Turmeric: Nature’s anti-inflammatory more effective than pharmaceuticals
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. The key component in turmeric is curcumin, a compound also found in small amounts in ginger. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and multiple studies have shown it to be more effective than either ibuprofen or aspirin in relieving pain caused by inflammation.
Turmeric has been used in food and medicinally for several thousand years in India, parts of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where people probably wonder why it has taken so long for us to catch on in the West. Traditionally, turmeric has been used to clear up infections, treat liver disease, headaches, digestive complaints, skin conditions, respiratory problems, joint and muscle pain and inflammation and to stave off dementia.
In the rest of the world turmeric has only recently begun to attract attention in a big way, with thousands of new studies in the last few decades, investigating its use in curing headaches, treating digestive complaints, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and many other ailments.
According to nutritional expert Dr Josh Axe, there are “6,235 peer-reviewed articles published proving the benefits of turmeric and… curcumin.” It is “one of the most frequently mentioned medicinal herbs in all of science and the next most popular studied herbs include garlic, cinnamon, ginseng, ginger and milk thistle.”
Anti-inflammatory and more
The most well-known benefit of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory property. It’s one of the most effective anti-inflammatories known to science. Chronic inflammation plays a part in most age-related diseases, including cancer, heart disease, dementia, arthritis, as well as autoimmune diseases and diabetes, and turmeric has shown potential for treating all of these and more.
Due to its anti-inflammatory effect, curcumin can be very beneficial for rheumatoid and osteo-arthritis. One study involving rheumatoid arthritis patients showed curcumin to be more effective than diclofenac sodium, an arthritis drug with side-effects including leaky gut and heart disease.
A study conducted in Germany in 2014 discovered that aromatic turmerone – another bio-active ingredient in turmeric – encourages stem cell growth and brain cell regeneration. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin combined with aromatic turmerone could play a role in treating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and strokes.
Curcumin reduces the oxidative stress and inflammation associated with diabetes. It may also improve insulin sensitivity.
A multitude of studies have shown curcumin to be effective in altering depressive behaviour in animals. One recent human study showed curcumin to be as effective as Prozac in treating mild depression.
One placebo-controlled study reported that turmeric extract reduces the risk of post-bypass heart attacks by 56%. Another study showed that curcumin increases arterial dilation and improves heart rate in post-menopausal women to a degree roughly equivalent to 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week.
Digestion and IBS
Turmeric aids digestion. A 2004 study into curcumin as a treatment for Crohn’s disease showed a “significant decrease in symptoms as well as in inflammatory indices”. And several studies have linked turmeric with an improvement in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive issues, with a Japanese study in 2008 showing it to “increase bowel motility and activate hydrogen-producing bacterial flora in the colon”. Many patients could stop taking their harmful corticosteroids because curcumin had reduced their symptoms so dramatically.
If so much research has gone into curcumin, with such positive results, why isn’t it recommended by doctors more?
The main reason is money. There’s no profit in it for pharmaceutical companies because it can’t be patented. Therefore, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
There is a major problem with the way most countries, including New Zealand, fund research and development of new medicine. We don’t put enough public money towards it, therefore we rely on profit-making companies to advise our government on new drugs. If drug companies could find a way to patent curcumin, isolate it cheaply in a bioavailable form and sell it to us at exorbitant prices, they would. And they’ve tried.
How to take it
You can buy it fresh or powdered and add it to your cooking (it’s what gives curries their bright orange-yellow colour). Turmeric has a very mild peppery flavour. Side-effects seem to be virtually nil, and there is no indication of a maximum safe dose.
Turmeric tea is easy to make and delicious. Combine 2 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of turmeric (or more) and a pinch of black pepper and simmer for 10 minutes. Add milk of choice (almond, coconut or dairy) and honey to taste. You can adapt your tea recipe by adding lemon instead of milk, or by including other spices such as ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cayenne pepper or a slice of fresh ginger.
You can also rub it on meat, add it to stir fries, roast vegetables and curries. It can also be added to smoothies or fruit juice (especially pineapple).
Another way to take curcumin, is in supplement form.
About Health’s Res-V Ultimate contains curcumin, in addition to its main active ingredient resveratrol, combined with other powerful antioxidants designed to combat age-related diseases. A number of health benefits have been associated with resveratrol, including protecting skin from UV, ‘anti-aging’ effects on mitochondria, obesity, and reducing insulin resistance. The latest research also indicates resveratrol could be effective in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease.
The absorption of curcumin is increased when it is consumed in combination with fat, so it’s a great idea to take Res-V Ultimate in combination with Lester’s Oil, which contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids combined with a carefully formulated antioxidant and vitamin complex.