You may have heard of the name turmeric or you may not, but you’ll definitely know it as the spice which makes curry yellow! It comes from the root of a plant, and has been used in traditional healing practices for hundreds of years. It is particularly prominent in Chinese and Indian medicine.
Whilst the modern world is only just discovering the potential benefits of this spice, there’s a reason why it has been used so frequently by other cultures; it really is a powerful and potent supplement that is truly beneficial to the body.
There have now been more than 6000 peer-reviewed studies and analyses that are slowly exploring and verifying the effects of turmeric on the body. Thanks to compounds found within the turmeric extract which have medicinal properties, like curcumin, it has the potential to complement traditional treatments and generally boost our health if we add it to our diets.
Why turmeric is good for your body
With thousands of studies conducted, turmeric has been shown to have a huge number of effects on our body; these are just some of the most investigated and biggest benefits:
- It’s anti-inflammatory
This means it’s effective at curbing heartburn and indigestion with the natural anti-inflammatory properties found in the plant. It can also fight chronic inflammation at the molecular level, according to recent research, which can prevent a number of long-term conditions and diseases developing. The anti-inflammatory effects also help to reduce skin irritations, blemishes and acne.
- It can fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks
The curcumin compound found in the plant is also an antioxidant; one study has shown how it can reduce the risk of heart attacks, especially in those recovering from a bypass, by up to 65%. It targets those troublesome free radicals we hear so much about by blocking them in the bloodstream, but also stimulates our body’s own antioxidant protections to help ward off heart disease.
- It can delay the onset of diabetes
By lowering the blood glucose levels, turmeric has also been shown to delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Other studies have shown how it can relieve symptoms in sufferers by reversing insulin resistance too.
- It might be able to fight cancer
Very early trials found compounds in turmeric affect the molecular pathways that form in the development and growth of cancerous cells. Curcumin reduces the growth of new blood vessels in tumours (called angiogenesis) and stops the spread of cancer in the body (metastasis).
It could also kill cancer cells and shrink tumours, and help boost the effects of chemotherapy, but more human trials are required here. It is possible it can reduce the chance of cancer developing, especially those found in the digestive system.
- It boosts brain health
Ar-turmerone is another compound in turmeric, and studies found it helps stem cells in the brain repair themselves. It could therefore help those recovering from a stroke or suffering from Alzheimer’s to re-develop pathways in their brain. Other studies have shown it helps improve the overall memory of Alzheimer patients, and may also be able to help boost the memory and cognitive function of healthy patients. It might just make you smarter!
- It relieves joint point
Recent trials found that turmeric works just as well as ibuprofen in those with knee osteoarthritis. Curcumin can also reduce the inflammatory markers associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis, according to another study, and could prevent RA from developing in the first place.
- It can fight depression
We’ve already seen how curcumin can be beneficial to the brain, and another trial found that it’s comparable with prozac when used to treat depression. It works as an antidepressant, probably because it boosts brain levels and helps release feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine.
How to get more turmeric
Fighting all these diseases and conditions means that turmeric is a beneficial addition to your vitamin and mineral intake in the long run; it’s now considered to be one of the most powerful and popular anti-ageing supplements that can promote longevity and a healthy lifestyle.
To get the full benefits of turmeric, you should be looking for a supplement that contains an extract with significant amounts of curcumin in it. Turmeric spice out of a jar only contains around 3% curcumin and this may not be enough for some people, when compared with the percentage in an extract supplement.
But it’s likely to still help, especially in prevention! So wherever you can, add turmeric to food; it goes well with loads of recipes, and you can even drink it with your tea.