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Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as both a spice and a medicinal herb, and people have long enthused about its amazing results.
In recent years, experts have confirmed that turmeric does actually have medicinal properties as it contains compounds known as curcuminoids. The most important curcuminoid present in turmeric is curcumin, this is the main active ingredient and it’s proven to be both a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Find out all about what turmeric is good for and the various health benefits of this powerful plant in this guide.
In turmeric spices you can buy, the curcumin content is rather low at around 3%. For that reason, most studies that have been carried out have used extracts and supplements that contain high levels of curcumin. In order to really see the turmeric benefits listed below, it’s more beneficial to take a supplement that contains curcumin, rather than simply popping a spoonful of the spice into your food or drink.
1. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory
One of the key turmeric benefits is that it can fight inflammation which is due to the curcumin content. In fact, it’s actually proven to be so powerful that curcumin can match the effectiveness of certain anti-inflammatory drugs, but without the negative side effects that come with them.
Due to the fact it’s a natural anti-inflammatory, it can be useful in managing the symptoms of a range of diseases including heart disease, metabolic syndrome and even Alzheimer’s. On top of this, it’s been found to help with arthritis with studies demonstrating its effectiveness in treating rheumatoid arthritis and these have also discovered that it may actually be more effective than other anti-inflammatory drugs.
2. It acts as a powerful antioxidant
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that can help manage free radicals, which are chemically active molecules that cause damage to your body’s cells. As well as blocking these free radicals, curcumin also boosts the activity of your body’s antioxidant enzymes and increases your own defences. Due to its ability to help with free radicals, it’s said to support both the prevention and treatment of heart disease.
3. It can help reduce the spread of cancer
Certain studies have found that one of the benefits of turmeric and curcumin is that it can affect the formation, growth and development of certain cancers at a molecular level. These studies cite that it can reduce the spread, kill cancerous cells and may even help with negative chemotherapy side effects.
4. It’s brain food
One of the things curcumin and turmeric is good for is increasing the brain’s levels of BDNF, a growth hormone that functions in your brain. Brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and depression have been linked to decreased levels of this. Curcumin has been found to be effective in delaying some brain diseases and age-related issues with brain function, and there are even certain studies being conducted right now to analyse whether it can improve memory and make you smarter!
5. It can reduce the risk of heart disease
Curcumin can improve the function of endothelium (the lining of blood vessels). The dysfunction of this is one of the largest causes of heart disease due to its inability to regulate blood pressure and clotting. As mentioned previously, a benefit to turmeric and curcumin is that it reduces inflammation which also plays a part in heart disease.
In 2012 a study stated the effectiveness of curcumin on those with heart disease. During the study 121 people were undergoing surgery for a coronary artery bypass, some of which were given a placebo, whereas others were given 4 grams of curcumin for a few days prior to surgery. It was found that the curcumin group had a huge 65% decreased risk of having a heart attack when in the hospital.
It’s important to note that studies are still being conducted on the effectiveness of turmeric and curcumin in treating certain disorders. If you’re looking to take it as a supplement, you should look for a vitamin that contains Piperline as this increases curcumin absorption by 2000%, without this there’s a strong chance that the curcumin will just pass right through your digestive tract.
Want to find out more about supplements? Read our guide to the benefits of selenium, next.