By Tina Deas, Nov 5 2016 10:00AM
Turmeric or Curcumin is a member of the ginger family and is native to Southern Asia. Like ginger, the roots can be used fresh but we tend to see it our supermarkets in the herb and spice section once it has been ground into a deep orange-yellow powder. Turmeric has been used as a medicinal spice and in Indian cuisine for thousands of years, its bright yellow pigment adding a golden hue to curry dishes.
At long last, Turmeric's medicinal properties are finally receiving the recognition that they deserve in both scientific journals and the health pages of magazines and the national press. High quality scientific studies all over the world are proving that the medicinal compounds in turmeric can have major benefits for your body and brain.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in Turmeric, and as well as being a very strong antioxidant curcumin also has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. In fact Curcumin is arguably among one of the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world.
What is inflammation?
inflammation is the body's attempt at self-protection. When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, there is a biological response to try to remove it. The signs and symptoms of inflammation, show that the body is trying to heal itself. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria, could easily take over our bodies and kill us. So short term inflammation is beneficial to us. However, long term inflammation is not good for us and inflammation is pretty much involved in almost every disease process known to man. Anything that can help us to fight off inflammation is potentially important in preventing and treating inflammatory diseases such Arthritis, AS, Ulcerative Colitis, Chrohns, IBS, Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative diseases in the world and a leading cause of dementia. There are some 850,000 people with dementia in the UK with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2020 as there is as yet no real treatment for the disease.
It is known that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease as well as the build up of amyloid proteins which destroy neurons in the brain.
There is good news on the horizon! In a recent one year study looking at how Alzheimers could be prevented or slowed down, the triai published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found evidence that Curcumin is the key chemical in Turmeric that blocks the rogue beta ameloid proteins which kill off the brain.
Arthritis And Other Inflammatory Conditions
Arthritis and AS are very painful disorders which are characterized by joint inflammation. Many studies show that Curcumin targets inflammation at a molecular level and can help to treat the symptoms of arthritis.
Curcumin has been compared favourably to anti inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs except it does not have any of their side effects.
With regards to Curcumin and disease reversal, various types of cancer is one of the most thoroughly researched topics in the world by global authorities like Cancer Research UK.
A number of laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that Curcumin does have anti-cancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It appears to work incredibly well to help naturally treat cancer and has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells.
This amazing little spice has also shown some promise in treating depression.
In a controlled trial, 60 patients were randomized into three groups. One group took Prozac (Fluroxetene), the second 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 the best.
The authors of this small study claimed “This study provides first clinical evidence that Curcumin may be used as an effective and safe therapy for treatment in patients with Mild Depression.”
A regular intake of a quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric a day may promote certain aspects of our health and harness its abilty to to keep inflammation at bay.
How To Incorporate Turmeric Into Your Diet
Add 1-2 teaspoons to any soup recipe. It will add a deep golden hue to it.
A natural in curries, turmeric brings warm flavors to any curry or stew.
When you sauté the vegetables in oil, add in 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric.
Add a color pop to rice dishes by adding ½ teaspoon turmeric to the water when cooking the rice.
Sprinkle on sweet potatoes.
Especially good with lentils which are also packed with antioxidants - see my "Spicy Lentil Soup" Recipie in my previous blog about lentils.
(Photo by Tabphoto)