Top 10 Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an orange-yellow colored spice produced from the Curcuma longa plant, which is a perennial plant that is part of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae.
Native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, turmeric has long been used as a culinary spice in Asian cooking as well as a coloring agent.
Turmeric is one of the important ingredient in curry powder and it is used in many products such as canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, cakes, biscuits, and sauces.
Apart from its culinary uses, it is also used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for various health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and more.
There are several chemical compounds found in turmeric which are known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. But the most active of them all is a substance called curcumin which is responsible for its yellow-orange color.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
1. Prevents heart disease
Due to its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can lower the chance of heart diseases. Curcumin in turmeric can improve the lining of the blood vessels, regulate blood pressure and reduce blood clotting.
In a study of healthy postmenopausal women, published in 2012 in Nutrition Research, showed that even a modest dose of 150 mg a day of curcumin was found to be as effective as moderate aerobic exercise at improving blood flow to the heart and preventing atherosclerosis.
2. Prevents cancer
Turmeric has anti-cancer effect that not only kills cancer cells but also prevents them from growing. It has been found effective in preventing cancers of the breast, bowel, stomach, liver and skin.
A 2007 American study in mice seemed to show that curcumin helped to stop the spread of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body .
A 2013 international laboratory study looked at the effects of a combined treatment with curcumin and chemotherapy on bowel cancer cells. The researchers concluded that the combined treatment might be better than chemotherapy alone.
3. Prevents Alzheimer’s disease
The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin have also been studied as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, lab-based studies have shown curcumin’s ability to break down amyloid-beta plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s not certain that turmeric can prevent or treat the disease .
4. Reduces diabetes risk
Many studies have shown that turmeric can be used to reduce diabetes risk.
In a study conducted in Thailand, turmeric was shown to be effective in delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes. For 9 months, people with prediabetes were placed in both placebo and controlled trial groups where they were randomly receiving curcumin or placebo capsules. At the end of the study, 16.4 percent people in the placebo group were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes whereas nobody in the curcumin treated group were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The same study furthermore suggested that curcumin also improved the beta-cells functioning which make insulin in the pancreas.
Other study published in Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications showed a comparison between the effects of taking a turmeric supplement and a common diabetes treatment drug called Metformin among the patients. The result showed that turmeric supplement was not only 400 times more potent than the mentioned diabetes drug in activating AMPK for insulin sensitivity but it also cured some of the harshest effects of diabetes such as damaged blood vessels.
5. Improves body’s immunity
Turmeric is also effective in boosting the immune system due to the presence of curcumin.
Curcumin in turmeric is able to kill the unwanted body invading substances and bacteria that often leads to diseases. It boosts the cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) in the body that strengthens the immune system and helps protect against microbial infection.
6. Promotes weight loss
Drinking turmeric tea is a great way to lose weight. It helps burn excessive fat by increasing your metabolism rate. Additionally, turmeric tea also helps to detoxifies the body, particularly the liver, which can also aid in healthy weight loss .
To make turmeric tea, boil 3-4 cups of water and add one teaspoon of ground turmeric to it. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for at least 10 minutes. Strain this using a fine sieve and add some lemon or honey to taste when the tea has cooled down. Drink this once a day.
7. Wound healing
Turmeric is an effective remedy for open wound healing. Its potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties all contribute to the enhancement of wound healing. Turmeric will also take care of any internal blood loss and internal wound or injury.
Mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder into a glass of hot water and drink it regularly twice a day.
8. Reduces depression symptoms
Studies have confirmed that curcumin, found in turmeric, has a similar effect as antidepressants on patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD).
In a controlled trial, 60 patients were randomized into three groups. One group took Prozac, another group took a gram of curcumin and the third group took both Prozac and curcumin. After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements that were similar to Prozac. The group that took both Prozac and curcumin fared best.
Curcumin has also been shown effective at fighting major depression by reducing stress hormones and increasing dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for emotional regulation and mood .
9. Beneficial for skin
Since turmeric is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it has been proven to be beneficial for the skin especially in treating acne and acne scarring. It removes excess oil and opens clogged pores which cause acne. It is also an excellent antioxidant, which helps in treating pimples and inflammation.
Mix the turmeric and honey together to get a thick paste. Apply the paste on the affected areas. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and then wash it off with warm water. Do this once every day until you get the desired results.
10. Supports healthy hair and scalp
Another benefit of turmeric is its ability to support the growth of healthy hair. Turmeric improves your scalp health and encourage hair growth by reducing conditions such as dandruff and other scalp problems like itching.
You can prepare a mixture of turmeric and coconut oil that when applied on the scalp, it will improve the circulation in your scalp, fight the dandruff and nourish your hair.
Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and 2 tablespoons cold-pressed coconut oil in a bowl. Apply the mixture over the scalp and leave it on for 1 to 2 hours, then rinse it off with your normal shampoo. For best results, avoid conditioning hair the day prior to treatment.
How to Select and Store Turmeric
When buying turmeric, look for rhizomes that are firm, smooth and without any mold. Avoid those with dark, soft spots. Also be sure to choose organic turmeric as it doesn’t possess additives which will ruin the potency.
Fresh turmeric may be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag where it will keep for a month. Turmeric powder should be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep for up to a year.