Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the most effective traditional remedies in modern medicine with an impressive list of health benefits. Grown and cultivated in India and South East Asia, these aromatic roots come from the curcuma longa plant and are among the most potent healing herbs in alternative medicine. Owing to the numerous health benefits of turmeric, specialists of Ayurvedic medicine define it as a powerful anti-inflammatory and it has been used for over 3000 years to treat diseases and countless other health conditions. Luckily, we don’t have to travel to the Far East to experience how turmeric benefits health. Its active ingredient curcumin is available online or in natural medicine shops as a supplement in the form of capsules or tablets. While an excellent source of nutrition and delicious addition to many foods, fresh ground turmeric roots and powder has a lower bioavailability than a supplement which contains its extract. However, there are myriad uses for turmeric in Asian cuisine for adding flavor, spice, and color to food.

What is Turmeric Good For?

A search online reveals that several Ayurvedic herbs in addition to turmeric benefit our overall health. Turmeric is good for treating a wide range of conditions. Thus raises the million-dollar question about this highly discussed herb–what is turmeric used for? Turmeric benefits the entire body. It has an inexhaustible list of benefits for physical health and wellness and uses for turmeric range from beautifying the skin to detoxifying the liver. Tumeric for pain related to inflammation is used freely in Ayurvedic medicine.

In addition, turmeric benefits mental health. Several studies demonstrate its effectiveness in treating mental illnesses, such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease. While Western allopathic medicine is useful in diagnosing certain illnesses, its ability to treat or prevent disease holistically and safely is less successful. A growing number of people refuse to acquiesce to the band-aid effect many pharmaceuticals have on health conditions, especially in light of what scientific research on traditional medicines expose: Herbal treatments can be as effective as synthetic drugs for treating some diseases and with few or no side effects. An herb such as turmeric benefits the body dramatically by aiding in the prevention of some illnesses.

Turmeric uses the help of black pepper extract bioperine to boost its effectiveness and increase its bioavailability. Studies have shown that supplements with 95 % curcumin and bioperine can enhance absorption in the body up to a whopping 2000 %. Although the root and powder of turmeric benefit our culinary endeavors, a pure, organic supplement is necessary to achieve the full range of health benifits of tumeric–the wondrous golden herb. Curcumin 500 mg pills, three times per day is a typical adult therapeutic dose but as with any health supplement, you should consult with a qualified health care practitioner to know what is right for you.

What are the Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin?

What does turmeric do for the body exactly and why is turmeric good for you? To understand how turmeric curcumin benefits health and why it is nature’s most powerful herbal medicine and nutritional supplement, we must realize the effects of inflammation and free radicals on the body. Its active ingredient curcumin, not only reduces inflammation and protects the body with powerful antioxidants, but it also has an important role in preventing chronic inflammation and free radicals from attacking the body in the first place. But first, let’s find out what inflammation is, how it both aids and harms the body, and the ways turmeric benefits and responds to it.
turmeric drink

The Role of Inflammation in Disease

Inflammation occurs in the body in response to trauma. White blood cells release chemicals to the injured tissues to defend against foreign stimuli. Increased blood flow causes warmth, redness, heat, and pain–symptoms of inflammation, to promote healing. Indeed, pain that results from inflamed and wounded tissue has a psychological effect that motivates our practical response to injury and trauma, such as applying a compress. Inflammation is the body’s initial immune response to injury and healing would be impossible without it. Turmeric benefits injured tissue by alleviating pain and inflammation.

While acute inflammation is the body’s necessary and natural curative response, persistent inflammation has the opposite effect. In fact, chronic, low-level inflammation has a role in almost every human disease. Prolonged, low-grade inflammation puts our bodies in a state of perpetual emergency as they work overtime to heal themselves. Inflammatory cells build up in the blood vessels and promote the accumulation of harmful plaque. This continued stress has been shown to cause lasting damage to our vital organs–the very parts of our body that keep us alive. Turmeric benefits and promotes healthy blood circulation to reduce this build up.

We can achieve optimal health by avoiding toxic substances that encourage inflammation and maintaining a lifestyle that actively prevents chronic inflammation. Consuming therapeutic amounts of turmeric benefits the body’s healing powers by reducing inflammation.

