A herb of the ginger family Zingiberaceae, Turmeric is native to Southeast Asia where the required 20 to 30 degree Celcius temperatures and considerable rainfall can be found. They follow an annual cycle of harvesting and propagation of its rhizomes. While occasionally used fresh, they are occasionally dried out then ground into its distinct deep orange-yellow powder. This is then used as coloring and flavoring for many different Asian cuisines—Indian dishes and curries, in particular. It has a very earthy and mustard aroma with bitter, pepper-like flavor.
In terms of medicinal value, it is most powerfully associated with Ayurvedic medicine. Again rooted in India, this is one of the more popular forms of alternative medicine in the world. It’s so popular that its principles are incorporated into general wellness programs and applications. Turmeric in this case is normally used to treat tummy aches, oral infections, liver problems, and the common cold. It can also clean wounds and even treat topical sores of different degrees of infection. Practitioners swear by these many different benefits. In modern times, however, there are many more.
Here are the modern advantages.
The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin—of which the content is around 3% by weight. This has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is also a know potent antioxidant. The effects of these properties have been observed in dosages exceeding 1 gram per day. Using the spice simply in your food will not get you this necessary benefit. To truly experience these effects, you should take an extract that contains a much higher concentration of turmeric. Additionally, it helps to consume black pepper along with turmeric. Pipering, a main component of black pepper enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000 percent.
By and large, inflammation is great for your body and is highly important. Inflammation means that your body is fighting foreign invaders and is actively repairing any harm done to your body. Without it, pathogens would wreak havoc on you and your body—eventually killing you. Extended periods of inflammation can be a chronic and even eventually attack your own body. This has shown to be a major proponent for heart disease, cancers, metabolic problems, and even Alzheimer’s. Curcumin, in the right doses, is so powerful that it can match the effectiveness of many over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs. The key is getting the dosage right.
The main reason you age and acquire harmful degenerative diseases is because of free radical oxidation. These free radicals are highly reactive molecules that interact negatively with organic substances like fatty acids, proteins, and even DNA. Antioxidants, as the name implies, protect our body against free radicals. The chemical structure of curcumin is what enables it to neutralize free radicals. Additionally, curcumin also boosts the body’s own natural antioxidant enzymes. So, not only does curcumin from turmeric block free radicals directly, they also stimulate the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms naturally.
Brain diseases happen when neurons in the brain stop creating new connections or even stop multiplying and increasing in number. These processes are driven by Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF)—a hormone that functions in the brain. Depression and Alzheimer’s disease are due to decreases levels of this hormone—which is something that happens over time. Again, it has been found that curcumin in turmeric actively increases the brain levels of BDNF. A higher intake of turmeric concentrate or extract can therefore help improve your memory and even aid in making you smarter. When your brain is healthy and well-maintained, it can decrease risk of degenerative brain diseases.
Globally, heart disease kills more people than any other. Research has been done on it for decades and it has been found that the disease is incredibly complicated—there are various contributory factors that need to be accounted for. Curcumin from turmeric serves to improve the function of the blood vessel linings. This ensures that blood flows smoothly and regularly and performs essential, crucial functions of blood pressure regulation, clotting, among others. This benefit is especially potent when combined with a proper, consistent exercise regimen. Studies conducted on sufferers of heart disease have found that curcumin reduces the risk of heart attack by 65 percent.
This neurodegenerative disease is one of the most common in the world and, sadly, does not have any real available treatment as yet. That’s why it is critical to focus a great deal on prevention to begin with. Because of its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, curcumin from turmeric is one effective option in prevention. That is because of the aforementioned effect of curcumin on inflammation and oxidative damage. Additionally, curcumin helps clear protein tangles called Amyloid plaques that are a key feature in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This will depend, naturally, on the amount of curcumin taken in so it is best to focus on extracts.
It can’t be denied that turmeric and its component curcumin has several positive effects on the human body—particularly with those pertaining to the brain and anti-inflammatory processes. However, it isn’t enough to simply take it in as a spice in foods. The better way to maximize your intake is to get supplements/tablets that concentrate the amount of curcumin taken in. Make sure to check if there’s some biopering or piperine mixed in so the curcumin is more effectively absorbed by your body.