The world has gone crazy for spices, and there is almost no dish that goes without a few of them.
And it is not only food and drinks – people now use spices to heal themselves or prevent a severe ailment, which is actually a good news if you take into consideration how many diseases go around and ‘poke’ people right in their back.
Spices have become a staple in each home, and hopefully things are getting only better. This article is based on the convenience of turmeric.
We have covered issues like dosing, uses, benefits and causes. Historical records claim that spices have been long appreciated for the flavor they give food, and some have been used also as a cure.
Most spices come packed with extraordinary health benefits, but turmeric shines brighter than others. You have probably read tons of articles on its potential use in versatile treatments.
Some say it is great for arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, psoriasis, Alzheimer’s, and others also believe it kills off abnormal cancer cells. If you are looking for more information on its abilities and powers, you are at the right spot.
Also, if you wonder whether it is enough to take turmeric only, make sure you finish reading this article. You will find out if supplementing is as essential as adding it plain to your diet.
Although they both seem the same thing (at least the same source), turmeric and curcumin are taken interchangeably. Why is this so and what makes them different? You will find every tiny bit you need to know about turmeric further in this article.
Traditional health benefits
The spice is obtained from the root of Curcuma longa, a flowering tropical plant that originates in India. For some, this plant throws out the most beautiful flowers you will ever see. Turmeric is a staple ingredient of Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that draws its historical roots in India, and this spice has been used for thousands of years.
Historical findings in Asia involving pottery shards and cooking residues reveal that turmeric had been used in cooking 4,500 years ago. It is one of the spices used in curry spice blend, an essential spicy powder in South Asian cuisine.
The spice is usually added dry, but Asians sometimes grate it fresh, same as they do with ginger. The magical spice was commonly used to aid digestion, disintegrate gallstones, relieve arthritis pain and symptoms, and alleviate allergies or cold.
Turmeric was applied topically to heal wounds and skin issues, and women liked using it as a beauty care product. Today, turmeric enriched soaps and creams are more popular than ever, and they are sold within minutes after being placed on the shelves.
Brides and grooms are still massaged with turmeric paste the day before their wedding, and this is still a tradition in some parts of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Such ‘pithi’ ceremonies are supposed to make their skin beautiful and bring them good luck.
Turmeric and curcumin
Turmeric, curcumin and even curry powder are oftentimes misinterpreted. Such mistakes are more common on the Internet, and sometimes even authoritative medical sites use them interchangeably. This is why most people cannot make a difference between these terms.
So, there is nothing left to do then clearing up this mess. Let’s start off with the least associated item. Curry powder is actually a spice blend that contains turmeric. Turmeric is the spice itself, and it contains hundreds of chemical compounds.
Each of them has great healing benefits. Curcumin is the most powerful of these all, and it is the most thoroughly examined. Curcumin is also found in ginger, another spice with great healing properties.
Unfortunately, there are many websites that could mislead you towards any unrealistic facts about turmeric. Several health websites guarantee that turmeric can be used in the treatment of 600 ailments. However, most scientific studies were based on isolated curcumin, and not turmeric.
Speaking of all the studies conducted to reveal the real power of turmeric, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health explains that, “… there is little reliable evidence to support the use of turmeric for any health condition because few clinical trials have been conducted.”
Why is this so? It is more convenient to examine an isolated and standardized compound. Curcumin acts more like a drug and spice. But the main reason is that there is a slight monetary incentive to study a spice that is an essential part of almost every kitchen worldwide, unless they manage to isolate a substance and patent it.
Proven health benefits
Most scientific studies involve curcumin, not turmeric, and it seems like there is no health issue that curcumin fails to relieve.
As proven by scientists, curcumin can relieve allergy symptoms, break up brain plagues in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, relieve arthritis pain, treat depression, control diabetes and decrease the risk of sudden heart attack. Here is the question you would probably ask.
What about turmeric? What makes it so great for you?
Turmeric contains 20 antibiotics, 14 cancer preventatives, 12 anti-tumor compounds, 12 anti-inflammatory compounds, and at least 10 compounds with strong antioxidant effect. And here is the following fact – turmeric has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and anticancer effect. Certain studies point out some of the distinctive ailments it can be used for.
Turmeric and Alzheimer’s disease
The ability of turmeric to prevent Alzheimer’s is probably one of the most astonishing benefits provided by this spice. Statistics shows that old Indians who consumed turmeric on a daily basis have the lowest risk of Alzheimer’s in the entire world.
There are more than 200 compounds found in turmeric, and there are many other than curcumin that have been examined for their effect in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Turmerone is another compound in turmeric and it has shown to stimulate the production of new neurons.
This particular compound actually enhances brain’s self-repairing ability. This makes it excellent in the treatment of an array of degenerative brain issues other than Alzheimer’s disease, including Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injuries and sudden stroke.
Turmeric and arthritis
Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions have a few things in common. Americans spend over $650 million every year on natural treatments for chronic inflammation.
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and it is considered to benefit patients with arthritis, regardless of whether it is applied orally or topically. According to the Arthritis Foundation, turmeric provides a long-term pain reduction and improved condition in patients suffering from osteoarthritis.
The recommended daily intake of turmeric for these patients is a capsule of 400-600 mg, three times a day, which would be 0.5-1.0 grams of turmeric powder. The upper limit is 3 grams per day.