So what causes chronic inflammation? While common belief makes certain diseases the culprit, biology demonstrates that it’s the other way around. Though a variety of factors are known to contribute to inflammation, one of the leading causes is free radical activity. Read on for a definition of free radicals and discover how turmeric benefits the body by protecting it from these damaging agents.

Free radicals form when cellular bonds split and leave a molecule with an unpaired electron–a process called oxidation. Because they’re unstable in nature, free radicals attempt to connect with other compounds for the necessary electron, causing a chain reaction that can wreak havoc on the body. Our bodies naturally produce free radicals as part of the metabolic process and in response to certain bacteria and viruses. If we’re healthy, we can resist their damage. But external factors, such as pollution and radiation, decrease our fighting power and cause the production of more free radicals. Turmeric benefits us with its powerful antioxidant properties that defend against free radicals.

With prolonged exposure, this assault by free radicals on the body’s cells causes tissue damage and inflammation. Free radicals are both a cause and result of inflammation. This cyclical, biological interaction harm the body’s cells causing extended stress and overtime and can lead to degenerative diseases.

To maintain health, we need to reduce any substance that encourages an inflammatory response and free radical activity within our cells. While exposure to toxins is impossible to avoid entirely, limiting our interactions with elements or activities that cause the formation of free radicals can lower our risk of disease. Unless we’re living a purely sattvic (pure) lifestyle, we need some extra help from Mother Nature. Luckily, her golden herb turmeric benefits our body’s response to toxins like no other.

How Does Curcumin Counteract Inflammation?

Widely promulgated as one of the most powerful natural supplements, curcumin has bioactive compounds, potent medicinal uses, and possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Antioxidants are naturally-occurring substances that inhibit the propagation of scavenging free radicals and assist in reducing inflammation. While vitamins A, C, and E are nutritional sources of antioxidants, curcumin is rich in these age-fighting molecules and the therapeutic use of turmeric benefits the body’s own production of antioxidants. While many antioxidant-rich foods can also neutralize free radicals, curcumin goes a step further and stimulates the body’s antioxidant-making mechanisms to encourage self-healing. Reducing both oxidation and inflammation are important in minimizing the risk of heart disease and many other illnesses. In an organic supplement, turmeric benefits the body’s defenses against oxidation.

This powerful bioactive compound is also believed to have anti-aging health benefits. Both inflammation and free radicals play a part in aging as the body’s ability to defend itself weakens. Turmeric benefits our potential to fight age-related diseases. Because of curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich properties, a regular dose of a high-quality curcumin supplement with bioperine (peperine, or black pepper extract) may reduce the signs of premature aging as effectively as it can help prevent disease. Indeed, turmeric benefits holistic health and can even prevent the occurrence of disease–and more.

Main Benefits of Turmeric 

We know that turmeric benefits the body’s inflammatory response. Curcumin can actively minimize our risk of disease by reducing and preventing inflammation in the body. Some studies have demonstrated that it’s as effective as many medical anti-inflammatories, including ibuprofen, especially in treating chronic, degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis. Combined with a vitamin-rich diet low in processed foods and keeping a healthy lifestyle, turmeric benefits nearly every body system. In addition, Ayurvedic experts regard it as an emotional healer because of its cleansing effect on the liver. Indeed, the list of benefits of tumeric is quite long.

 

CLEANSES THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

One of the primary contributors in a poorly functioning digestive system is an unclean colon. In addition to other Ayurvedic herbs like triphala, turmeric benefits intestinal health. Active ingredient curcumin stimulates circulation in the colon, aiding the elimination of waste to improve overall digestion. It is also a natural diuretic that can drain excess body fluid. Scientific evidence suggests that turmeric benefits and aids in the prevention of abnormal cell growth. In a 2011 study that investigated the efficacy of curcumin in preventing colorectal cancer, researchers studied 44 men with potentially cancerous lesions in the colon. A treatment of four grams of curcumin per day reduced the number of lesions by 40%. Inflammatory conditions like hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in the anus and most common in vata and pitta types, can upset the healthy functioning of the digestive system. In order to treat hemorrhoids, agni–our digestive fire–must be improved by consuming the right dietary spices. Aromatic turmeric benefits digestion. Its active ingredient curcumin enhances agni and reduces swelling of the muscle tissue that surrounds hemorrhoids. Ayurvedic expert David Frawley recommends applying a curcumin paste or cream locally for topical treatment of hemorrhoids. Turmeric benefits disorders of the digestive system and may also be used as an enema to treat irritable bowel syndrome. In supplement form, concentrated curcumin extract is effective in weight management, specifically in treating obesity. Turmeric benefits the body’s ability to reduce fat. Obesity is characterized by chronic, low-grade metabolic inflammation. Scientific research on the effects of curcumin on obesity reveals that it can suppress chronic inflammation of adipose tissue that leads to excessive weight gain. It is coined the “fat-reducing herb” in popular Ayurvedic literature for good reason.

