The Curative Properties of the Golden Spice Turmeric
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The Curative Properties of the Golden Spice Turmeric

Turmeric has been used in traditional medicine for more than 4,000 years. Even today, Ayurvedic medicines use turmeric. Curcumin is a curcuminoid and is the active component of turmeric. Curcumin possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are responsible for many of the medicinal properties of turmeric. Turmeric has also been traditionally used in Indian cooking.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) belongs to the ginger family. Turmeric is a classical example for a medicinal plant and turmeric has been used for more than 4,000 years to treat various illnesses. Turmeric is a perennial plant which grows to a height of 5-6 feet. It is the root which is used. It is cultivated mostly in India where it is also widely used in traditional cooking. Many claims have been put forward regarding the curative properties of turmeric. Some of these have been proved and some have not been. Also, many of the results have been obtained based on animal experiments and these studies need to be duplicated in human beings.

Curcumin is the Active Ingredient

Curcumin is a curcuminoid found in turmeric. It is this compound which gives turmeric its characteristic yellow color. It is also because of this color that turmeric has been called golden spice. Most of the curative properties attributed to turmeric are due to the presence of this chemical. Curcumin possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants are compounds capable of scavenging the free radicals which are being continuously produced in the body. The hydroxyl free radical is considered to be the most reactive of all free radicals and it is easily scavenged by curcumin.

Osteoarthritis

This is a painful condition involving the joints. It arises mainly due to ageing, but it can also come into picture because of injuries. Cartilage is a substance which occurs in the joints and acts as a cushion, thereby protecting the bones. Over a period of time, there is a gradual erosion of cartilage in the joints and this becomes prominent and obvious after the age of 60. The erosion of the cartilage, like many other processes is a natural phenomenon. Arthritis due to cartilage loss is called osteoarthritis and is treated with pain killers. Physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles around the affected joints is also helpful. Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are being used, but their efficacy has not been proved. This is because cartilage is avascular (no blood supply). Curcumin from turmeric has been shown to inhibit cartilage degradation. This can arrest the deterioration in the joints. Studies with curcumin have shown that it can lower the circulating levels of C-reactive protein which is an inflammation marker.

Cancer

Cancer refers to uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. Cancer and Alzheimer’s disease are two of the most dreaded diseases. Several studies have established the anticancer properties of curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to act against several forms of cancer including prostate, breast, skin and colon cancers. Turmeric may counter cancer through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric also reduces the body levels of heterocyclic amines which are potent carcinogenic compounds. Pretreatment with curcumin makes cancer cells more susceptible to chemo and radiotherapy.

Alzheimer’s Disease

This is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting people over the age of 65. This is a much feared disease because it wipes out memory totally. The word turmeric is synonymous with India. India is the leading producer and consumer of turmeric and it is widely used in Indian cooking. It is not surprising that India has one of the lowest rates of incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric help to counter the ageing of the brain.

Digestion

Turmeric promotes the release of bile which, in turn, promotes digestion and prevents bloating and gas formation. Turmeric helps to control ulcerative colitis.

Obesity and diabetes

Animal studies have shown that turmeric is capable of countering diabetes. This effect is achieved by blocking the absorption of glucose in the intestinal tract. Turmeric also prevents weight gain. Turmeric also has antibacterial and antiviral properties. The major problem with turmeric has been the poor bioavailability because of poor absorption from the intestinal tract. This problem could be overcome if turmeric is taken along with pepper as piperine from pepper promotes the absorption of curcumin. Thus, any turmeric supplement should contain turmeric as well as pepper.

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Comments (1)

Oh! This is good news site link. I will often use this spice.

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