There are many health benefits of turmeric. In the West, it is used to reduce inflammation and care for the liver, but in India, it is prescribed as a general tonic.
Turmeric is a root that is native to Southeast Asia and is the main ingredient of curry which is one of the healthiest combinations of spices.
It has an intense, bitter, and somewhat spicy aroma, with a golden yellow color that is given by curcuminoids.
These substances, together with curcumin are the main component of this wonderful root and explain its remarkable therapeutic qualities.
Before taking any whole plant or plant-made supplements, consult your doctor first, especially if you are taking any medications.
THE TURMERIC PLANT
The word turmeric comes from the Arabic word kurkum, which means yellow. In India, depending on the area, it is known as Haldi (in Hindi), Halud (in Bengal), Gauri, Haridra, or the English name, turmeric. The expression “saffron from India” is also used.
Both Indian turmeric and Java turmeric are less common but with identical culinary and medicinal properties.
In both cases, the rhizome or underground root is used, with an ocher skin and bright, dark orange pulp.
This rhizome consists of a thick part and several stubby “fingers” with which the best quality turmeric is produced.
They are perennials that grow up to three feet tall and they grow best in a hot and humid climate.
The flowers, with colors ranging from yellow to garnet, have a long tube and appear protected in a dense spike of bracts.
The entire plant is carefully lifted to prevent any damage, and the “fingers” are cut from the largest roots. Turmeric is boiled or steamed and then left to dry.
The outer shell peels off and the rough brown fingers turn orange-yellow and waxy in texture.
In addition to being a staple ingredient in curry powder, turmeric is an important seasoning in many oriental dishes.
Indian vegetarian cuisine uses it extensively in legume-based recipes.
But, apart from its culinary use, turmeric is used as a tonic and as a remedy for liver issues, while science is interested in analyzing its properties.
TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL USE
Turmeric is an essential element in the practice of Ayurveda and also in the Siddha system of traditional Indian medicine.
It is intended to treat rheumatic pain, to relieve digestive and liver issues, including jaundice, as an antidiarrheal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and energy tonic.
Turmeric is also traditionally used to disinfect wounds and is made into liniments, creams, and oils that are still prepared for different dermatological issues.
In Asia, it is combined with plants that reinforce or complement its action, such as aloe, neem, Chinese angelica, or Chinese sage.
In 1993, two American scientists, one of Indian origin, researchers from the Jackson Medical Center of the University of Mississippi filed a patent for the use of turmeric on open wounds.
It was accepted two years later and assumed that researchers were demonstrating a novel use for turmeric.
When it became known in India, it caused widespread outrage. Up to 32 tests were presented that showed that this use of turmeric was already included in ancient texts and that it was part of traditional practice.
After a tough legal battle, the United States Patent Office eventually withdrew the patent, thereby achieving the first documented victory for indigenous peoples’ interests over the power of the pharmaceutical industry.
The top four properties that turmeric is most frequently recommended for use today.
These properties have been known for thousands of years and have currently been discovered by modern science.
FIGHTS AGAINST INFLAMMATION
The roots of the plant contain curcuminoids and curcumin, which gives the coloring to the root and provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
They also contain essential oil with zingiberene, polysaccharides, and mineral salts such as iron and potassium.
Curcumin, which is not soluble in water, does have a great capacity to dissolve in fats and stimulate the secretion of bile.
For this reason, it contributes to the metabolism of fats and indirectly contributes to reducing cholesterol.
Various studies have shown its ability to reduce histamine levels in the inflammatory processes.
It acts on the modulation of eicosanoids, such as inflammatory prostaglandins, and can stimulate the activity of two enzymes, glutathione transferase, and glutathione peroxidase.
These two enzymes are responsible for regulating the body’s response to an inflammatory process, which facilitates the elimination of materials from waste.
Its use in this sense is very widespread in India, for the treatment of arthritic and arthritic processes, with the added advantage that it does not generate gastric irritation.
PROTECTS THE LIVER
Turmeric increases and thickens bile, thereby helping to digest fats, reducing liver inflammation, and allowing the liver to return to its functions of filtering the blood of toxins.
It is also very useful for liver repair in non-acute hepatitis and to prevent the formation of gallstones.
It is also known to increase the production of bile, so it is recommended to avoid it in case of biliary colic since it could contribute to increasing pain.
Due to its ability to stimulate bile flow, it is also attributed to a slight effect on LDL cholesterol.
It helps to lower its level of concentration in the blood if it is combined with other cholesterol-lowering plants.
Curcumin, assimilated into the diet, can limit the extension of fatty tissue, inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels or angiogenesis.
For this reason, it has been recommended in weight loss therapies.
Turmeric is one of many medicinal plants used to help the liver, such as dandelions and many more.
According to some authors, turmeric taken orally can reduce lipid peroxidation and oxidative damage to cells.
Thereby increasing the level of protection of the membranes of different organs.
which are the liver, but also the spleen, kidneys, or heart, before the appearance of possible pathological processes or cell aging.
In this sense, this spice is revealed as an important ally of the heart, by exerting a not inconsiderable action as an antiplatelet agent.
This can improve circulation and also help prevent strokes and arteriosclerosis, and as a support to keep blood pressure levels in check.
FOR THE SKIN
For external use, turmeric is again shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and moderate antiseptic qualities.
It is very effective in reducing inflammation with oral inflammations, infected ulcers and wounds, boils, burns, and insect bites.
In traditional Indian practice, turmeric is ground into a powder and diluted in hot milk, then gargled to relieve throat irritation, or a thicker paste is made that is applied in turn on inflamed wounds and open wounds, to promote healing.
Extracts are the subject of different studies to determine their antioxidant and anticancer fighting abilities.
HOW TO TAKE TURMERIC
Turmeric is poorly absorbed by the body when it is taken without a meal.
It has been shown that when combined with black pepper, as in so many traditional recipes from the East, it is assimilated up to two thousand times better.
AS A SPICE IN MEALS
Therefore, it is possible and advisable to benefit from its restorative effects by using it to flavor food, in soups, vegetable creams, or integrated into sauces such as curries.
Since curcumin orally is not easily assimilated, it should be eaten in a meal with some percentage of fat content, or associated with unsaturated fatty oils, such as omega-3s.
You will find fresh turmeric in more and more establishments, although you can search especially in Asian, Indian, as well as health food stores.
You can also find it as a dry, powder with a more yellowish color and a matte texture in your local grocery store.
IN SUPPLEMENT FORM
In grocery stores, herbalist shops, and some pharmacies, it can be purchased in capsule form.
In some supplements, there will also be a natural fat added for better absorption. Up to 3 or 4 grams a day is recommended.
Turmeric is also sold as a tincture. In this case, the usual daily dose is 0.5 to 1.5 ml a day or 10-15 drops a couple of times a day.
PRECAUTIONS WITH TURMERIC
Turmeric does have a few side effects, especially if ingested as a spice.
However, experts advise against consuming turmeric in high doses or for prolonged treatments, because some cases of liver damage have been reported.
Since it can stimulate menstrual flow, it is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation.
It is also not recommended to take it in case of biliary obstruction or gallstones.
On the other hand, as it exerts a discreet anticoagulant action, it is not recommended if treatments with anticoagulants and antiplatelets are being followed, to avoid possible interactions.