A world without spices would be a boring world, to say the least. It would also be a world with less beneficial natural supplements. Spices are packed with a multitude of health benefits. Among them, turmeric stands out as one of the most effective nutritional supplements humanity has access to. The superpower of turmeric comes from curcumin, its active ingredient responsible for its beautiful yellow color and plethora of benefits.
Turmeric is harvested from tall flowering plants that grow in India and other regions of Southeast Asia. However, the condiment on your shelf is made only from the plant’s roots. The spice is famous all around the world for its vibrant color that brings your curry to life. Ayurvedic medicine believes that turmeric can fight chronic pain and inflammations, as well as prevent Alzheimer’s diseases and slow down the aging process. And its belief is justified! Here are a few of the health benefits associated with eating turmeric:
Untreated inflammation can cause chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. Turmeric may be the one that takes all the glory when it comes to health benefits but its magical compound curcumin is the one that does almost all the anti-inflammatory job. Curcumin is the ingredient that fights the action of inflammatory molecules. Moreover, turmeric can contribute to the efficient treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and pancreatitis. Some say that it is even more efficient than ibuprofen and aspirin in the fight against inflammation and pain.
Increases the body’s antioxidant capacity
A fierce scavenger of free radicals, the molecules to blame for the body cell damages, turmeric fights against oxidative damage. Too much exposure to free radicals, caused by environmental pollutants, can cause several diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Turmeric’s active compound, curcumin, protects the body from free radicals and boosts its antioxidant enzymes. Due to its antioxidant power, it can prevent and help manage heart disease, as well as reduce the risk of glaucoma and other eye conditions.
Improves brain function
Although it was believed that neurons could divide and multiply only during early childhood, recent research has proven that neurons are actually capable to multiply in certain areas of the brain long after childhood. The hormone responsible for their continuous multiplication is BDNF, a neurotrophic factor derived from the brain. It seems that many brain disorders are associated with decreased levels of BDNF, a growth hormone that can be influenced by curcumin. Studies show that curcumin can increase BDNF levels which results in delaying or even reversing age-related brain diseases. This means that turmeric can be a trusted ally against Alzheimer’s disease due to its ability to clear amyloid plaques, a key feature of the disease.
Helps treat depression
Depression, just like Alzheimer’s, is linked to low levels of BDNF. Since turmeric has an impact on BDNF and increases its levels, it can also be considered a weapon against depression. A study of 60 patients showed that turmeric has antidepressant effects and can become an effective treatment for depressive disorder. Although the initial results are encouraging, there is more work to be done to establish the antidepressant effects of curcumin on humans. However, considering all the other health benefits associated with turmeric, there’s no harm in eating more turmeric to boost our mood.
Prevents and fights cancer
One of turmeric’s most appreciated properties is its power to prevent and fight cancer. Cancer is often linked with inflammation. Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory property could also extend to preventing and reducing the spread of cancer. Currently investigated in various clinical trials, turmeric has been proved to fight cancer by killing cancerous cells. However, there have been some side effects, like diarrhea, headaches, and nausea, reported at patients with cancer who were exposed to turmeric treatments.
Improves skin health
Considering its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, there’s no surprise that turmeric may do wonders for your skin. Curcumin is also a powerful antimicrobial agent and can be used as a safe and effective treatment for psoriasis, acne, and eczema. In this case, turmeric should be used as part of treatments applied locally. While its effects are very much appreciated, the poor solubility, poor stability at a high pH, and not exactly appealing color are not positioning turmeric among the most popular skin treatments recommended by dermatologists.