The unbelievable health benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the main spice in the Indian dish curry, is argued by many to be the most powerful herb on the planet at fighting and potentially reversing disease. Turmeric benefits are incredibly vast and very thoroughly researched; currently, there are over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles published proving turmeric benefits, especially one of its renowned healing compounds, curcumin. This puts turmeric on top of the list as one of the most frequently mentioned medicinal herbs in all of science.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric comes from the Curcuma longa plant, which grows in India and other Southeast Asian countries. The dried root of the Curcuma longa plant is ground into the distinctive yellow turmeric powder.
There are several chemical compounds found in turmeric, known as curcuminoids. The active substance in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is what makes turmeric a “functional food,” defined by the Mayo Clinic as “foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition.”
The best part about turmeric? Not only is it well-researched, incredibly potent and historically significant, it’s also safe. Turmeric has very few known side effects, and the ones that exist are incredibly rare and generally mild. Imagine saying that about most medications!
12 Turmeric Benefits
1. May Slow or Prevent Blood Clots
For many people, the formation of blood clots is a major concern. How do you develop a clot? Blood clots form through a process called “platelet aggregation,” where blood platelets concentrate in one area and eventually clot. In both lab and animal studies, the use of curcumin from turmeric greatly reduces instances of platelet aggregation and potentially reduces the risk of a clot forming.
2. Reduces Depression Symptoms
Although few studies have been conducted on humans, dozens of research trials have proven that turmeric benefits include being especially effective in reducing depression symptoms in laboratory animals.
The journal Phytotherapy Research published the results of an amazing, innovative study in 2014. The study took 60 volunteers diagnosed with major depressive disorder and split the group to determine how patients treated by curcumin fared against Prozac and a combination of the two.
Not only was it discovered that all patients tolerated curcumin well, but they discovered curcumin was equally effective as Prozac in managing depression by the six-week mark. Combining fluoxetine with curcumin resulted in a slightly higher improvement, but it was not considered statistically significant.
According to the authors, “This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe therapy for treatment in patients with mild depression.”
3. Fights Inflammation
Arguably, the most powerful aspect of curcumin is its ability to control inflammation.
The journal Oncogene published the results of a study that evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that aspirin and ibuprofen, two of the most common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are least effective, while curcumin is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world.
This news should have reached every household in the world after the study was conducted because inflammation is at the root of most diseases.
Increasingly common diseases today — such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, high cholesterol, and chronic pain — are all associated with inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin have also been studied as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, evidence for turmeric’s effects on Alzheimer’s patients is inconclusive; it’s not certain that turmeric can prevent or treat the disease.
4. Boosts Skin Health
Turmeric benefits include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that have proven effective in treating multiple skin conditions. Turmeric benefits for skin include increasing “glow and luster” of the skin, speeding up wound healing, calming the pores to decrease acne and acne scarring and controlling psoriasis flares.
5. May Outperform Common Arthritis Drug
Because curcumin is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing characteristics, a study was conducted on 45 rheumatoid arthritis patients to compare the benefits of curcumin in turmeric to the arthritis drug Voltaren, which put people at risk of developing leaky gut and heart disease.
The study split these volunteers into three groups: curcumin treatment alone, Voltaren alone, and a combination of the two. The results of the trial were eye-opening:
The curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvement in overall scores and these scores were significantly better than the patients in the Voltaren group. More importantly, curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate with any adverse events.
Published by Phytotherapy Research in 2012, the results of this study have encouraged more human research to evaluate the amazing effects curcumin-rich plants like turmeric have on people suffering from various different types of arthritis.
While arthritis cannot be cured, it seems that a high dose of curcumin can be just as (or more) effective than at least the most common medication prescribed for the condition.
6. Could Treat or Prevent Certain Cancers
Of all the various topics scientists have tackled in regards to curcumin and disease reversal, cancer (of various types) is one of the most thoroughly researched topics.
A number of laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin does have anticancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells.
Doctors commonly face the challenge of patients initially responding to chemotherapeutic drugs and then later developing resistance. Curcumin appears to re-sensitize these patients’ cancer cells to the drugs, although the exact mechanisms of curcumin’s chemo-sensitization remain ambiguous.
Food-based botanicals have the potential to restore a healthier gene expression in patients but without the toxicity of certain drugs.
The bottom line? Turmeric benefits include helping the body naturally treat cancer such as breast cancer, colon cancer and skin cancer. It may also help with chemotherapy resistance in patients with PDAC.
7. May Help Manage Diabetes
In 2009, Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications published a lab study out of Auburn University that explored the potential of curcuminoids to lower glucose levels. The study discovered that curcumin in turmeric is literally 400 times more potent than metformin (a common diabetes drug) in activating the enzyme AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase). One compound produced by fermentation of curcumin activated AMPK up to 100,000 times more than metformin in certain cells.
AMPK activation is considered by researchers to be a “therapeutic target” for type 2 diabetes, meaning that figuring out how to activate this enzyme has major potential for developing more effective treatments for reducing insulin resistance and reversing diabetes.
Other mechanisms by which turmeric may effectively reduce or reverse diabetes symptoms is related to its anti-inflammatory action. Multiple meta-analyses have confirmed that curcumin from turmeric significantly lower inflammatory markers which are associated with diabetes.
One of the most common complications of diabetes is damage to nerves known as diabetic neuropathy, which takes several forms and can cause serious symptoms throughout the body from muscle weakness to blindness. A study in rats found that supplementing with curcumin significantly reduced diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain (typically localized to feet, legs, arms, and hands).
