Turmeric is popular as a golden spice not only in India, but many other nations and among plenty of communities around the world. Turmeric is useful in treating several ailments as well as having many benefits that it provides to the user. Some of the benefits include spicing up soaps, customizing foundation, brightening pearly whites, saving the scalp and soothing an upset stomach among others. In fact, few nutritional supplements are as effective as turmeric.
Some of the names by which turmeric is known include Radix Curcumae, Yu Jin, Curcuminoids, Curcumine, Curcumin, Curcuma Domestica and Turmeric Root. Curcuma and Curcuma aromatic are also common names of turmeric in some circles. Haridra, Haldi and Halada are also ones by which turmeric is known. Other names that you should never feel embarrassed to use when referring to turmeric include Nisha and Indian Saffron. 1
Turmeric has a few similarities with orange and ginger in terms of mild fragrance in addition to a flavor that’s not only warm, but also peppery and bitter. Making curry requires many ingredients and turmeric is on top of the list. Turmeric is obtainable from the Curcuma longa plant – especially the roots. The deep brown flesh, as well as the tough brown skin, is just but two of the major attributes that turmeric has.
Most importantly, remember that turmeric is a plant. It belongs to the ginger family known as Zingiberaceae. Turmeric is native to India, but also grown commercially in tropical South Asia as well as China. In the US, turmeric enjoys approval as a bona fine food additive and its low cost commercial availability has made the plant popular in North America. In fur and hair dyes, as well as cosmetics, yellow mustards and pharmaceuticals, turmeric is a coloring agent. 2
In Chinese and Indian medicine, turmeric has been one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory medications. Traditionally, turmeric is featured as not only a textile dye, but also healing remedy and condiment. Some of the ailments that turmeric has proven highly effective in treating include headaches, lung infections, stomach pain, heartburn, arthritis, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating and jaundice among others.
Health benefits of Turmeric
- Anti-Inflammatory: The effectiveness of turmeric as an anti-inflammatory is because of the volatility of its oil fraction. Turmeric also owes its effectiveness in this regard to the presence of curcumin – which is a primary pharmacological agent. The potency of turmeric is not in doubt, but more impressive is the fact that it’s safe and produces no toxicity.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Turmeric is not only inexpensive, but also effective for the treatment of IBDs such as Crohn’s. Ulcerative colitis, which remains one of the most dangerous types of IBDs, is treatable with turmeric. It’s worth mentioning that the severity and type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease that you’re diagnosed with will determine whether taking turmeric to treat it, is good or not. 3
- Relief from Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis can be quite debilitating. The fact that it not only causes pain, but also stiffness and swelling thus making the joints lose their ability to function properly makes the search for proper treatment a matter of priority. This is where turmeric can be very helpful. 4
- Cystic Fibrosis: Faulty genes are responsible for causing cystic fibrosis. This condition clogs the digestive system with mucus, thus making it increasingly difficult for the patient to breathe or digest food. A regular intake of turmeric can be helpful in treating a patient afflicted with this condition.
- Cancer Prevention: Turmeric owes its ability to prevent cancer to the antioxidant properties that it has. The antioxidant properties of turmeric are highly effective in ensuring that free radicals do not find their way to the colon cells, from whence they can cause severe damages to the cellular DNA. 5
- Inhibition of growth of the Cancer Cells: Epidemiological studies indicate the existence of a correlation between use of turmeric and the low incidences of colon, lung, prostate and breast cancers. The regular intake of curcumin helps in the prevention of tumors from developing or growing in any part of the body.
- Childhood Leukemia: This disease affects the blood-forming tissues of the body. Some of the common treatments for leukemia that a child would need include stem cell transplant, radiation, targeted therapy, biological therapy and chemotherapy. However, a regular intake of turmeric would eliminate the need for such therapies as it prevents leukemia. 6
- Liver Function: The liver can fail to function properly. Symptoms of liver disease include dark urine color, chronic fatigue, nausea, itchy skin, swelling in ankles and legs, paleness of the stool and yellowish eyes or skin (jaundice) to name a few. A regular intake of turmeric will improve the way the liver functions, thus preventing diseases from occurring. 7
- Cardiovascular Protection: Oxidation of cholesterol within the body should not worry a person who regularly intakes turmeric. Oxidized cholesterol has the tendency of damaging blood vessels while building up the plaques responsible for leading to stroke or heart attack. Turmeric reduces oxidization of cholesterol thus offering adequate cardiovascular protection.
- Anti-Aging Agent: Facial spots, wrinkles and fine lines on the face disappear with regular use or application of the turmeric cream. In essence, what the cream does is that it enables patients displeased with the condition of their faces or the aging process-taking place and appearing on their faces to take an effective and proactive measure instead of sitting back and waiting for the worsening of the current situation. 8
Who Should Use Turmeric?
A common argument regarding turmeric is whether it’s good for consuming as a supplement or spice. The use of turmeric as a spice is common in culinary fields. However, it’s not difficult to find ground turmeric that is commonly used as an herbal supplement. Whether turmeric is used as a supplement or spice does not make it any less capable of being helpful. On the other hand, it’s good to know whether you qualify to take turmeric or not.
Turmeric supplements are good for treating conditions such as menstrual problems and lung infections. The supplements are also excellent for treating bronchitis, dyspepsia, skin problems and cancer as well as lung infection. If the supplements are to be helpful by providing therapeutic benefits to the patient, they must contain a minimum of 95 percent standardized curcumin and be free of artificial colors, preservatives, yeast, gluten and starch.
When you consider that 14.5 percent of pregnant women develop complications each year, it’s important for such individuals to avoid using supplements that could expose them to more risks. 9 A few groups of people whose use of turmeric should be under great supervision include the following:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Gallbladder patients
- People with bleeding problems
- Diabetic individuals
- Patients diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Patients with uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and breast cancer
- People diagnosed with infertility
- People with iron deficiency
- People scheduled to undergo surgery 10
Safety Concerns with Turmeric
When it comes to turmeric contraindications, there is no need for raising an alarm. This is because turmeric has no known contraindications. The fact that some people use it for the stimulation of menstruation as well as causing abortion should convince you of the importance of using it properly to avoid causing complications. The lack of proper documentation regarding turmeric’s indications is also worth noting.
The use of turmeric has not seen a massive increase in the side effects associated with it. All clinical trials conducted thus far have shown that few adverse reactions might arise from the improper or inappropriate use of turmeric. Some of the adverse reactions that might arise from the use of turmeric include contact dermatitis as well as anaphylaxis. Individuals susceptible to kidney stones might see an increase in the risk of diagnosis with this condition.
Limitations of Turmeric Spices and Supplements
Turmeric spices do not have a reputation for causing side effects. This does not mean that their intake should proceed without any limitation or control. A person who takes turmeric spices and supplements in excessive doses would be susceptible to dizziness, nausea and upset stomach. It is highly recommended to be careful with the dosage if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are diabetic or diagnosed with GERD, the intake of turmeric should be out of the question.
When you consider the many health benefits that a user would obtain from taking turmeric, it becomes clearer that more people should receive encouragement to continue using it. The fact that more than 1.5 million in the US alone receive cancer diagnosis each year should convince people of the importance of trying to keep this disease at bay at all costs, and the use of turmeric will help in achieving this goal.
Therefore, if you have never taken turmeric or have been hesitant about continuing its usage, the aforementioned data should help you make an informed decision. More importantly, remember to use turmeric in moderation and as per your medical physician’s recommendations. Do not begin using turmeric until you’ve consulted and spoken with your doctor and received his permission after he conducts a proper evaluation of your eligibility.