Turmeric

Health Benefits of the Golden Spice: Turmeric

It sounds almost like something a witch in a fairy tale would instruct: Just eat this spice and it will cure all manner of ailments! Add it to your food or drink it as a tincture, rub the extract onto your skin, rinse your mouth with it, even use it in an enema — Turmeric, “the golden spice,” will cure what ails you.

Turmeric is a golden yellow spice in the ginger family and is well-known as the main flavor in curry (1). Native to southern Asia, turmeric has been used for thousands of years in cooking (2). In India, use of turmeric in Ayurvedic medicine goes back more than 4500 years, where it was thought to alleviate congestion, wounds, and even diseases like smallpox and chickenpox (3). Today, India produces nearly 90% of the world’s turmeric (4).

Curcumin (not to be confused with cumin) is the active chemical in turmeric that may decrease swelling, making it a useful treatment for conditions related to inflammation (1). Reports suggest that turmeric may aid in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, assist in balancing blood sugar and boosting kidney function, soothe indigestion, help people with ulcerative colitis stay in remission, and lessen the severity of certain forms of arthritis (2,5). Turmeric may also be a natural liver detoxifier, reduce the effects of some forms of heart disease, help wounds to heal, lessen aches and discomfort, and kill bacteria and viruses (5,6,7). Interestingly, studies have shown that turmeric may boost some chemo medicines and may also make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemo and radiotherapy (7). Furthermore, turmeric has been shown to slow the growth and spread of cancers such as melanoma (7) and to help prevent prostate, breast, colon, stomach, and skin cancers in rats exposed to carcinogens (5,8).

Turmeric is natural and has no toxic effects on the body, so it is generally considered to be safe. However, turmeric may interfere with drugs that reduce stomach acid and may cause stomach upset and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) (1,5).  Turmeric may also strengthen diabetes medication, which increases the risk of low blood sugar (5). Gallbladder problems could be exacerbated by the use of turmeric, large amounts of turmeric may reduce iron absorption, and blood clotting may be slowed, so doctors recommend that patients stop use of turmeric two weeks before surgery(1). Men who take turmeric may have lowered testosterone levels and sperm count, which reduces fertility (1).

Take advantage of the health benefits of turmeric! Try some delicious and healthy recipes featuring “the golden spice” and see how it works for you.

Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce and Carrot Salad 
Turmeric Masala Curry
Turmeric Tea

 

 

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingred ientid=662
  2. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78
  3. http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/turmeric-history/
  4. http://www.turmeric.co.in/turmeric_spice.htm
  5. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric
  6. http://www.globalhealingcom/natural-health/8-impressive-health-benefits-turmeric/
  7. http://www.mindbodygcom/0-6873/25-Reasons-Why-Turmeric-Can-Heal-You.html
  8. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/turmeric

Published by

Kristin Hanratty

Kristin Hanratty grew up in Wayne and has lived and worked as an editor in the Philadelphia area for more than 10 years. Kristin enjoys any combination of the following: good food, passable wine, cozy mysteries, and baking for friends and family.