Turmeric is one rare spice with promising potential of multiple health benefits and subject of interest in research and development. There are many health claim of turmeric but not all are supported by well designed research. We have listed only those health benefits of turmeric or curcumin that are supported by well designed studies and promising in health beneficial effects. In near future more research and development on turmeric is expected to come.
Turmeric (curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of ginger family. It is widely used in India and South East Asia. Curcumin is the yellow dye of turmeric and the most active compound of turmeric. When we discuss about turmeric we basically discuss about curcumin. It has powerful herbal medicinal properties and claiming multiple health benefits. So, let’s dig..
8 Proven surprising health benefits of turmeric or curcumin:
Chronic inflammation is a killer condition that damages tissues leading to long list of chronic diseases. Curcumin has powerful anti inflammatory profile thus helps to lower inflammation in your body as well as the risk of chronic inflammatory disease. You can read about inflammation here.
Fight free radical damage of cells and prevent early aging and age related disorder
Curcumin has strong antioxidant properties and protects your cells, tissues, organs from free radical damage by enhancing antioxidant capacity. In our previous article we have written about how free radicals damage your tissues leading to numerous diseases and premature aging.
Individual exposed to arsenic in water can find turmeric as helpful preventive measure against adverse effects of arsenic. A study done in a chronically arsenic-exposed population of West Bengal, India reveals that curcumin piperine combination (20:1 ratio) when taken orally with a daily intake of 500mg of curcumin twice in day helps to prevent DNA damage to peoples who are exposed to arsenic in drinking water.(1)
Curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent and thus it possibly capable of preventing early aging and age related disorder and improve health status when you take in a proper way .(2)
Improve cardio health and vascular function
Curcumin raises HDL cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and triglyceride in moderate way. Hence improves vascular health.
Nitric oxide plays a very important rule in vascular health which improves circulation of blood in blood vessel. Oral ingestion of curcumin when prepared with lipid or fat increases serum nitric oxide considerably and thus lowers risk of heart disease and improves vascular health. (3)We have also written about 9 proven ways to lower risk of heart attack.
Lower joint pain
Curcumin is a natural painkiller. Curcumin helps to lower joint pain, knee pain, symptoms of osteoarthritis and other pain and improve joint mobility naturally.(4, 5, 6)
Curcumin has anti inflammatory and antineoplastic effects and appears in reducing risk of colon or bowl cancer.(7)
Curcumin has also promising effects in prevention against cancers including gastrointestinal, genitourinary, gynecological, hematological, pulmonary, thymic, brain, breast, and bone. Gradual alteration of regulatory proteins is the root cause of cancers. Curcumin modulates regulatory proteins through various molecular mechanisms and thus help in preventing cancers.(8)
However more development are required in this field.
Prevent type 2 diabetes
A double blinded study published in Diabetes Care reveals that daily intake of curcumin with people with type 2 diabetes, prevent occurrence of diabetes when they were continuing in that period.(9)
Lower depression and anxiety
Curcumin has beneficial effects in moderating hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis disturbances, lowering inflammation and protecting against oxidative stress, mitochondrial damage, neuroprogression and intestinal hyperpermeability. Those factors are related to major depressive disorder. Thus these potentials of curcumin summarize as it has beneficial effects in lowering depression and anxiety. (10, 11, 12)
Curcumin is also seems to have beneficial effect with its anti inflammatory properties in prevention of Alzhemir’s disease but powerful evidence yet to come. Along with other factors Alzheimer’s disease involves beta amyloid accumulation. Curcumin blocks aggregation of beta amyloid protein in brain and prevent neural inflammation and thus has promising effect in preventing Alzhemir’s disease. (13)
Protect your liver
Variety of agents, including alcohol, drugs, viral infections, environmental pollutants and dietary components creates inflammation and oxidative stress on the liver. And such condition results results in progression of liver injury, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, non-alcoholic liver disease, liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Curcumin has powerful antioxidant, free radical scavenger profile and gives protection your liver from proinflammatory cytokines, reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress induced cell damage. (14)
Take home message
Curcumin has multiple health beneficial effects-it is very pleasant to hear. But your body should absorb it properly. Curcumin is a bad absorbent in intestine. For that reason you will miss the benefits if you not prepare it in proper way. Black pepper or pepperine works as an enhancer in absorption of curcumin. So you have to add black pepper or pepperine with curcumin at around 20:1 proportion to make absorb curcumin in your body.(curcumin: pepperine=20:1). Curcumin is degraded when heated and combine with food with alkaline ash. Normally fruits and vegetables have alkaline ash. You should avoid mixing curcumin with fruit and vegetable with alkaline ash. Curcumin has fat soluble property, that’s why you should add little amount of fat with curcumin for processing it in your GI tract. These are the basic requirement for preparation of turmeric. You can also read home preparation of turmeric golden milk.
Percentage of curcumin varies with turmeric depending upon types, cultivation area and some other factors. Thus it is difficult to say how much percentage of curcumin is available with a particular amount of turmeric. On average pure turmeric powder contains curcumin around 3% by weight. Turmeric root contains moisture with it.
In usual a daily dose of curcumin of about 400mg to 600mg up to three times in a day for adult which is within 2g in a day is considered as safer dose.
You can also read about therapeutic daily dosage of curcumin for health alignments here.
A line of caution:
Turmeric is usually safe when taken orally, however there are some considerations of taking turmeric. Don’t use turmeric if you have gallstone or gall bladder problem. Turmeric may slower blood clotting and it may increase bleeding in people with bleeding disorder. And for this reason you should stop taking turmeric at least two weeks before if you proceed for surgery. Higher dosage of curcumin has a negative effect in iron absorption only when iron intake is low. As usual pregnant woman or people with specific health condition should consult with health care provider first as due to medicinal value of curcumin. Also due to high soluble oxalate content of turmeric powder people with tendency of developing kidney stone should avoid turmeric. Apart from that individual with unhealthy gut or increased intestinal permeability should avoid food with high oxalates more specifically soluble oxalate.(15) As curcumin has herbal medicinal properties, and so you should consider over dose or long term term supplementation only with guidance of healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for educational purpose only, not intended to provide one to one health consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different people may have different health condition and may have different reaction to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care provider before application of any of above guidelines. Sources and references:
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