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5 Things You Need to Know About Turmeric

This herbal spice provides multiple health benefits whether you consume it as a supplement or as part of your diet.

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The turmeric plant is native to India, and the root has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. In addition, it is perhaps the most crucial ingredient in curry. That isn’t surprising when you learn that its Latin name is Curcuma longa. Curry has long been considered a food that promotes health and well-being.

“Turmeric is a member of the ginger family, and its active ingredient is curcumin, which provides the bitter and spicy flavor in the food version,” says Dwayne Jackson, Ph.D., associate professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, in Ontario, Canada. “More importantly, getting turmeric root in either food or supplemental form helps provide multiple health benefits.” This is true whether you’re trying to promote general health, or reduce the impact of one of many diseases or any harmful pre-cursors.

Turmeric root contains curcuminoids, powerful compounds that are extracted and purified from this plant. Many years ago, turmeric was used to treat smallpox, a deadly disease that has since been eradicated from the planet. Today, many people consume turmeric or
its curcuminoid extract for any of its many benefits. These include reducing pain and inflammation, regulating blood sugar, balancing hormone levels, and helping to fight cancerous tumors.

Here’s more about five benefits that supplementing and consuming turmeric provide. This list is by no means exhaustive as this powerful root likely provides many more.

1. Turmeric decreases inflammation

One of the least understood aspects of chronic health problems and disease is the role that inflammation plays. “Stress, high body fat, and environmental toxins all increase our inflammatory load,” Jackson says. Everyone is familiar with the temporary inflammation that comes from short-term activity that causes muscle soreness. But many people also suffer from systemic inflammation, which is under-rated in its impact for causing or exacerbating disease. “Many studies indicate that supplementing turmeric may help reduce inflammation,” Jackson says. That’s true whether you’re trying to recover from your last workout, boost your health or control symptoms of a condition or disease you suffer from.

2. Turmeric improves your response to insulin

One of the most shocking health statistics is that more than 100 million Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Yes, one out of three of us have trouble with our blood sugar. And the majority of these 100 million Americans are unaware that they have Type-2 diabetes or are pre-diabetic. Fortunately, research indicates that supplementing turmeric may increase insulin sensitivity, allowing your body and cells to respond more effectively to insulin so that your body needs to release less. “Studies support supplemental turmeric’s advantages in controlling blood sugar,” Jackson says. Ultimately, this reduces your susceptibility to Type-2 diabetes or the impact of it if you already suffer from this disease.

3. Turmeric supports balanced hormones

Hormones are involved in every process that takes place in the brain and body. That’s why hormonal balance is essential. The good news is, turmeric may benefit hormone regulation without synthetic medications. Supplementing with turmeric curcuminoids may help decrease the harmful effects of estrogen conversion. While estrogen is beneficial in both women and men, making sure this hormone is properly regulated is crucial for health. Turmeric also prevents the conversion of testosterone to DHT (a male sex hormone), which causes unwanted side effects that include gynecomastia and loss of hair. Supplementing with turmeric helps protect the function of men’s testes. Turmeric is beneficial in helping to regulate levels of estrogen and testosterone in both men and women.

4. Turmeric diminishes the risk of cancer

Combating chronic inflammation, a known contributing factor to the development of cancer, turmeric promotes the body’s ability to fight the spread of cancerous cells. Its
potent antioxidants support the body’s natural immunity to oxidative changes — changes that can cause cancer to develop and progress. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has worked extensively to study the effects of turmeric on cancer development and has deemed it to be “one of the most effective cancer combatants,” as reported in Clinical Cancer Research. With the simple addition of 1 tablespoon of turmeric per day, you can naturally help to keep your body clear of cancer.

5. Turmeric reduces pain from arthritis

While it’s been established that turmeric has a significant impact on reducing
inflammation, an additional benefit is that turmeric also decreases the pain that people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis experience. This form of arthritis causes your body to attack your joints, causing stiffness, swelling and/or pain. In a study published in Clinical
Interventions in Aging
, 1,500 mg of daily turmeric supplementation was shown to have no only anti-inflammatory properties, but also analgesic properties, comparable to 800 mg of ibuprofen.

The Terms Of Turmeric

When shopping for turmeric supplements, “Look for products that have been standardized for curcuminoids and contain piperine for added bioavailability,” says Dwayne Jackson, PhD, associate professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, in Ontario, Canada.

Look for products that contain about 20 mg piperine for every 500 mg of curcuminoids. One study showed that adding piperine enhanced the bioavailability of curcumin by up to 2,000 percent. Piperines are alkaloids found in the outer skin of black pepper fruit that help boost absorption; it may appear on your product label as black pepper extract. You can also directly consume the turmeric root, using it as a spice similar to curry. Curry itself is constituted of multiple spices including turmeric root.

While turmeric is beneficial in supporting general health, those who suffer from a specific condition or disease should consult with a doctor or other medical professional to glean more specific advice on turmeric’s benefits for their individual needs.