Spices have always been used in India. They are used mainly to add flavor to food and also to heal various conditions of our body.
The best among them for its healing properties is turmeric. It is already famous as a treatment for many diseases like cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, psoriasis, and Alzheimer’s.
But is it all really true? How should one use turmeric? Are supplements good or turmeric should be consumed directly? What is the difference between curcumin and turmeric? We often hear both these terms being used.
The following article gives you complete details about turmeric and its uses.
Turmeric for good health
Curcuma longa, is a wonderful flowering plant found mainly in India. The spice turmeric is derived from the root of that flower.
Ayurveda has used turmeric to heal various conditions of the body for 5000 years now. There is proof of turmeric being used 4500 years ago. In Asia, the residual of their cooking in pottery shards has shown the presence of turmeric.
The root if found dry. It can be used in a grated form or powdered to be used as a spice in south Asian cuisine. As a medicine, it is applied to the skin for external wounds. It was also used for allergies and colds, arthritis, digestive problems and to dissolve gallstones.
It is also used as a beautifying agent. It is used often in soaps and creams. Just before a wedding, t is applied on the skin of both the bride and the groom even today. This tradition is still followed in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to provide good luck to the new bride and groom and also to make them appear more beautiful.
How are curcumin and turmeric related?
Very often, the terms curcumin and turmeric are used interchangeably. It is leading to a lot of confusion. Every spice, including turmeric contains a lot of compounds. Curcumin is the most abundant and important compound of turmeric. It is also the most widely studied component of turmeric. Curcumin is also found in ginger.
Most of the studies that have been done until now, have been done on curcumin, and not on turmeric as a whole. Thus, a lot of misleading information is available on the net regarding turmeric and its health benefits.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has said that turmeric does not have any health benefits. This is because turmeric cannot be patented as it is found in all the households commonly. Therefore there are no financial benefits to anyone researching on turmeric. Curcumin, on the other hand, is a compound derived from turmeric. It may have the effect of drugs more than a spice.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
All the studies have been conducted on curcumin. It has been shown to help many diseases. It can be used to treat depression, diabetes, arthritis pain, allergies,break up brain plagues of alzheimer’s and decrease the risk of having a heart attack.
Turmeric has many compounds in it. Around 20 of them have antibiotic, anti-tumor, anti-cancer, about 10 anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Specific diseases that turmeric can be used for
It may help in preventing this mental disorder.since the villages of India regularly consume turmeric, they have the lowest rate of alzheimer’s in the world. More than 200 compounds of turmeric are being studied for their health benefits.
One of them is turmerone. It is known to improve thinking, productivity,stimulate production of neurons, helps the brain to repair itself and improve mood. It could be used to treat many degerative brain disorders., stroke and brain injuries.
It is a very common disease. A lot of money is spent in the USA every year to find natural treatments for inflammatory conditions. Since turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help people with arthritis. It can be applied externally or consumed.
It can relieve pain and improve the function of the joints affected with the disease. About 0.5 to 1.0 gram of turmeric can be consumed directly per day. It can be taken as a capsule too. One capsule of 400-600g can be taken three times a day.
Curcumin can be used to treat cancer. It kills only the tumor cells, leaving the healthy cells untouched. It can also be used to improve the efficacy of radiation and chemotherapy. It has been shown that turmeric taken as part of food is more beneficial than the supplements or when consumed directly.
Depression can also be treated with turmeric. It reduces the level of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. It increases the levels of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. It is better than Prozac at treating depression. Prozac is the drug prescribed by doctors.
This is very good news. Those who suffer from side effects or who have not found any relief from drugs can now use turmeric. Turmeric can also be used in combination with other natural treatment methods.
How to enhance the efficacy of turmeric
Curcumin is not absorbed by the body easily. It can easily pass through the intestine without being used. To enhance the effect or turmeric, it should be used along with pepper. Pepper has a compound called pipperine, which can increase the absorption of turmeric in the body by 2000%.
The bioavailability of turmeric is also enhanced when used with cooking oil.this is because turmeric is fat soluble. Fortunately, in India, this is the traditional way of cooking.
To have enough of turmeric into your system, you can try drinking turmeric tea. Just boil water with turmeric for 10 min. Its solubility goes up by 12 times. The people of Okinawa, japan drink lots of turmeric tea. They are one of the oldest living people on earth. Their average life span is 81.2 years.
How To Make Turmeric Tea
Take turmeric- half spoon and a cup of water. Boil for 10 minutes, strain and drink. It is better to enjoy it because most people don’t like it. It tastes bitter, almost like a medicine.
The following is a recipe that tastes good and is also healthy. The absorption of turmeric increases due to the presence of coconut oil. Coconut oil contains brain healthy fats.
Liquid Gold – Turmeric Tea
- Turmeric powder- ½ tsp
- Coconut milk-1/2 cup
- Water- ½ cup
- Coconut oil-1 tbsp
- Stevia or honey
- Boil the water.
- Add turmeric to it. Let it boil for 10 minutes.
- Add coconut oil and coconut milk.
- Heat it.
- Add honey or stevia according to your taste.
Add the ingredients in the amount that suits your taste. You can keep experimenting with the quantities till you find what suits you the best. You can also use regular or almond milk instead of coconut milk. Ghee can also be used. Basically, a healthy fat option should be used.
Dosage of turmeric
Turmeric can be bought as a powder or root. It looks like ginger. Ginger is from the turmeric family.
The amount of turmeric that be taken is :
- Tincture (1:2) 15-30 drops, 4 times per day
- 15-30 drops, 4 times per day
- Fluid extract (1:1): 30-90 drops per day
- Cut root: 1.5-3 grams per day
- powder supplement: 400-600 mg, 3 times per day.
When you are not used of how much to take, check the labels.
Side effects of turmeric supplements
Turmeric is mostly safe to consume. It does not cause any side effects. It can cause kidney stones in those who are prone to having it. But turmeric supplements can have health risks. They can cause side effects and provide early warning against its use.
Curcumin and turmeric are not the same. The following are the times when one should avoid taking both curcumin and turmeric:
- when you have any problem related to the gall bladder. It can worsen the condition.
- When you have hormonal problems. Turmeric can mimic estrogen. So avoid using it if you have cancer of the reproductive organs.
- If you are trying to have a baby. Turmeric can add to your reproductive problems.
- Never take it when you are pregnant. It increases the risk of miscarriage. It is still not known if it can be used while breastfeeding.
- Do not use it along with medicines like aspirin, warfarin, naproxen, diclofenac, ibuprofen,etc. it can increase bleeding.
- If you are going to undergo any surgery within 2 weeks. It can increase bleeding.
- If you are suffering from stomach problems like GERD.it can worsen the conditions like nausea, diarrhea and gastric irritation.
- When you are having medicines like zantac, nexium and tagamet. It increases stomach acidity rather than reducing it.
- When you are deficient of iron. It can drop the levels further.
- About 70 drugs show an adverse relation to turmeric.
Benefits of Turmeric – The Bottom Line
Turmeric has long been used for its health benefits. Supplements and capsules have also been available. But they are not as useful to the body as natural turmeric. They cause a lot of side effects as well. Thus, it is best to use turmeric powder. Just use it nicely in your cooking and that is enough to keep you safe from diseases.
If you feel that turmeric is not suiting you and your taste buds, you can go for turmeric supplements, and if it is still not good enough, then try curcumin supplements. But be careful of side effects and negative interactions.