Diabetic neuropathy can also lead to kidney failure. A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials confirmed that, in animals, curcumin protects the kidneys of diabetic subjects from the damage of diabetic nephropathy.
8. Combats Obesity
A study published in the journal Biofactors showed that curcumin may help reduce proliferation (growth) of fat cells, based on lab results. The researchers found that the anti-inflammatory properties in curcumin were effective at suppressing the inflammatory processes of obesity, therefore helping to reduce obesity and its “adverse health effects.”
9. Supports Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
An in-depth analysis of all the studies evaluating curcumin’s ability to manage ulcerative colitis (UC) found that one very well-designed trial tested curcumin plus mesalazine (the typical NSAID prescribed for this condition) against placebo plus mesalazine. Patients taking only placebo and mesalazine were over four times more likely to experience a relapse or flare-up of ulcerative colitis during the six months of the study, suggesting that turmeric benefits may include helping to maintain remission of this chronic disease.
For many patients with inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, anti-inflammatory drugs reduce pain symptoms but damage the intestinal lining over time, actually making the condition worse. That’s why these medications can’t be used long-term and are only meant to initiate remission.
However, supplementing with curcumin did not have these side effects in either above study and, because of its anti-inflammatory properties, likely helped heal the gut and support the growth of good bacteria (probiotics).
10. May Regulate Cholesterol
One of the reasons heart disease is such a problem in the U.S. is that people are developing pre-diabetes (high blood sugar) at an alarming rate.
In turn, diabetics and non-diabetics alike are suffering from oxidative stress, which damages the inside of blood vessels. Because of this damage to the arteries, cholesterol begins to build up plaque to patch up the damaged areas, which leads to high levels of cholesterol.
Traditionally, statin drugs used to manage cholesterol (like Lipitor) are widely known to harm the kidneys and liver and cause a number of deadly side effects. They do bring cholesterol down, but they never address the actual cause, which is oxidative stress caused by high blood sugar levels and inflammation.
Thankfully, medical doctors are becoming more and more aware of the dangerous side effects of statin drugs and prescribing natural alternatives like curcumin and fish oil instead.
11. Works as a Natural Pain Reliever
One of the more widely accepted properties of curcumin in scientific communities is its ability to manage pain.
In early 2014, the European Journal of Pharmacology published research that discovered curcumin naturally activates the opioid system in diabetic rats. Typically manipulated by drugs, this natural process serves as the body’s inherent pain-relieving response.
It’s not just diabetic pain that curcumin from turmeric benefits, though. Other breakthrough studies and reviews (some in animals, others in humans) have found that curcumin may be beneficial for:
- Wound healing
- Burn pain
- Post-operative pain
- Inflammation-induced arthritic pain
- Neuropathic pain caused by constriction injury
- Orofacial pain (pertaining to mouth, jaws, and face, most commonly related to dental issues)
- Sciatic nerve pain from chronic constrictive injury
- Arthritis/joint pain
Interestingly, the brain-balancing impact of curcumin may even help reduce pain-induced depression. A 2011 study in animals found that a high dose of curcumin relieved the subjects of depressive behavioral issues related to pain.
These results suggest that turmeric is definitely on a short list of potent natural painkillers.
12. Aids in Detoxification
An important benefit of turmeric is its ability to detoxify the body. Every day, you are likely exposed to environmental and dietary toxins known as xenobiotics. These chemical substances and not generally present in the human body and are often associated with increased amounts of inflammation and a higher risk of cancer.
Most detoxification of xenobiotics takes place within the liver in two phases: Phase I and Phase II. However, many people, particularly in the Western world, are so overexposed to these toxins that the liver is strained to the point of functioning at less-than-optimum levels. Several plant foods seem to aid the body in maintaining its natural detoxification rhythms and help the liver to operate correctly, and turmeric is one of the major players. Other common detoxifying plant foods include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli sprouts, kale, and many more), garlic, onions, and citrus peel.
It seems that consumption of turmeric and its active compound, curcumin, can help the liver efficiently detoxify the body and alleviate some of the effects of dangerous carcinogens. This process operates in tandem with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions of turmeric.
Final Thoughts on Turmeric Benefits
Turmeric herb is one of the top nutrients in the world. There’s a reason it’s been used throughout history by some of the most effective healthcare providers in the world.
Twelve of the best turmeric benefits include:
- May slow or prevent blood clots
- Reduces depression symptoms
- Fights inflammation
- Boosts skin health
- May outperform common arthritis drug
- Could treat or prevent certain cancers
- May help manage diabetes
- Combats obesity
- Supports management of inflammatory bowel disease
- May regulate cholesterol
- May work as a natural pain reliever
- Aids in detoxification
Practitioners in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda have been prescribing turmeric for centuries, knowing the power of turmeric benefits. Over 10,000 peer-reviewed studies exist examining its effectiveness for a huge number of issues. All these thanks to all the wonderful turmeric benefits.
Turmeric side effects are rare and mostly limited. Pregnant women should not take turmeric. It may induce uterine contractions, but most others should be able to safely take recommended doses. Pay attention to any possible side effects and discuss them with your naturopath or integrative practitioner.
Although using turmeric frequently in your cooking is a great way to take advantage of the spice (particularly with healthy fats and black pepper), turmeric only contains about three percent absorbable curcumin in the powdered form used in food. You want to consider taking it in our essential oil form that contains up to 95 percent curcuminoids. You can cook with it if you like and take it internally by putting 2 drops in a vegetable capsule daily.
Ready to get your bottle of the highest quality of Turmeric essential oil? Click here to get it right now!
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