PROTECTS THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM AND STIMULATES CIRCULATION

Several studies have reported turmeric benefits and protects the cardiovascular system, particularly in treating high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and heart attacks. In their book, Curcumin and Cardiovascular Diseases (2013), Jana & Swarnakar review the multitude of scientific studies that investigated the health benefit of turmeric on cardiovascular health. In particular, controlled clinical studies have demonstrated how turmeric benefits the body by reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, likely owed to its circulatory-stimulant and anticoagulant properties. Research has shown that turmeric benefits blood cholesterol levels. Regular intake of curcumin for three months has been shown to reduce overall cholesterol, specifically low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides in overweight people. Because of its anticoagulant properties, curcumin can also reduce the risk of blood clotting and may be used to treat anemia in any of the three doshas. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric benefits soft tissue healing and can be used like aloe to treat wounds and prevent scarring. Local application of the fresh root or in the form of a cream can speed healing and reduce inflammation in many sports-related injuries, such as strained muscles and joints.

ALLEVIATES REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM DISORDERS

In addition to the long list of turmeric benefits for promoting overall health, this golden herb supports male and female reproductive health. A source of phytoestrogen (estrogen obtained from a plant), curcumin has an especially therapeutic effect on female reproductive system disorders. It is an excellent alternative to conventional painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories in the treatment of back pain and body aches common before and during menstruation. In addition to how tumeric benefits pain management, including headache, it also has no adverse side effects like many conventional drugs. Curcumin may be used as an emmenagogue–a substance that promotes menstruation because it stimulates blood circulation. All doshas can benefit from a curcumin supplement to naturally alleviate premenstrual symptoms, including abdominal cramping that results from intrauterine contractions. Turmeric benefits and supports the treatment of both amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea, as well as severe conditions that may affect reproductive health. For example, curcumin therapy may assist in the treatment of endometriosis, which is primarily kapha in nature, when combined with an anti-kapha diet rich in freshly cooked, easily-digestible organic foods that are lightly spiced. In addition, turmeric benefits vaginal cleansing and can be used as a douche to help reduce leucorrhea. For men, curcumin has been shown to benefit the prostate gland, particularly in attenuating inflammation, and it may assist therapeutically in the treatment of prostate cancer. Studies even show promising results that turmeric benefits erectile dysfunction and may protect testicular health from the carcinogenic effects of environmental toxins.

DETOXIFIES THE LIVER

The liver is one of our most vital organs. Without a healthy functioning liver, disease can develop and spread quickly throughout the body. Its role is to continuously filter out toxins, aid digestion, synthesize protein, and regulate the storage and release of glycogen–energy sourced from unused glucose. Although it is, by nature, one of the most resilient parts of the body, toxic substances such as drugs and alcohol may overtax and weaken its healthy functioning. Turmeric benefits liver health because curcumin is a potent detoxifying agent that cleanses and rejuvenates the blood and the liver. It is also useful in the treatment of herpes and skin disorders. According to the Eastern Ayurvedic view, beyond the physical body is the astral, or subtle body which contains our prana, emotions, and thought. In Ayurveda, the liver is connected to our emotional health. It is a storehouse of fiery emotions such as anger, resentment, and hate. Indeed, some of our metabolic fire agni resides in the liver–our organ of transformation. Our ability to manage complicated feelings and our responses to them may reflect the health status of our liver and should be regularly monitored. Owing to its natural spice and significant amount of the ether element, turmeric benefits our astral body and emotional health by clearing the body’s energy channels in conjunction with pranayama (yogic breath control). In addition to using supplements, dietary turmeric benefits our health in fresh, raw form. Frawley recommends it as part of a general, effective detox formula that includes gentian, barberry, and curcumin in equal parts. Watch and take note of the following video on turmeric benefits, where nutrition and diet authority, Thomas DeLauer details how to use turmeric for health conditions and explains how it lowers blood sugar levels, burns fat, and contributes to weight loss. He provides a comprehensive explanation of the wide range of nutritional tumeric uses. If you’re interested in hearing about the benefits of other ayurvedic herbs click here.

