Lately, this pungent orange spice has been all the rage and touted as being some sort of super spice with a vast array of healing and medicinal properties. As with most things I research lately, trying to lower and maintain my high cholesterol was what let me to look further into this turmeric craze and what’s making it so fashionable.
I once worked with a woman who told that as a child when she got sick with a cold or something similar, her grandmother would give them warm milk and turmeric and make them drink it. If they were injured she would do something completely different with the spice. Her grandmother was born and raised in India and at one point had a book of healing recipes she swore by that the village medicine man had given her.
There is such an abundance of information published on the web about this it can be absolutely overwhelming to have to sift through it all. Here are the main points from pretty much all the sources that I’ve come across:
- Turmeric DOES in fact contain certain compounds contain medicinal properties. The main/active ingredient being curcumin.
- Myriads of studies of curcumin have shown it to not only have powerful anti-inflammatory effects but also to be a very strong antioxidant.
- There is evidence in the studies that curcumin can led to changes on the molecular level as well as cross the blood-brain barrier.
- As a result of these abilities some of the wide array of benefits that have resulted are:
- Reduced arthritis symptoms
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Reduced cholesterol
- Reduced risk or atherosclerosis
- Inflammation reduction and cellular repair
- Improvements in the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease
- Digestion improvement
- Aids in depression
The list goes on and on about the benefits of this spice. However, most of the studies are performed using extracts of turmeric that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages often exceeding 1 gram per day. It is highly unlikely that one would be able to achieve these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.
I have not yet purchased any turmeric supplements as of yet so I can’t give any advice as to which is my preferred brand. And I’ve read that consuming a “pepper” supplement aids in the absorption of the herb. So much so that one user claimed to “pop three peppercorns” with his supplement. Although, many brands now actually include some sort of pepper or piperine extract in their formulas.
One should be aware that the presence of contaminants such as metals and arsenic in turmeric has been all over the news lately since the FDA has recalled some major brands. Researching how to find pure forms free of contaminating agents is another daunting task in and of itself.
Since I’ve been adding a little bit (about one and a half teaspoons or so) to my smoothies I’ve noticed a reduction in the following:
- The pain in the main joint of my big toe that I SWEAR is from arthritis
- My acid reflux doesn’t seem to be as bad or as pervasive
- The effects of my allergies seem to have lessened a bit
Of course, there’s really no way for me to determine whether or not these improvements were related to the turmeric specifically or the overall general lifestyle improvements since I did not start adding the turmeric in isolation of all other changes. But, it certainly couldn’t have hurt, right? I’m also still waiting to have my cholesterol checked again in a few months…