Can turmeric improve your health?

When it comes to the medical benefits of herbs and spices, few, if any, have attracted as much attention as turmeric.

Thousands of articles have been published in recent years discussing turmeric’s purported benefits. And the research goes on.

The Arthritis Foundation in the US says recent studies have shown turmeric can prevent joint inflammation but is less likely to reduce joint inflammation. That may seem a subtle difference, but in medical issues, timing can be everything.

But before investigating whether to take turmeric now or later, let’s look at its long and distinguished history.

Turmeric’s medical benefits were first recorded nearly 4000 years ago in south-east Asia where it was being used in cooking and in religious ceremonies – largely because of its vibrant yellow colour.

Related to the ginger family, it grows to a metre tall and has long, oblong leaves. The rhizomes under the soil can be used fresh or dried to produce a yellow powder. The leaves are commonly used in some cultures to wrap and cook fish. And turmeric tea and coffee are common drinks.

The active compound in turmeric is curcumin, which makes up between two and six per cent of turmeric.

Curcumin, and turmeric for that matter, in heavy dosages need to be closely monitored. People on blood-thinning tablets may experience stomach issues, while pregnant women or patients about to undergo surgery should avoid it, health professionals says.

So what do we know about turmeric’s benefits?

Healthline says turmeric may well be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence and cites 10 evidence-based benefits. These include:

  • powerful anti-inflammatory effects
  •  a strong antioxidant
  • linked to improved brain function
  • lowers the risk of heart disease
  • helps prevent, and even treat, cancer
  • useful in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease
  • helps reduce pain from arthritis
  • can help fight depression
  • helps fight age-related conditions
  • reduces blood pressure.

According to www.liverscience.com, an experiment involving rats showed that curcumin can ease joint swelling from rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers gave rats turmeric extracts before and after inducing rheumatoid arthritis in the animals. Some extracts contained only curcuminoids, the family of chemicals that include curcumin, while other extracts contained curcuminoids and other compounds.

The study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Natural Products, found that pure curcuminoid extracts were more effective in treating rheumatoid-arthritis symptoms, and that curcuminoids worked better in preventing new joint swelling than in treating existing swelling.

Recommended daily dosages range between 500 to 1000 milligrams of curcuminoids. If you’re restricting yourself to turmeric tablets, and not curcumin supplements, then simply follow the directions on the bottle or discuss with a health professional.

In cooking, fresh or powdered turmeric can be added to all good curries, while turmeric powder can also be added to smoothies, but the warning with all of this is that very little extensive research has been conducted on the long-term effects.

Do you take turmeric or curcumin supplements? For what reason?

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Perko

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