Additional Benefits

Curcumin may be used as a complementary cancer treatment because it stimulates circulation, breaks stagnation, reduces masses, and aids tissue healing at the molecular level. Scientific evidence suggests that curcumin benefits the prevention of cancer growth, especially in the digestive system. Because it is a fat-reducing herb, a supplement is also beneficial in the treatment of benign tumors and cysts.

When used in a preparation of ghee, turmeric benefits certain respiratory conditions such as pitta-type laryngitis.

Regular use of curcumin may help to alleviate urinary tract infections. In the initial stages of diabetes, 1-3 grams, two to three times daily, combined with aloe may have a positive effect in preventing the progression of diabetes.

Some studies have demonstrated that turmeric benefits brain health by boosting the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) growth hormone that stimulates neural connections. Low levels of this hormone are associated with cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s and depression. Curcumin has been shown to increase BDNF, which may delay or reverse diseases related to brain dysfunction. There is also evidence to suggest that curcumin can encourage the release of dopamine and serotonin.

In an initial study that assessed the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers found significant improvement. In fact, curcumin delivered benefits higher than patients who were administered known chemical anti-inflammatories, without any adverse side effects.

Given all the evidence, it’s clear that the health benefits of tumeric travel far and wide throughout the body.

feeling free

Contradictions and Side Effects

Unlike many pharmaceuticals, turmeric benefits several health conditions without adverse effects. Few side effects have been reported with regular use of a supplement. An excessive dose may cause stomach upset or diarrhea and should only be consumed under the advice of a physician. Before taking any herbal supplements or turmeric pill, seek the advice of a doctor. Choose one specializing in Ayurveda to ascertain the right dosage and preparation for your constitution and health condition and to reap all the benefits of turmeric supplements.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take a turmeric supplement because it stimulates the uterus and promotes menstruation, which may lead to miscarriage or premature birth. In cooked food, it is unlikely to produce any such effect but air on the side of caution and consult a qualified health specialist before consumption.

People with diabetes or problems with bleeding should consult a doctor before taking turmeric pills as they may slow blood clotting and reduce blood sugar to a harmful level.

Turmeric benefits the circulatory system because they are natural blood thinners. However, they should not be taken with anticoagulants or antiplatelets that slow blood clotting, especially two weeks before scheduled surgery.

So, What Do You Do Now With All This Turmeric Info?

Inflammation is a critical factor in the development of disease. Toxins, trauma, and stress incite our body’s inflammatory response to promote healing and prevent further injury. However, long-term exposure to free radical forming contaminants can cause premature aging, chronic, low-grade inflammation, and promote the growth of various diseases throughout the body. There is no way to avoid pollutants in our modern lifestyle but personally managing your physical and emotional health can go a long way in preventing many illnesses and grave health conditions. In addition to a clean diet, time spent in nature, and activities to promote relaxation and reduce stress, herbal supplements have been shown to decrease the body’s risk of disease.

Turmeric benefits nearly every body system. It is widely known as nature’s most powerful healing herb because it can reduce inflammation and strengthen the body’s ability to fight disease-producing substances. Evidence-based findings show that when taken in proper doses and specific preparations, curcumin can aid in the treatment and prevention of a variety of illnesses. It should come as no surprise that this miraculous golden root from India has such widespread uses and receives such positive regard in naturopathic medicine. With 3000+ years of experiential evidence supporting turmeric health benefits, we can all use this supplement regularly to reduce our risk of disease. When such a potent herbal remedy like this exists, with very few side effects, why not make turmeric curcumin supplementation a regular part of your daily health regimen?

For information on Jiva Botanicals Turmeric supplements or other ayurvedic products head to JivaBotanicals.com/

To follow our bliss and dive deeply into the mysteries of fragrance, color, and taste; blend with the magnificent diversity of mother nature; and follow the inner signs to become aware of who we really are – is the Alchemy of Ayurvedic Cookery.

– Prana Gogia

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