps digest fat, experts believe this improves digestion and may help control weight. At least one study found it treats indigestion, reducing symptoms of bloating and gas.
Controls Diabetes: Turmeric can be used in the treatment of diabetes by helping to moderate insulin levels. It also improves glucose control and increases the effect of medications used to treat diabetes. Another significant benefit is turmeric’s effectiveness in helping reduce insulin resistance, which may prevent the onset of Type-2 diabetes. However, when combined with strong medications, turmeric can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It is best to consult a healthcare professional before taking turmeric capsules.
Heals Wound: Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used as an effective disinfectant. If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process. Turmeric also helps repair damaged skin and may be used to treat psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Relieves Arthritis: The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric are great for treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, turmeric’s antioxidant property destroys free radicals in the body that damage body cells. It has been found that those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who consume turmeric on a regular basis experience much relief from the moderate to mild joint pains as well as joint inflammation.
Reduces Cholesterol Level: Research has proven that simply using turmeric as a food seasoning can reduce serum cholesterol levels. It is a known fact that high cholesterol can lead to other serious health problems. Maintaining a proper cholesterol level can prevent many cardiovascular diseases.
Immunity Booster: Turmeric contains a substance known as lipopolysaccharide, which helps stimulate the body’s immune system. Its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents also help strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system lessens the chance of suffering from colds, flu and coughs. If you do get a cold, a cough or the flu, you can feel better sooner by mixing one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk and drinking it once daily.
Uses of Turmeric
- In food and manufacturing, the essential oil of turmeric is used in perfumes, and its resin is used as a flavor and color component in foods.
- Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, bypass surgery, hemorrhage, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disorders, high cholesterol, a skin condition called lichen planus, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, and fatigue.
- It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, itchy skin, recovery after surgery, and cancers. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, swelling in the middle layer of the eye (anterior uveitis), diabetes, water retention, worms, an autoimmune disease called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), tuberculosis, urinary bladder inflammation, and kidney problems.
- Some people apply turmeric to the skin for pain, ringworm, sprains and swellings, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, acne, inflammatory skin conditions and skin sores, soreness inside of the mouth, infected wounds, and gum disease.
- Turmeric is also used as an enema for people with inflammatory bowel disease.