Turmeric is best known as the main spice in curry, one of the staple dishes of India. What is less well-known are the incredible health benefits of turmeric, including its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. As one of the hottest members of the ginger family, there are currently thousands of peer-reviewed articles touting the yellow-orange spice’s bodily benefits. Turmeric plants grow in the forests of South and Southeast Asia and the resulting spice is a common ingredient in Thai, Pakistani, and Persian dishes in addition to Indian cuisine. It has been used for over 2,500 years in India.
What Is Turmeric?
The turmeric spice is actually the dried, ground version of its rhizome. Its main component is curcumin, a fat-soluble compound believed to prevent enzymes in the body from turning environmental toxins into carcinogens. Curcumin makes up about 3% of turmeric by weight and offers a variety of health properties. The body has a somewhat challenging time absorbing turmeric into the bloodstream, which is why many health experts suggest ingesting the spice with peppercorn. Pepper contains piperine, a natural substance that significantly increases curcumin’s absorption rate. Since the compound is fat-soluble, consuming it with a healthy fat-heavy meal is recommended.
How To Use Turmeric
In addition to enjoying the spice in assorted curry dishes, it is possible to take turmeric root as a supplement or add it to any appropriate dish. Some people even purchase it in bulk and add it to smoothies and the like, or use it in broth or tea. How you choose to use turmeric should depend on what you intend to use it for.
12 Health Benefits Of Turmeric
1. Cancer Prevention
This spice is known to help prevent the development of malignant and pre-malignant cells. One study indicated turmeric slows the progression of prostate cancer and prevents new cancerous cells from forming when consumed with cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower. Another study found curcumin destroys melanoma cells and its topical version may help fight squamous cell carcinoma. Additional studies indicate the spice’s effectiveness in fighting leukemia cells and preventing metastasis, or the spread of cancer from its main site to other parts of the body. It has also shown considerable promise combatting other types of cancer as well.
2. Improved Digestion
Turmeric’s digestive properties include the ability to reduce bloating and gas, improve fat and sugar digestion, and prevent inflammation issues within the digestive system. Its fat metabolism abilities are believed to also help with weight management.
3. Alleviates Depression
The spice has demonstrated effectiveness in fighting depression. While research on this topic so far has mainly involved laboratory animals, a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research observed the effects of the spice on 60 volunteers with depressive disorders. The study authors remarked, “This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe therapy for treatment in patients with mild depression.” It offers benefits similar to Prozac without the side effects.
4. Skin Benefits
Turmeric benefits for skin include improvement of conditions such as eczema, body acne, and psoriasis. It promotes faster wound healing by decreasing oxidation and inflammation and disinfecting burns and cuts. The spice has also been linked to reduced acne scarring and collagen improvement to promote younger-looking skin. Additionally, it shows promise as a treatment for scabies while also helping skin achieve a natural glow. Turmeric is regularly added to soap and other skincare treatments due to its healing benefits.
5. Better Brain Health
Turmeric’s ability to help Alzheimer’s patients is well-documented. The low rates of the degenerative brain disease in India prompted a study that found the orange spice eliminates amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain, helping to slow, if not prevent, Alzheimer’s disease. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help with brain inflammation issues.
6. Weight Loss Aid
A powerful weight loss aid, turmeric combats obesity and its symptoms by helping to lower insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, reverse hyperglycemia, reduce leptin resistance, and activate fat-burning gene signals. It provides the benefits overweight individuals need without the side effects of commercial diet pills.
7. Healthier Liver Function
The liver is the body’s filter and subsequently deals with the variety of processed foods, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and other toxins consumed on a regular basis. Turmeric promotes healthy liver function by protecting against alcohol-related damage and issues stemming from diets high in saturated and trans fats.
8. Natural Painkiller
One study compared the spice to the over-the-counter painkiller ibuprofen with great results. It relieves pain in those suffering from knee osteoarthritis thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Additional benefits concerning turmeric for arthritis include joint pain and inflammation relief.
9. Slows Multiple Sclerosis
A Vanderbilt University study found turmeric may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis. Similar to Alzheimer’s, MS rates are low in countries where the spice is consumed regularly.
10. Parkinson’s Disease Benefits
Numerous studies demonstrate that this Asian spice can benefit those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Curcumin is a known neuroprotective agent that, according to Michigan State University researchers, prevents the clumping of proteins responsible for causing the disease.
11. Helps Prevent Stomach Ulcers
The spice contributes to the prevention of stomach ulcers and stomach cancer according to a study by the American Society for Microbiology. It stops the growth of H. pylori (helicobacter pylori), a type of bacteria found in the stomach, as well as several other parts of the body.
12. Promotes More Restful Sleep
Yet another study found turmeric is a natural sleep aid. It prevents oxidative damage, anxiety, and other sleep deprivation issues. It promotes better, healthier rest without the side effects associated with commercial sleep aids or dangerous pharmaceutical solutions.
These and other health benefits of turmeric provide the body with the extra boost it needs to combat disease and a wide variety of conditions. Its many properties include mental and emotional health benefits in addition to those contributing to a more functional body. Because the spice is so hot, many recommend blending it with other foods unless you enjoy spicy dishes. Add this spice to your diet and enjoy the results!