There’s a hype around turmeric and it’s benefits. This herb has been purported as a cure-all especially by the traditional medical system and by modern medicine.
According to research turmeric has been in use for thousands of years. It is native to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
This plant belongs to the “ginger family and its roots are used for cooking as a culinary herb and traditional medicine”. It is also used by modern medicine in the form of supplements.
This herb is used as a spice especially in Indian cuisine. It can be used “fresh or dried and ground into a powder and used as a dye and coloring agent” among other things.
It is said that Indians produce almost all the turmeric crop in the world but consume 80% of it. Indian turmeric is considered the best in the world due to the high content of curcumin present in the herb.
Curcumin is a bioactive compound that is thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and is also responsible for the deep yellow color of this herb.
Despite all these benefits present in turmeric, curcumin has been reported to have a lower level of absorption in the human body.
Some studies suggest that when it’s combined with black pepper, its absorption may be increased from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
Should turmeric be considered a superfood? Well, the proof is in the scientific evidence. We will find that out in a short while.
Turmeric Is Anti-Inflammatory and Also Increases Antioxidant Enzymes In The Body, According To Research
“An antioxidant is a compound that prevents cell oxidation caused by free radicals and is present mostly in vegetables and fruits, among other plant-based foods”. Free radicals can trigger oxidative stress and cause cell damage, according to research.
Oxidative stress is thought to “play a major part in a variety of diseases including, “metabolic syndrome, diabetes, dementia, atherosclerosis, cancer, arthritis” and other age-related diseases”
Curcumin, on the other hand, is thought to have antioxidant effects and is also anti-inflammatory as stated above.
According to research “it helps in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia
It may help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and soreness”
It is said that curcumin is not properly absorbed in the digestive tract. This is the reason for it’s “poor bioavailability as it can be quickly metabolized and eliminated from the body”
However, all is not lost, as peperine, a component found in black pepper is thought to have the ability to activate the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric so that we may benefit from this plant nutrient.
How does Turmeric Benefit Skin Health?
Everyone feels good when they have healthy and glowing skin. Turmeric with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties is thought to have a positive impact on skin health.
The skin as the largest organ of the body is reported to be the first line of defense against pathogens like bacteria and the damage due to sunlight exposure, among other factors. Click here for more information about the best foods for skin health.
“Studies have suggested that curcumin has protective effects against skin-damaging chemicals and environmental pollutants” – Medical News Today
“Curcumin protects the skin by quenching free radicals and reducing inflammation through nuclear factor-KB inhibition”
Turmeric Has Been Found To Boost Brain And Memory
According to Medical News Today, the study published in the American Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry, suggest the daily intake of the bioavailable form of curcumin, may provide brain benefits and help improve memory and attention over time in adults who doesn’t suffer from dementia.
“An eight week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study was conducted to examine the effects of curcumin in patients with schizophrenia, also assessing the BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) levels, among other things.
It was found that curcumin could increase BDNF levels and improve cognitive performance.
Turmeric May Elevate Mood And Benefit Those with Depression
Curcumin in turmeric is thought to have potential health benefits due to its inflammatory qualities and antioxidant content.
Experts say there’s a “Strong link between the inflammation in the body and depression, and that curcumin had influenced several biological mechanisms including inflammation in previous studies”
“Dr. Adrian Lopresti from the school of psychology and Exercise Science studied the effects of curcumin, the medicinal compound which gives turmeric its distinctive yellow color, in a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 56 volunteers with major depressive disorder.
Half were treated with patented curcumin extract (500 milligrams twice daily) and the other half took a placebo for eight weeks”
“From week four to eight of the study, Lopresti found that curcumin was significantly more effective than placebo in improving several mood-related symptoms in volunteers.
The compound had even greater efficacy in a small subgroup of individuals with atypical depression, which can be characterized by weight gain and increased appetite and hypersomnia” – MedicalXpress
According to Dr. Lopresti, “a strong evidence is required to recommend curcumin as the first line of treatment for depression”
Turmeric Has Been Touted As A Superfood, Does it Have Side Effects?
Turmeric has been used for thousands of years on various diseases and as a culinary spice especially in Asia and has gained popularity.
Ethiopia among other countries has adopted the use of the herb in their cuisine.
Curcumin has been touted as some kind of “superhero” “Surely it works synergistically with other phytonutrients present in the herb”
Nonetheless, “turmeric has been reported to be safe in many human studies”. It is thought to have negative side effects such as skin rash, diarrhea, yellow stool, nausea, and headache when taken in excess.
The Final Thoughts
Turmeric, a herb mostly used by Indians has been reported to have some health benefits, especially by Traditional Medical systems.
Although some research suggests that a holistic approach needs to be taken to investigate turmeric herb as a whole as opposed to just focusing on curcumin, a compound extracted from turmeric.
Nonetheless, curcumin is thought to be anti-inflammatory and is high in antioxidant that is thought to fight off oxidative stress and manage inflammation in the body.
Curcumin is said to have poor bioavailability as a result it is poorly absorbed and is quickly metabolized and eliminated from the bloodstream.
Well, despite all that, it has been suggested that when turmeric is combined with black pepper, this can increase the bioavailability of curcumin so that we may gain from its potential benefits.
It’s worth noting that curcumin is only 3% of the turmeric weight. The spice alone will not provide all the benefits mentioned above as you can only use a small amount to give your food flavor. Otherwise, participants in the study were treated with 500 mg of curcumin twice daily. Nonetheless, every bit counts.
Using too much of the herb is not ideal either given the intense color it possesses, besides too much of anything is not good.
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