Turmeric is a staple of Indian cuisine and medicine. It should also be a staple in your herbal closet as an overall health tonic for supporting improved liver, gallbladder and digestive functions. Women in India are often praised for their beautiful skin, and they, in turn, praise Turmeric as the reason for it. Turmeric is a warming herb that helps to stimulate circulation and support cardiac health. Try it for the relief of aches and pains of sore joints, arthritis and rheumatism. More importantly, Turmeric is now the subject of many university, hospital and research studies that show great promise in the treatment of malignant diseases, including those involving prostate, colon, esophagus, pancreas and breast.
The History of Turmeric- How it all began:
Turmeric (also known as Curcumin) is an herbaceous perennial that is a native of India and southern and eastern Asia. It thrives in loose, alluvial, well-drained soil in full sun, growing to a height of about three feet. The plant has a slightly acrid taste (somewhat like ginger) and is a warming herb that has been used as a spice by Indian cooks to flavor food for thousands of years (it is the main ingredient in Curry).
Turmeric has been cultivated in China and Malaysia, and has also spread to Australia, Central and South America, the West Indies and Africa. The herb has been around for at least four thousand years in the folk medicinal literature of India, where it was called haridra in the ancient Sanskrit, the classical standard language of India many centuries ago, and the herb figured prominently in the earliest system of Indian medicine, dating back to about 3000 B. C. Turmeric is thought to be a symbol of prosperity and is revered as a prized charm in India, where small pieces are frequently suspended around the necks of newborn babies for protection.
It was (and is) considered a very important herb in Ayurvedic medicine (in fact, the centerpiece) and was used for its aromatic, stimulant and carminative properties. Turmeric continues to be used in India to treat anorexia, liver disorders, cough, diabetic wounds, rheumatism and sinusitis. There are interesting developments on the horizon regarding the use of natural herbals in the fight against prostate cancer. Rutgers University scientists injected laboratory mice with Turmeric (also called Curcumin) and PEITC (phenethyl isothiocyanate), which is found naturally in cruciferous vegetables (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, etc.) – after introducing human prostate cancer cells into the animals – either alone or in tandem.
Researchers reported that when Turmeric or PEITC was injected separately in new cancerous tumors, the growth of the tumors was retarded, but in well-established tumors, there was little effect. However, when the combination of Turmeric/Curcumin and PEITC was injected in combination, the results produced even stronger effects and significantly reduced tumor growth. The botanical genus, Curcuma, and its common names, Curcuma and Curcumin, are derived from the Arabic, kurkum, which means “saffron,” referring to the herb’s deep yellow/orange hue, and aside from its important service to herbal medicine and cuisine, Turmeric is also a rich yellow and orange dye and natural food coloring.
It is an important pigment for dyeing silk and wool and provides the intense and brilliant orange color for the robes of Buddhist monks. Some of the constituents in Turmeric include curcumin (its principal active ingredient), demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin (which are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds), a volatile oil, gum, starch, calcium chloride, fiber, caffeic-, cinnamic-, p-coumaric- and other acids, limonene, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, beta-carotene, B-vitamins and vitamin C.
The Benefits of Turmeric:
- Promotes healthy liver: Turmeric (often also called Curcumin) is considered vital therapy for the liver. In ancient Ayurvedic medicine, the herb was a key therapy for good liver health, and in traditional Chinese medicine, Turmeric is still used regularly to treat liver and gallbladder problems. Today’s research claims that this warming herb protects liver cells, and its curcumin content is beneficial for treating liver disease and may reverse liver damage caused by very excessive iron consumption and alcohol. Turmeric is known to increase bile production and boost the production of enzymes that digest sugar and fat and, thereby, may inhibit cholesterol from crystallizing into gallstones.
- Promotes weight loss: Turmeric boosts the production of enzymes that digest sugar and fat, it is said to cut fat from the blood and may be helpful in weight loss regimens. Indian healers have used Turmeric for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to control weight problems.
- Promotes healthy digestion: Turmeric has a long and venerable history as a warming herb that helps to stimulate the digestive tract and improve digestion. Its mild aromatic properties have been used for thousands of years to stop stomach irritation when not overused. The exact mechanism is not entirely understood, but modern research confirms that the herb does protect gastric mucosa, helping to ease indigestion and other digestive problems. It is known to reduce intestinal gas formation and acts as a fine carminative, helping to expel intestinal gas. This warming herb is also thought to stimulate the appetite and is sometimes used to treat anorexia.
- Beneficial for people suffering from rheumatism and arthritis: Turmeric is a potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that has been very beneficial in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis.
- Helps improve inflammation and pain: The curcumin content in Turmeric apparently deactivates immune cells that may cause inflammation, without harming other parts of the immune system that are essential in fighting infection. It is said to curtail inflammation of both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis and reduces swelling in recent bruises, wounds and insect bites. It is considered to help relieve pain helpful for easing muscle pains and sports injuries, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and bursitis.
- Supports healthy heart function and better circulation: Turmeric is said to improve blood vessel health and stimulate the entire circulatory system. The curcumin content is considered a vasodilator that helps to relax blood vessels, which helps to regulate blood pressure, thereby possibly lessening a risk of heart attack. It can reduce tissue damage during an attack. Additionally, Turmeric appears to lower serum cholesterol in the blood and to diminish platelet aggregation (blood clotting), which also helps to combat arteriosclerosis.
