Have you heard what researchers, scientists and nutritionists have to say about the astounding health benefits of the spice "turmeric" that hails from the turmeric plant. Also called golden spice, it's been a food and medicine in India for centuries. The Assyrians wrote about the spice as far back as 600 BC, and Marco Polo praised it for being "a wonderful way to dye cloth."
The turmeric plant produces roots from which the most active ingredient – curcumin – is harvested. Most of the world's supply of curcumin is produced in India, and they consume 80% of it. It begs the question, with India having the lowest Alzheimer's rate in the world, could it be from the turmeric?
Until recent decades, the knowledge of curcumin's health benefits was based on hearsay and folklore. But today, forward-looking researchers have a piqued interest in learning if the benefits are really true. By far, it has become one of the most studied spices, with over 5000 pre-clinical studies and research papers describing its benefits.
1. Remarkable Antioxidant
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and has remarkable abilities to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are "runaway" molecules that cause cellular damage that lead to inflammation and chronic disease. All antioxidants have the ability to neutralize free radicals, but curcumin is overwhelmingly more potent than all the others. Researcher and supplement developer Terry Lemerond explains that foods with antioxidant properties are assigned specific "values" or amounts of antioxidants they possess. As an example, 100 grams of blueberries have an antioxidant value of 6,522, and 100 grams of strawberries stand at 3,577. Now here's what is absolutely amazing. Curcumin checks in with an antioxidant value of over 1,000,000!
Inflammation is the new "buzz" word in health and wellness. It is normal for your body to become inflamed temporarily when you've had an injury that your body is repairing. But inflammation should have a beginning and an end. Uncontrolled inflammation is extremely destructive and experts now say it is the cause of all disease. From heart disease to diabetes to arthritis to asthma, the detrimental cycle of inflammation needs to be stopped. And that's where curcumin comes in. It has specific and unique substances that make it invaluable in easing chronic diseases.
Goel Jhurani and a group of researchers reported that "Curcumin, unlike synthetic drugs...reduces inflammation through its effects on multiple inflammation targets." And scientist B. Aaggarwal and his team wrote, "Because of anti-inflammatory activity... curcumin is effective against hundreds of diseases." And those are some pretty amazing claims for a humble little herb.
3. Mood Improve with Curcumin
Curcumin has also been shown to ease depression, help with moodiness and generally lift a person's spirit. Dr. A Lopresti from Murdoch University conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study (this is a study where one-half the pills are fakes, and neither the patient nor the researcher knows who's getting what). All of his patients had a major depressive disorder. His study lasted for eight weeks, with only one-half actually getting curcumin. Dr. Lopresti found that the curcumin taking people had significant improvement in mood-related symptoms compared to the others. And some of them even lost weight and slept better. His conclusion, "Depression can be treated with an agent (curcumin) that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties."
4. Joints and Arthritis
The destructive inflammatory disease of osteoarthritis has shown great improvements with curcumin. An interesting property of curcumin is its ability to protect chondrocytes (unique cells that are only found in cartilage) from inflammatory destruction.
A study reported at the 2011 World Congress of Osteoarthritis in San Diego, CA, compared curcumin to the arthritis-treating drug called Celebrex®. The curcumin formula provided superior results in this four-month study. Half of the participants took 100 mg of Celebrex twice daily, and the second half took 500 mg twice a day of a curcumin. Not only was the curcumin more tolerable, but it was more effective at relieving pain and joint tenderness. And all without the side effects of Celebrex.
5. Curcumin, IBS and Liver Health
It turns out the curcumin's "hot" reputation is really quite cooling. Researchers out of Reading University in the UK say that curcumin has anti-inflammatory effects in the gut. Many people suffer from what they describe as 'intolerable' abdominal pain including flatulence and diarrhea. The researchers suggest that the "time has come to do a properly-designed study on human volunteers and the benefits of curcumin." This group of scientists also suggested that the spice is effective at repairing liver damage.
6. Help for Premenstrual Syndrome & Menopause
If you dread that time of the month because of down moods, bloating and all the rest, then keep reading! A study in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine revealed an easy way to reduce bothersome pre-period symptoms. Thirty-two "PMS plagued" women participated in a study. Half of them were given curcumin supplements, and the unfortunate other half received a placebo. The women who got the real spice had a 60% reduction in symptoms, compared to the placebo group who only had a 14% improvement. They also found that hypertension improved in postmenopausal women on the spice.
7. Heart Disease and Cholesterol
Heart attacks and strokes result from plaque buildup or high cholesterol levels. When the plaque gets heavy, a clot can break off and travel to the heart or brain, leading to a heart attack, stroke or worse. Numerous studies have pointed out that curcumin can reduce the stickiness of the blood platelets, meaning that they have less chance of forming a clot. The spice has also been studied for its ability to relax blood vessels and even lessen heart damage after one has suffered a heart attack.
Further, numerous research projects confirm all of the above but add the fact that curcumin might even help prevent a buildup of plaque in the first place, leading to less blocked arteries, stroke or heart attack.
8. Managing Blood Sugar with Curcumin
But wait! There's more! In a study out of China, scientists conducted a human study on 100 male and female Type 2 diabetics. The group was divided in half, with 50 people getting curcumin and 50 getting a sugar pill (a placebo).
None of them knew which pill they were given. After 12 weeks, the curcumin takers had dramatically reduced fasting glucose levels and better insulin resistance. The other group was unchanged. The study was reported in 2013 in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. As the researchers explained, curcumin works partly because it reduces the harmful or “free” fatty acids that are in your blood. And that's a good thing because elevated harmful fatty acids impair your cell's ability to metabolize glucose.
With all the research attesting to its healthy properties, why not add it this natural wonder herb your diet? See our Organic Turmeric Products.
Aggarwal, B. Curcumin in New Zealand. Introduction to Curcumin. 2007. http://www.curcumin.co.nz/prof_bharat_aggarwal.htm
Jhurani , Goel. Curcumin Research.org. http://www.curcuminresearch.org/how.html
Jurenka J. Anti-inflammatory Properties of Curcumin, a Major Constituent of Curcuma longa: a Review of Preclinical and Clinical Research. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Jun; 14(2):141-53.
Khayat, S. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Curcumin Attenuates Severity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. June 2015.
Kuttan, S. Curcumin Research. http://www.curcuminresearch.org/immune.html
Lopresti, A. Journal of Affective Disorders Volume 167, Pages 368–375, October 1, 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.06.001
Sugawara J, Akazawa N, Miyaki A, Choi Y, Tanabe Y, Imai T, Maeda S. Am J Hypertens. Effect of Endurance Exercise Training and Curcumin Intake on Central Arterial Hemodynamics in Postmenopausal Women: Pilot Study. 2012 Jun;25(6):651-6.