Turmeric, It’s More Than Just A Spice!

Turmeric has recently become the hottest new alternative therapy in today’s society.  So, what is the deal with turmeric? What can you actually use it for? How does it help the human body?

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and is traditionally used in curries, tea, cosmetics, preservatives, and a coloring agent.  Asian cultures have used turmeric for hundreds of years as a medical herb due to it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies have concluded that turmeric is the most effective supplement in existence.  

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric is responsible for these health benefits. However, the turmeric plant only contains about 3% Curcumin.  It is more beneficial to take turmeric as a supplement because it has a high curcumin content, and also contains peperine to help increase the absorption of the curcumin by up to 2000%

 

What does Curcumin actually do?

  • Demonstrates activity at the cellular level of molecules
  • Improves system markers of oxidative stress
  • Increases serum activities of anti-oxidants
  • Neutralizes free radicals in the body
  • Fights inflammation at the molecular level
  • Blocks/reduces factors that are key players in chronic inflammation

 

How can Turmeric help the body?

  • Turmeric matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs without the side effects of NSAIDS.
    • Recent studies have shown that patients with mild to moderate OA reported improvements in pain levels, stiffness, and physical function.
  • Encourages healthy cholesterol levels
    • Studies report reducing total cholesterol by 11.63% and increasing “Good” cholesterol by 29% when taking turmeric regularly.
  • Anti-aging powerhouse- fights oxidative damage and boosts the overall look of the skin
  • Improves digestion and stimulates the gallbladder to help breakdown fats
  • Decreases the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to obesity
  • Helps to lower fasting blood glucose levels
  • Boosts brain neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, which help reduce depression and enhancement your mood  
  • Improves performance on sustained attention and working memory tasks
  • Helps lessen the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
  • Decreases chronic inflammation involved with many other conditions and disease

 

Recent studies have also started to look at the use of turmeric in fighting degenerative processes in the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.  Current research is also starting to look at how turmeric can help prevent the spread and development of cancer cells. The results of these studies remain unknown at this time.  

As with any medications and supplements, there are side effects to taking turmeric.  Some of these side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased blood clotting

 

The FDA is considering Turmeric “Generally Recognized as Safe”.  But, as with any alternative therapies and medications, please talk to your doctor before including turmeric supplements into your daily regimen.  

-Ashley Rolley, PT, DPT

 

References

  • Cucumin: A Review of It’s Effects on Human Health. Foods. October 2017.
  • Tumeric For Health: 100 Amazing and Unexpected Uses for Turmeric.  Britt Brandon, CFNS, CPT. 2016. Adams Media.

 

 

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