- Helps colds, coughs and congestion: As a warming stimulant, Turmeric enhances the respiratory system and is often used to relieve head colds, sinusitis and coughs, and ease chest congestion.
- Helps with Menstrual problems: Turmeric has helped ease the discomforts of women’s monthly menstruation and regulate its flow.
- Help with uterine problems: It has also been called a uterine stimulant and has been thought to be helpful in managing uterine problems.
- Stimulates immune system: Turmeric is said to stimulate the immune system, and recent research claims that it appears to effectively fight free radicals. An active ingredient in Turmeric seems to be a potent anti-mutagenic and antioxidant that scavenges and combats damage-causing free radicals and epoxides. It seems to activate and enhance the activity of the gene p53, which may reduce the risk of serious malignant colorectal and breast disease. Estrogen interacts with an anti-malignancy gene known as gene p53, which is a “molecular patrolman” that ensures that genetically defective cells do not multiply. In addition, the herb’s cell-protective properties behave in the same way as the nutrient antioxidant vitamins C and E, which are to inhibit free-radical reactions.
- Tumeric can help with cancer patients and cancer prevention: Turmeric is said to work well in conjunction with, and aid recovery after, chemotherapy drug and radiation treatments. Recent studies completed at Johns Hopkins have indicated that compounds in Turmeric (Curcumin) may, in fact, help prevent colon cancer, and we have provided the direct link to bring you up to date on this recent science: Compounds in Curry, Onions May Help Prevent Colon Cancer. Scientists from Ireland’s University College Cork Cancer Research Centre found that Turmeric (also called Curcumin), the main spice in Curry, can kill off cancer cells in lab tests. The 2009 research, which was published in the British Journal of Cancer, demonstrated that Curcumin, the active chemical in Turmeric can destroy gullet cancer cells, and the team indicated that this natural remedy started to kill cancer cells within twenty-four hours. Furthermore, the cells also began to digest themselves, after the Curcumin triggered lethal cell death signals, which opens up the possibility that natural chemicals found in Turmeric-Curcumin could be developed into new treatments for esophageal cancer. A 2008 clinical trial conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center found that consumption of Turmeric Root extract standardized for 95 percent of phenolic compounds called Curcuminoids could benefit advanced pancreatic cancer sufferers, despite slow bioavailability when taken orally. Nevertheless, in spite of limited absorption, patients demonstrated Curcumin’s biological activity, as evidenced by the anti-tumor effects on cytokine levels.
- Help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease: Turmeric, as the major ingredient in Curry, has been used quite liberally in the Indian diet, and recent research studies have suggested that the herb has the ability to reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. India has one of the lowest Alzheimer’s disease rates in the world, estimated at one percent of individuals over sixty-five; whereas, ten percent of Americans over sixty-five develop Alzheimer’s disease. Apropos of this, data from the University of California (UCLA) indicate that using vitamin D in combination with Curcumin-Turmeric may help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease because of its ability to boost the immune system and protect the brain against beta-amyloid accumulation. The buildup of plaque from beta-amyloid deposits is associated with increased brain cell damage and death from oxidative stress, a loss of cognitive function and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.
- Detoxifies the body: As an overall cleansing herb, Turmeric is thought to accelerate the detoxification process in the whole body.
- Turmeric help fight off viral infections: It is an antiviral and fights viral infection. There is some indication that Turmeric may help to inhibit HIV infection from progressing to full-blown AIDS by acting as a protease inhibitor.
- Help improve Skin conditions: It is considered an antibacterial and has been known to kill parasites, fight skin infection (acne) and improve the texture and smoothness of the skin.
- Help fight yeast infection: The herb is also said to possess antifungal properties, inhibiting yeast overgrowth.
- Increase energy: Finally, the herb appears to be an effective tonic that normalizes energy flow, enhances the immune system and improves overall good health.
- Helps fight MRSA: Pursuant to Turmeric’s actions as an antibacterial, recent information has emerged that Turmeric’s potent antibiotic qualities may be helpful in combating MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus), a particularly dangerous bacterium that may not respond to conventional pharmaceutical treatments.
Turmeric is said to work best when taken on an empty stomach.
Precautions: Individuals using blood thinners (Coumadin, etc.) should avoid Turmeric Herbal Supplement, as it may add to their anti-clotting effects. Overuse (more than the recommended dosage) is not recommended, as it may result in stomach distress. Normal therapeutic doses of Turmeric protect from ulcers, but at very high doses, it may induce ulcers. Turmeric is not recommended for persons with biliary tract obstruction, as the curcumin stimulates bile secretion. People with congestive heart failure, whose cause remains unidentified, should avoid this herb. Turmeric is not recommended for people with painful gallstones, obstructive jaundice, acute bilious colic or extremely toxic liver disorder. This is why it is very important to take only the recommended dose of this herbal remedy. Since Turmeric is considered a uterine stimulant, pregnant women should not use it. Turmeric is said to work best when taken on an empty stomach.
Important tip to remember: If you are taking other medications, refrain from taking herbal supplements without first checking with your doctor. Herbal supplements and over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs can combine to cause adverse side effects. Just because an herbal supplement is extracted from, a “natural” source does not render it any less potent than any other chemicals you may ingest.