Everything You Need to Know About Turmeric
What is Turmeric?
f you look in your kitchen cabinet now, the chances are you have a jar of bright yellow turmeric. Popular for adding color and flavor to Asian cuisine, turmeric is a vibrant yellow spice that has grabbed the attention of doctors and researchers for its potent health benefits.
In this article, we explore this common spice and why you should consider taking a turmeric supplement.
Turmeric, from the Curcuma longa plant, is a yellow rhizome (root) that's related to ginger and native to Southeast Asia. Known as the "golden root", turmeric is dried and ground into a powder for use in cooking. It has also been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic Medicine to soothe inflammation, support digestion, boost immunity, and heal wounds.
While using turmeric powder is great for cooking, taking a supplement is the most efficient way to experience the healing properties of this spice in a concentrated form.
How Turmeric Works
Turmeric root supports overall health by providing your body with minerals like manganese, potassium, iron, as well as hundreds of health-boosting active compounds. However, numerous studies have confirmed that the majority of turmeric’s amazing health properties – and its color – are due to the polyphenol curcumin. This active compound has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties (1).
Curcumin promotes well-being and creates balance in your body by protecting your cells and DNA from the damaging effects of free radicals from the environment. These unstable molecules bombard you daily from both exogenous and endogenous sources – like stress, intense exercise, pollution, smoking, and eating processed food. Not only does curcumin act as an antioxidant, but it also stimulates the activity of your body’s antioxidant enzymes (2).
This makes it ideal for reducing chronic inflammation and slowing the signs of aging. It's particularly popular among those with degenerative joint pain and depression.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Let's explore how regularly taking a turmeric supplement can benefit your health.
Research has shown that turmeric extract is one of the most useful anti-inflammatory herbal supplements (3). While inflammation is a necessary process for healing, when it becomes chronic it has a devastating impact on overall health.
A 2012 study looked at the effect of taking curcumin in those with active rheumatoid arthritis – an inflammatory immune condition that affects the joints and other bodily systems. Compared to a pharmaceutical treatment, curcumin resulted in the most improvement in disease activity and swelling (4).
Relieves Arthritic Pain
We've seen how turmeric targets and soothes chronic inflammation in the body, so it comes as no surprise that it's useful for painful conditions like arthritis. Turmeric, and its active ingredient curcumin, is probably one of the most well-known natural supplements for relieving joint pain. It also improves stiffness and physical mobility in people with degenerative osteoarthritis.
Interestingly, studies have found that turmeric extract provides similar results as ibuprofen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medication in patients with osteoarthritis in the knee (5, 6). All without nasty side-effects! .
Promotes a Balanced Mood
Curcumin from turmeric extract is being studied for its positive impact on mood and feelings of well-being. It may boost levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein involved in the growth of nerve cells in areas of the brain that control cognitive function and emotions. Low levels of BDNF have been linked to depression and other brain changes.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that taking curcumin – in addition to antidepressant medication – resulted in (7):
- An improvement in depression symptoms
- Greater BDNF levels
- Lower levels of inflammatory markers
- A reduction in the stress hormone cortisol
Supports Heart Health
The powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric extract make it great for promoting heart health. It may reduce the risk and progression of heart disease by neutralizing its precursors – oxidative damage and chronic inflammation!
Research suggests curcuminoids protect the delicate membrane that lines the heart and blood vessels, known as the endothelium (8). Some of the benefits of a healthy endothelial lining include regulating blood pressure and clotting.
Make Turmeric Part of Your Daily Diet
Okay you knew it was coming... time for a shameless plug. Do you think the benefits of adding turmeric to your daily diet could help? Create a personalized daily vitamin pack that includes turmeric and any other vitamins, minerals or supplements you think could help. Start by adding turmeric to your Kit here!