Turmeric is a spice native to southwest India and has been used for thousands of years. The bright orange/yellow powder has been used in India as a spice, food coloring, for cosmetic purposes, and medicinal purposes since ancient times. It is part of most Indian curries and is rich in fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and B6.
Turmeric is gathered annually for its rhizomes (underground stems). The rhizomes are boiled for about 30–45 minutes then dried in hot ovens after which they are dry ground into a deep-orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice.
The “medicinal” ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is said to boost immunity and is a great source of antioxidants. It is said to contain about 7 times more antioxidants than Vitamin E.
The Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center reports that low doses of curcumin can enhance antibody responses and may be helpful for those with arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers because of its high antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin appears to help prevent “free radical” damage to DNA and helps regulate inflammatory transcription factors such as “tumor necrosis factor,” interleukin-1 and interleukin 6.
Drew Tortoriello, MD, an endocrinologist and research scientist at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center states that turmeric can help decrease insulin resistance and may help as part of a lifestyle regimen to forestall or prevent the progression of pre diabetes to type 2 diabetes. Since curcumin is not bioavailable in and of itself, to makes sense to add turmeric powder to your food.
Studies at the University of Maryland Medical Center suggest that turmeric may promote joint, blood vessel, and digestive tract health. Curcumin may be a part of cancer treatment.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric may help to prevent or treat some forms of cancer. Curcumin’s antioxidant properties may help protect cells from oxidative damage, which is a risk factor for cancer. Additionally, early animal studies have shown that IV curcumin can kill prostate, breast, skin and colon cancers in animals. However, as these studies are inconclusive, you should not use turmeric to replace proven cancer treatment methods.
Compounds in turmeric help to lower low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels and prevent cholesterol from building plaque on blood vessel walls. Turmeric can also prevent platelets from clumping together, which may reduce the risk of blood clots.
Tumeric can also help to decrease bloating and gas but it should not be used by people with stomach ulcers.
Research published in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology suggests that the curcumin in turmeric has a potential role in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin has properties that may help decrease Beta-amyloid plaques, degradation of neurons. Its anti –inflammatory and antioxidant properties may help improve declining memory for people with AD.
A study at Nirmala Medical Center, Kerala, India by Chandran and Goel found that the curcumin in turmeric can help lessen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis with no adverse effects. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory, autoimmune condition involving inflammation of the joints.
Drinking turmeric tea once a day will allow you to experience curcumin’s reported benefits. Add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder to 2 cups (16 ounces) of boiling water, simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a large mug. Consider adding a little ground cinnamon and 1 tsp of honey to your turmeric tea for flavor. (1 tsp of honey is a 5 gram Counter Carb on The Metabolism Miracle program).
Turmeric (curcumin) is a blood thinner and should not be used for patients taking Warfarin or Coumadin without MD approval. Turmeric can cause blood thinning.
It should not be used by pregnant or lactating women.
Don’t confuse turmeric with Javanese turmeric root (Curcuma zedoaria).
Don’t use turmeric if you have stomach ulcers.
In my opinion, if you are interested in adding turmeric (curcumin) to your healthy lifestyle, check with your MD and give it a try. You may come to enjoy it, and reap some of its health benefits, too.