Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric was traditionally called “Indian saffron” because of its yellow-orange color and has been used throughout history because of its health benefits.
1. Prevents Cancer
Turmeric can help prevent prostate cancer, stop the growth of existing prostate cancer and even destroy cancer cells. Multiple researchers have found that the active components in turmeric makes it one of the best protectors against radiation-induced tumors. It also has a preventive effect against tumor cells such as T-cell leukemia, colon carcinomas and breast carcinomas.
2. Relieves Arthritis
The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric are great for treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, turmeric’s antioxidant property destroys free radicals in the body that damage body cells. It has been found that those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who consume turmeric on a regular basis experience much relief from the moderate to mild joint pains as well as joint inflammation.
3. Helps Cystic Fibrosis Sufferers
Curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric that gives the spice its yellow color, can correct the most common expression of the genetic defect that is responsible for cystic fibrosis, suggests an animal study published in the Science (April 2004). Cystic fibrosis, a fatal disease that attacks the lungs with a thick mucus, causing life-threatening infections, afflicts about 30,000 American children and young adults, who rarely survive beyond 30 years of age. The mucus also damages the pancreas, thus interfering with the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
4. Controls Diabetes
Turmeric can be used in the treatment of diabetes by helping to moderate insulin levels. It also improves glucose control and increases the effect of medications used to treat diabetes. Another significant benefit is turmeric’s effectiveness in helping reduce insulin resistance, which may prevent the onset of Type-2 diabetes. However, when combined with strong medications, turmeric can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It is best to consult a healthcare professional before taking turmeric capsules.
5. Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth and Metastases
Epidemiological studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer; laboratory experiments have shown curcumin can prevent tumors from forming; and research conducted at the University of Texas suggests that even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice.
In this study, published in Biochemical Pharmacology (September 2005), human breast cancer cells were injected into mice, and the resulting tumors removed to simulate a mastectomy.
How did curcumin help? “Curcumin acts against transcription factors, which are like a master switch,” said lead researcher, Bharat Aggarwal. “Transcription factors regulate all the genes needed for tumors to form. When we turn them off, we shut down some genes that are involved in the growth and invasion of cancer cells.”
Early phase-1 clinical trials at the University of Texas are now also looking into curcumin’s chemopreventive and therapeutic properties against multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer, and other research groups are investigating curcumin’s ability to prevent oral cancer.
6. Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Research has proven that simply using turmeric as a food seasoning can reduce serum cholesterol levels. It is a known fact that high cholesterol can lead to other serious health problems. Maintaining a proper cholesterol level can prevent many cardiovascular diseases.
7. Reduces Risk of Childhood Leukemia
Research presented at a recent conference on childhood leukemia, held in London, provides evidence that eating foods spiced with turmeric could reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia. The incidence of this cancer has risen dramatically during the 20th century, mainly in children under age five, among whom the risk has increased by more than 50% cent since 1950 alone. Modern environmental and lifestyle factors are thought to play a major role in this increase.
“Some of the known risk factors that contribute to the high incidence of childhood leukemia are the interaction of many lifestyle and environmental factors. These include prenatal or postnatal exposure to radiation, benzene, environmental pollutants and alkylating chemotherapeutic drugs. Our studies show that turmeric—and its colouring principle, curcumin—in the diet mitigate the effects of some of these risk factors.”
8. Immunity Booster
Turmeric contains a substance known as lipopolysaccharide, which helps stimulate the body’s immune system. Its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents also help strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system lessens the chance of suffering from colds, flu and coughs. If you do get a cold, a cough or the flu, you can feel better sooner by mixing one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk and drinking it once daily.
9. Turmeric Heals Wound
Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used as an effective disinfectant. If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process. Turmeric also helps repair damaged skin and may be used to treat psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.
10. Weight Management Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric powder can be very helpful in maintaining an ideal body weight. A component present in turmeric helps increase the flow of bile, an important component in the breakdown of dietary fat. Those who wish to lose weight or treat obesity and other associated diseases can benefit from having one teaspoon of turmeric powder with every meal.
11. Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease
Brain inflammation is suspected to be one of the leading causes of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric supports overall brain health by aiding in the removal of plaque build-up in the brain and improving the flow of oxygen. This can also prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
12. Improves Digestion
Many key components in turmeric stimulate the gallbladder to produce bile, which then improves digestion and reduces symptoms of bloating and gas. Also, turmeric is helpful in treating most forms of inflammatory bowel disease including ulcerative colitis. However it is important to bear in mind that people suffering from any kind of gallbladder disease should not take turmeric as a dietary supplement as it may worsen the condition. It is best to consume turmeric in raw form when suffering from a digestive problem.
13. Prevents Liver Disease
Turmeric is a kind of natural liver detoxifier. The liver detoxifies the blood through the production of enzymes and turmeric increases production of these vital enzymes. These vital enzymes break down and reduce toxins in the body. Turmeric also is believed to invigorate and improve blood circulation. All of these factors support good liver health.