Turmeric is an herb native to southeast India and is used as a spice in Indian cooking. The rhizomes are boiled, dried in hot ovens, and ground into a yellow-orange powder. It is also used to add color to curries, for dyeing cloth, and giving color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin is not well-absorbed by the body.
You should eat black pepper along with turmeric because it contains piperine that increases the absorption of curcumin by 2000%. Since turmeric contains only 2% curcumin by weight, it is more effective to ingest a curcumin supplement.
1. Prevents Alzheimer’s disease.
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin may be able to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by breaking down the amyloid plaques in the brain that lead to this disease. Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and it ensures that blood vessels do not get clogged, and all parts of the brain receive adequate oxygen supply. Thus, the brain functions properly and is less prone to disease.
According to a study published in Ayu in 2012, the intake of turmeric powder capsules caused an improvement in the behavioral symptoms of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Curcumin has been shown to increase the levels of a molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that acts like a growth hormone. Low levels of BDNF are said to cause depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
According to research studies, turmeric has been shown to reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. It also prevents the oxidation of bad cholesterol, which leads to atherosclerosis. Thus, it prevents the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes.
A study reported that people undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery had a 65% lowered risk of getting a heart attack if they ingested 4 grams of curcumin every day, for a few days before and after surgery.
3. Fights inflammatory diseases.
The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin helps treat inflammatory diseases such as uveitis (inflammation of the eye), ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), and multiple sclerosis.
A study using a formula containing turmeric has shown that it is also effective in reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis.
The mechanism of action of curcumin is blockage of NF-kB, a molecule that switches on genes related to inflammation. Many chronic diseases are caused by the action of NF-kB.
4. Prevents cancer.
Curcumin has been shown to have an anti-tumor effect. It reduces the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), the spread of cancerous cells from the point of origin (metastasis), and causes the death of cancerous cells (apoptosis).
A study conducted in 2006 showed that curcumin was capable of preventing the growth of human colon cancer cells. Another study conducted in New Jersey showed that curcumin can help treat prostate cancer when combined with broccoli and cauliflower. It is also said to prevent childhood leukemia, multiple myeloma, skin cancer, breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
5. Treats indigestion.
Curcumin treats indigestion and reduces abdominal bloating and gas. It stimulates the secretion of bile from the gall bladder. Thus, fat is digested properly. This may also help maintain a healthy weight.
6. Beneficial for diabetics.
Research suggests that turmeric causes a drop in blood sugar levels. In humans, it may improve the activity of insulin and control the release of glucose in the blood stream.
7. Prevents colds and flu.
Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, it has been shown to fight bacterial and viral infections that cause common cold and flu.
8. Treats symptoms of arthritis.
Curcumin has shown to be even more potent that regular anti-inflammatory drugs, without the side effects. It has been reported to improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis such as inflammation of joints.
9. Treats depression.
A study in which patients suffering from depression were given curcumin versus Prozac reported that curcumin was effective as an anti-depressant. Curcumin increases the levels of BNDF, which prevents depression. It also increases the level of neurotransmitters in the brain, serotonin and dopamine.
10. Delays ageing.
Curcumin prevents oxidative damage in the body and fights inflammatory diseases. Thus, it plays a part in delaying the process of ageing.