What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is the most popular spice in Indian kitchens. It is obtained from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, a ginger family member. Turmeric is a herb native to India and Central America. It is made up of several compounds, almost a hundred of them. Its most active ingredient known for health benefits is curcumin. Curcumin renders turmeric a yellowish hue but only makes 5 % of it.
Turmeric has an age-old history and has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat numerous health issues such as pain, fatigue, swelling, etc. It has been so important to the people of Southeast Asia that it has been used in religious ceremonies for 4,000 years now. Lately, it has been given the status of a ‘superfood’ due to its innumerable benefits.
What Are the Uses of Turmeric?
Turmeric is a lot more than just a bright, flavored spice, and it possesses a plethora of health benefits. So, it is used in a variety of ways and in different forms. Some of its uses and benefits are listed below.
Ease Arthritis Pain: Curcumin in turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory properties, rendering it efficacy in treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis. In a small study, it was found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who consumed a 500 mg curcumin supplement twice a day for two months experienced considerable improvements in joint tenderness and swelling in comparison to patients who had a prescribed anti-inflammatory drug or a combination of the two remedies.
Lower Depression Symptoms: Depression is linked to decreased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein found in the brain and spinal cord that helps in maintaining communication between nerve cells. In patients with severe depressive disorder, those who consumed 1,000 mg of curcumin once a day for six weeks found similar results to those who had an antidepressant or a combination of the two therapies. Curcumin may also aid in preventing the chances of having Alzheimer’s disease.
Aid in Treating Diabetes: Due to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory characteristics, it is used in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, including diabetes. Curcumin may also aid in preventing type 2 diabetes by improving the body’s insulin resistance, decreasing blood sugar levels, and lowering bad cholesterol levels.
Help in Weight Loss: There is not much scientific evidence and hence, it is unclear whether turmeric can actually help in losing weight or not, but primary research suggested that it may enhance the efforts of weight loss.
Complement Cancer Treatment: As per the American Cancer Society, it is not clear whether turmeric can help in preventing cancer growth in human beings or not. However, it is claimed by a review study that turmeric may act as an adjunct to cancer treatment, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers noted that curcumin in turmeric may prevent tumor formation and its transformation into cancerous form, though this piece of research is insufficient in humans and more studies are needed.
Support Skin Health: Turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidative properties, providing it a potential efficacy for treating skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. However, more studies and research are needed to support this point. Due to its limited bioavailability, it is less likely to be used as the only treatment for skin diseases, instead, it can complement the existing ones.
What Are the Side Effects of Turmeric?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), turmeric is generally safe for consumption, though taking it in increased amounts or over long periods of time may cause abdominal issues like diarrhea, skin rash, yellow stool, and headache.
Some other potential risks of turmeric are as follows:
Mild adverse effects like stomach upset, acid reflux, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, etc. Consuming high doses of turmeric supplements can remarkably increase urinary oxalate levels, further increasing the chances of kidney stone formation.
Turmeric acts as a blood thinner so it should be avoided in cases of bleeding disorders or in those on anticoagulant therapy.
Turmeric can have notable negative drug interactions with medications like anticoagulants, antidepressants, antibiotics, antihistamines, cardiac medications, and chemotherapeutic drugs. It can also enhance the action of diabetes medications and can cause dangerously decreased blood glucose levels.
Turmeric can also aggravate stomach issues, like acid reflux, and gallstones.
Turmeric has also been claimed to limit iron absorption so, it should not be taken by those taking iron supplements.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women can eat food containing turmeric as a spice but they should avoid having turmeric supplements. As high doses of turmeric may stimulate uterine contractions and can cause complications.
What Is the Nutritional Value of Turmeric?
The optimal dose of turmeric varies from one individual to another and depends on the general health of a person. The doctors usually recommend taking 500 milligrams twice a day with food. However, the safe dose of turmeric is up to 8 grams per day. For adequate absorption of turmeric, it should be taken with heart-healthy fats such as oils, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
What Are the Ways to Use Turmeric?
Turmeric can be taken as a spice in food, or as a supplement. Though it is preferred to be taken as a spice yet, curcumin in a supplement is more potent and thus, it has better antioxidative properties. Though as a spice it may not have a remarkable impact and can be a great way to season food without salt. Turmeric can be added to the following food items:
Turmeric is a natural medicine for many diseases. Yet, it should be consumed in its natural form, not as a supplement; and in optimal quantities. It is only under specific circumstances that it can be taken as a supplement. Depending on the individual’s overall health and whether the person is affected by conditions like gastrointestinal disorders or kidney stones, a doctor should be consulted prior to including it as a supplement.