If you love Indian food, you recognize the rich, deep-yellow color found in any modern Indian curry dish. Tumeric has been a go-to item for thousands of years in India, China and Indonesia, not only as a food and a dye, but also as a curative herb. While the use of Tumeric dates back to the 7th century, the herb’s natural healing ability continues to gather attention as modern sientific research validates its potency and popularity among modern wellness advocates in Asia, Europe and North America.
Found primarily in Soutern Asia, turmeric is a perennial plant and member of the ginger family. Fully grown, it reaches heights of five to six feet and boasts deep, dark yellow trumpet shaped flowers. However, it’s the root of the plant that boiled, dried and ground into that familiar yellow powder.
Historically, holistic medicine dictated the use of turmeric for a long list of health issues, including intestinal support to respiratory distress. It’s used to help deal with parasites and bacterial and viral infections as well as surface bites and bruises. Natural healers relied on the plant to treat kidneys and bladder inflammation and even used the root to treat leprosy.
The wide variety of medicinal uses can be attributed to turmeric’s inherent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiseptic properties. Scientists have discovered the plant to contain the following important compounds:
- Polyphenols and phytochemicals
- Vitamins A, C, E and several Bs
- Iron, manganese, potassium, magnesium and other minerals
- Immunity-boosting carotenoids and carotenes
- COX-2 enzyme inhibitors to alleviate pain
With more than 90 active constituents in its bilogical makeup, it’s no wonder that healers have relied on turmeric since ancient times.
Although there is currently no official system governing the use of herbal medicine in the U.S. studies on the the practice continue here in and medical science communities around the globe. Recent research has shown:
- The American Cancer Society reports that turmeric has been found in laboratory studies to slow the development of several forms of cancer and to shrink tumors (in animals) – particularly those that occur in colon and rectal cancers.
- In a 2010 Italian study, subjects with osteoarthritis took a turmeric formulation for 90 days and experienced a 58 percent decrease in overall pain compared to a control group. They also experienced a 16 fold decrease in their blood serum levels of C-reactive protein, the inflammation marker. Subjects were able to decrease their use of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) by 63 percent with use of turmeric formulation.
- A 2014 German study found turmeric promising for treating neaurological disorders and events, such as Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. The study was performed on rats, but researchers found that subjects given a turmeric compound exhibited an increase in the same type of brain stem cells that are found in adult humans. This indicates that cells might be able to self-repair and recover brain function in instances of neurodegenerative disease.
- A 2011 study an Chiang Mai University in Thailand, the use of turmeric following coronoary bypass surgery decreased the incidence of heart attack. Researchers say that phenols in the turmeric root were responsible for reducing the risk of heart attack in subjects by 56 percent. They concluded that by lowering inflammation, oxygen toxicity and damage from free radicals, turmeric acts in a cardio protective capacity.
For centuries, Turmeric has been used to heal and enhance skin. When ingested, its antimicrobial, antiviral and antiseptic benefits can ease acne and other skin conditions.
All in all, turmeric has a range of health benefits from its use. Anyone interested in the use of herbs to support their health are encouraged to research more and seek advice of a holistic healthcare professional. As always, the content of this article is not intended to give professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis, the content of this blog is for informational purposes only!