For hundreds of years people have used spices as taste enhancements and as medicine since they have many health benefits. Such spice is turmeric, today best known for its effectiveness in treating diabetes, arthritis, psoriasis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and cancer. It comes from the roots of Curcuma Longa and its remnants have been found in pottery shards dated 4.500 years ago!
This potent spice has the ability to treat skin diseases and wounds when applied directly to the skin affected. It can also treat colds, arthritis, allergies, digestive issues and gallstones. In some parts of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, people apply turmeric paste on the faces of the bride and groom in marriage ceremonies as a symbol of good luck. It has also been used as a beauty product to enhance ones beauty. Even today, turmeric soaps and creams are being made and their popularity is rising.
Many people mistaken curcumin, turmeric and curry powder to be the same thing. First of all, curry powder is made up of turmeric mixed with various other spices. Secondly, Curucmin is a compound found in turmeric and ginger. However, it must be noted the focus of many of the research was done, not on turmeric, but curcumin. This powerful compound reduces allergies and arthritic paints, control diabetes, lower heart attack risks, cure depression and break up brain plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.
But since turmeric is a household item, it can’t be patented to guarantee monetary returns to the research companies, hence the lack of clear cut scientific research upon turmeric. Even though there is a lack of scientific evidence in the efficacy of turmeric, it has been shown that turmeric is still an amazing spice.
What makes turmeric such a powerful anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial remedy is its ingredients such as 10 types of antioxidants, more than 20 antibiotic compounds, 14 known cancer preventatives 12 anti-tumor properties and 12 anti-inflammatories.
The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric are effective in dealing with arthritis. It promotes a long-term improvement in pain and function. It is recommended that one capsule (400-600 mg) be taken, three times a day. In the absence of turmeric supplements, 0.5 – 1.0 gram up to 3 grams of powdered turmeric roots ingested can also help.
The reason why India has the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s cases is, you guessed it, their great intake of turmeric! There are more than 200 ingredients in the turmeric being studied, which can actually prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. Also, turmeric contains turmerone which promotes the production of new neurons, so this spice can also be used to treat Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury and stroke.
Turmeric allows enhancing the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, which will only destroy the affected tumor cells more efficiently. It is advised by Dr. Saraswati Sukumar, the medical oncologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, to take the spice when prepared in food because that is how anticancer effect is enhanced rather than as a plain supplement.
Turmeric is also a great substitute for the anti-depressant meds that cause many side effects. Turmeric naturally lowers the cortisol (stress hormone) and raises the levels of serotonine which is responsible for our happiness. It is even more powerful than Fluoxetine (the generic name for the med, Prozac).
It is advisable to consume turmeric with black pepper. We don’t absorb curucmin well, and the piperine, compound which is an ingredient in black pepper, increases the curcumin absorption by 2,000%! Also, cooking turmeric with oil will improve its bioavailability in our body. This is why Indian cuisines use sesame, coconut, peanut oil or butter-derived ghee when cooking foods with turmeric!
Another great way to increase the solubility of curcumin is by boiling turmeric in water for 10 minutes. It’s been known that the inhabitants in Okinawa, Japan, who drink a large amount of this tea, have some of the longest lifespan in the world, averaging in at about 81.2 years. To make a turmeric tea, add half a teaspoon into a cup of water. Its taste might be unpleasant, so you can use uses coconut oil, which will also increases the bioavailability of curcumin.
To prepare the liquid gold turmeric tea, you will need: half teaspoon of turmeric powder, one tablespoon of coconut oil, half cup of water, half cup of coconut milk (almond or regular milk can also be used) and honey or stevia (amount varies by the person). Add the turmeric powder into boiled water and let it gently simmer for 10 minutes,then add coconut milk and coconut oil, heat the tea until it is warmed. Lastly, add honey or stevia according to your taste.
For an enhanced buttery taste, substitute coconut oil with clarified Indian butter ghee. You can also experiment with the proportions of the ingredients. For the powder supplement, it is recommended that 400-600mg be consumed, 3 times/day. Ensure that these products have 95% curcuminoids, black pepper extract or piperine.
There are other ways to consume turmeric such as in a form of dried, powdered root: 1-3 grams/day; fluid extract (1:1): 30-90 drops/day; cut root: 1.5-3 grams/day; tincture (1:2): 15-30 drops, 4 times/day.
It is important to note that people who suffer from kidney stones or a prone to them should lower the intake of turmeric since it might cause forming of new kidney stones.
Websites like National Institutes of Health’s MedLine, and RXlist.com., agree that there are certain times when Turmeric or Curcumin supplements should not be ingested, such as:
- Trouble conceiving a child
- Iron deficiency; turmeric inhibits the absorption of iron
- Presence of gallstones, or gallbladder diseases
- Pregnancy. The trigger of curcumin upon the uterus may increase the risk of miscarriage
- Hormone sensitive conditions: endometriosis, reproductive cancer, or fibroids of the uterus. Turmeric can act as an estrogen.
- Turmeric may worsen GERD, ulcers, and other stomach problems
- Turmeric may inhibit the actions of Tagamet, Zantac and Nexium, which is used to reduce stomach acid. Turmeric is known to increase stomach acid production
- Diabetes: Turmeric can increase the risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
- Impending surgeries within two weeks. Turmeric can raise the risk of bleeding.
- Turmeric supplements should not be ingested by persons taking diclofenac, aspirin, ibuprofen, clopidgrel, naproxen and warfarin, turmeric raises the risk of bleeding and bruising.