Turmeric and cancer
Curcumin is considered to enhance anticancer treatments, but this requires more clinical trials. It has the ability to destroy tumor cells selectively, without harming healthy cells. It works in a synergy with chemo and radiation, and stimulates their effectiveness.
Dr Saraswati Sukumar, an oncologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has participated in many studies conducted to determine the anticancer properties of turmeric. The doctor has revealed that adding turmeric to diet is far more efficient than supplementing turmeric or curcumin.
Turmeric is more efficient than Prozac for depression Turmeric has amazing antidepressant effect. It has shown to be more powerful than fluoxetine, or Prozac.
How does it work?
Turmeric reduces cortisol levels, while increasing serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with happiness and joy. This is more than great for those who literally stuff themselves with antidepressants.
The same applies for those who have experienced severe side-effects. Unlike antidepressants, patients can use turmeric supplements indefinitely or add it to their favorite dish. Turmeric does not cause side effects when combined with other natural remedies for depression, including St.John’s wort and SAM-e.
Enhance the efficacy of turmeric naturally
Unfortunately, human body cannot absorb curcumin completely. If not consumed properly, curcumin goes right through the intestines without being used. Increase its potency by combining it with black pepper, which is the case of curry powder.
Black pepper contains piperine, a compound that enhances the absorption of curcumin by amazing 2,000%. Curcumin is fat-soluble, so its bioavailability is multiplied by cooking turmeric with oil. Tradition covers this as well. In India, people use peanut, sesame and coconut oil, and butter-derived ghee is also a common fatty ingredient.
Turmeric tea makes a nice compromise between adding turmeric to your daily menu and supplementing. Boil turmeric in water for 10 minutes to increase curcumin’s solubility up to 12 times.
Citizens in Okinawa, Japan, mark the longest lifespan, and according to statistical data, an average citizen lives 81.2 years. Guessing why? These people drink astonishing amounts of turmeric tea.
For the basic turmeric tea, all you need is stir half a teaspoon of turmeric powder into a cup of water. Simmer the liquid for 10 minutes, and your healthy tea is ready. Strain if necessary and enjoy your warm cup of tea.
Most people do not like its taste, but you may enjoy it, because we all have different criteria when it comes to tastes. Turmeric tea has quite a bitter and medicinal-tasting flavor. Experts have long experimented to design a recipe that would be both healing and tasty.
We give you a supper tasty recipe that provides maximum bioavailability. It involves heating and adding organic coconut oil, the greatest brain-healthy fat among fats.
Liquid gold turmeric tea
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp coconut oil honey or stevia (to taste)
Boil your water. Stir half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Add organic coconut milk and coconut oil. Heat well until your tea is completely warmed through. Add stevia or honey to taste.
Always use raw and organic produce to avoid undesirable chemicals and pesticides. You can experiment with the ratio of ingredients until you make the brew that works best for you.
Use almond or regular milk instead of coconut milk, and make sure it is full-fat. In India, people like using ghee, a traditional clarified butter, instead of coconut oil, as it gives their tea a rich, buttery flavor.
Turmeric sold in the dried spice section is probably the only kind of turmeric you know. However, try finding turmeric root. It is similar to ginger, which is its plant cousin.
As we already explained, ginger also contains turmeric. The University of Maryland made a Complementary and Alternative medicine Guide which lists the recommended doses for adults:
- Cut root – 1.5-3 grams per day
- Dried, powdered root – 1-3 grams per day
- Fluid extract (1:1) – 30-90 drops per day
- Turmeric tincture (1:2) – 15-30 drops, 4 times per day
The suggested doses for standardized curcumin supplement is 400-600mg, 3 times per day. Always opt for products with 95% of curcuminoids. Make sure your product contains piperine or black pepper extract added. If dosing is not your best side, just follow the instructions listed on the label of your product.
Turmeric supplement side effects
Health experts agree that using turmeric as a spice is safe. Turmeric does not show any side effects, except for the possibility to stimulate the creation of kidney stones in people who are prone to this condition.
On the other hand, turmeric supplements may cause many side effects, undesired interactions and they sure come with a warning. Turmeric and curcumin are not the same, but their side effects and reactions are considered as one by Drugs.com, Rxlist.com, and the National Institute of Health’s MedLine.
They all agreed that turmeric and curcumin supplements are not recommended for:
— Pregnant women. Curcumin stimulates the function of your uterine and increases the risk of miscarriage. There is no proof of turmeric being safe for breastfeeding moms.
— Those who try to conceive. Turmeric could only make your problem worse.
— Individuals with sensitive hormone levels. Turmeric has the same effect as estrogen, and you should avoid it if you are diagnosed with reproductive cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids.
— Patients with gallstones and gallbladder disease. Turmeric only adds to the problem.
— Those who are scheduled for surgery in 2 weeks. Turmeric thins blood and increases the risk of bleeding. Patients who take medications to affect clotting, including aspirin, clopidogrel, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, and warfarin. Turmeric raises the risk of bruising and bleeding.
— Individuals with GERD, ulcers, and other stomach issues. Turmeric worsens GERD and may trigger gastric irritation, upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea.
— People who take drugs for their stomach acid. Turmeric interferes of the effect of Zantac, Tagamet, Nexium, and stimulates the production of stomach acid.
— Diabetics. Turmeric elevates the risk of hypoglycemia. Those who suffer from iron deficiency. Turmeric stops the organism from absorbing iron.
Drugs.com lists 70 drugs with adverse interaction with turmeric and curcumin supplements. Check for the thorough list of turmeric interactions.