Turmeric, sometimes called Indian saffron or the golden spice, is a tall plant that grows in Asia and Central America.
Turmeric comes from the turmeric plant and is used as a spice. It's a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Turmeric is most likely best known as the key spice in curry. It is commonly used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butter, and cheeses, and has a warm, bitter taste.
Turmeric root, on the other hand, is commonly used in medicine. It contains curcumin, a yellow-colored chemical that is often used to color foods and cosmetics.
Curcumin is a chemical contained in turmeric. Turmeric's curcumin and other chemicals can help to reduce swelling (inflammation). As a result, turmeric may be useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions.
Turmeric is widely used to treat pain and inflammation in conditions like osteoarthritis.
Hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, a form of liver disease, and itching are among the conditions for which it is prescribed.
One of turmeric’s main claims to fame is that it’s commonly used to fight inflammation, and the bulk of turmeric’s inflammation-fighting powers can be credited to curcumin. In fact, in the right dose, curcumin may be a more effective anti-inflammatory treatment than common inflammation-fighting medications such as Advil (ibuprofen) and aspirin, according to a past study.
As chronic inflammation contributes to many chronic diseases, curcumin may help treat conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and arthritis. We’ll get into some of those specific benefits later.
Thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin may be a safe and effective long-term treatment option for people with osteoarthritis (OA). In a past study, people with osteoarthritis who took 1,000 mg/day of Meriva experienced significant improvements in stiffness and physical function after eight months, whereas the control group saw no improvements. Meriva is a proprietary treatment made up of a natural curcuminoid mixture (75 percent curcumin; 15 percent demethoxycurcumin; and 10 percent bisdemethoxycurcumin), phosphatidylcholine (a chemical found in eggs, soybeans, and other foods), and microcrystalline cellulose (a refined wood pulp commonly used by the pharmaceutical and food industries).
And a study in mice published in the June 2016 issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy found that 50 mg of oral curcumin per kilogram (kg) body weight significantly slowed the progression of OA, whereas a topical curcumin treatment provided pain relief. That said, whether these benefits would apply to humans has yet to be seen.
Curcumin shows promise as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory disorder that commonly affects the joints but may spread to other areas, such as the eyes, lungs, skin, heart, and blood vessels. RA causes a painful swelling of the joints that can cause the bones to erode over time and ultimately lead to deformities and physical disabilities.
In one study, people with RA were given 500 mg of curcumin, 50 mg of diclofenac sodium (a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), or the two in combination. After eight weeks, the curcumin-only group saw significant improvements in joint tenderness and swelling when compared with the other two groups. Researchers note the curcumin treatment was also safe, resulting in no harmful events.
Antioxidants help protect your body against damage caused by free radicals, a class of highly reactive atoms that are generated in our bodies, as well as in environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke and industrial chemicals. ( 34) Too much exposure to free radicals can mess with the fats, proteins, and even DNA in your body, which may lead to a number of common diseases and health conditions, including cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Therefore, antioxidant-rich spices like turmeric may play a role in protecting you from free radical damage.
Curcumin in particular is able to scavenge different types of free radicals, control enzymes that neutralize free radicals and prevent certain enzymes from creating specific free radical types, according to a review in the October 2017 issue of Foods.
T urmeric doesn't normally have any negative side effects. Mild side effects include stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea in some people only manifest when taking a dosage of 5,000 milligrams or more.
The same agents in turmeric that support digestive health can cause irritation when taken in large amounts. Some participants in studies looking at the use of turmeric for cancer treatment had to drop out because their digestion was so negatively affected. Turmeric stimulates the stomach to produce more gastric acid. While this helps some people’s digestion, it can really do a number on others.
It’s important to use caution when deciding whether turmeric is something you need to try. As with any alternative therapy, speak with your doctor before you use turmeric to treat any health condition that you have.
Contrary to popular belief, the best source of curcumin isn't raw turmeric. To get the optimal amount of curcumin through turmeric, it would have to go through a laborious process or it would take you to boil and extract around 180 pieces of turmeric to get your daily nutritional dosage.
The best place to get curcumin is from turmeric supplements. There are many turmeric supplements on the market. But be wary as many brands are not delivering as well as others. Not all these supplements are created equal when it comes to safety and efficacy.
Without this substance, most of the curcumin just passes through your digestive tract.
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