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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

What is Turmeric? The Ultimate Guide To Tumeric

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What is Turmeric? The Ultimate Guide To Tumeric

Turmeric, Curcuma longa or “Indian saffron” has been a part of the healthy dieting trend for quite some time, and it isn’t without a good reason. Traditionally Asian, the plant belongs to the ginger family and it gives curry its yellowish color and warm, bitter taste. With an amazing array of health benefits it offers, it is no wonder that it has been quickly adopted by the health conscious eaters around the world.

Originating in Southern Asia, traditionally, turmeric root (usually dried and cooked and turned into powder) has been used as a spice for dishes in the traditional cuisine, fabric or food coloring aid, and for medical purposes due to its anti-inflammatory effect and great aid in curing bruises, blood in the urine and toothache. With numerous clinical trials testing its active compound curcumin, turmeric has now been proven to improve brain health, cardiovascular health and tissue health. [1] [2]

Turmeric main nutrients

Serving Size: 1 tbsp (7 grams)

  • Calories 24
  • Calories from Fat 6
  • Total Fat 1 g 1%
  • Saturated Fat 0 g 1%
  • Trans Fat
  • Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
  • Sodium 3 mg 0%
  • Total Carbohydrates 4 g 4%
  • Dietary Fiber 1 g 6%
  • Vitamin C 3%

With no sugar, 16% of iron and 1g of protein per 7 grams, turmeric is a beneficial aid in daily nutrition.

Health benefits of turmeric

Turmeric improves digestion

Turmeric has positive effect on the digestion. As the 2015 research shows [3], turmeric and ginger help in curing stomach ulcer. Stomach ulcer develops as a result of an imbalance between digestive fluids in the stomach and duodenum and a Helicobacter pylori bacteria that cause pain in the stomach lining. According to the research turmeric “inhibited ulcer by 84.7%” adding that “ethanol-induced lesions such as necrosis, erosion and hemorrhage of the stomach wall were significantly reduced after oral administration of essential oils”.

Turmeric aids in depression treatment

A study [4] published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shows that turmeric has the potential for treating major depressive disorder. A randomized, placebo-controlled study found a significant antidepressant effect of turmeric on people with major depressive disorder. A 2007 study [5] also found that turmeric could be an effective anti-depressant agent.

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Turmeric treats rheumatoid arthritis

In a 2012 randomized, pilot study [6] the effects of turmeric on rheumatoid arthritis were tested and they showed surprisingly great results. Turmeric actually showed better results of improvement of the condition than the traditionally used drug diclofenac sodium.

Turmeric regulates lipid levels

A 1992 study [7] shows that active compound of turmeric, curcumin, taken daily, can help regulate the lipid levels in humans by increasing “good” cholesterol and decreasing “bad” cholesterol. Namely, “a significant decrease in the level of serum lipid peroxides (33%), increase in HDL Cholesterol (29%), and a decrease in total serum cholesterol (11.63%) were noted” after healthy volunteers were taking 500 mg of curcumin per day for 7 days. Additionally, curcumin from turmeric was proven to have better effect on regulation of lipids than vitamin E, as the study [8] shows.

Turmeric improves antioxidant mechanisms

The ability of curcumin to stimulate the antioxidant mechanisms was tested and proven in a number of studies. [9]

This means that curcumin aids in the process of fighting free radicals that cause aging and many diseases.

Turmeric aids in prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

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Additional studies need to be conducted in order to test the ability of curcumin to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease, yet a study [10] has found that curcumin can help to clear the buildup of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques which are one of the main causes for the disease.

Turmeric accelerates the wound healing process

A 2006 [11] and a 2014 [12] studies have found that curcumin in turmeric has great potential to speed up the wound healing process. Namely, the active compounds in turmeric can help to soothe irritation and oxidation, improve wound contraction and and increase tissue strength and cell proliferation around the wound.

Turmeric side effects

As with any type of food, it is important to consume turmeric in moderation, as any overuse can lead to possible side effects. Turmeric side effects include

  • Nausea and diarrhea – curcumin in turmeric can cause the irritation in the intestinal tract [13]
  • Increased risk of bleeding – Turmeric can slow blood clothing, and in combination with some medicine, can even cause excessive bleeding
  • Hyperactive gallbladder contractions – Turmeric has the potential of increasing the levels of oxalate in urine
  • Hypotension (lowered blood pressure) – High dosages of turmeric can significantly lower blood pressure
  • Uterine contractions in pregnant women – Pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn’t take turmeric other than spice in food, since supplement turmeric can cause serious side effects

Allergic reactions – Possible allergic reactions to turmeric include mild, itchy rash after skin exposure

Fresh or dried, powdered turmeric

There are two forms in which you can find and use turmeric, therefore, there are some suggestions on how to pick the right one for your needs.

Fresh turmeric is a root turmeric that resembles ginger. A 2015 study [14] has shown that fresh turmeric has more bioavailability, meaning that the body will use its most effective compounds more easily. Fresh turmeric can be used to make tea; you can grate it into soups, salads or vegetables before roasting; it can be blended into smoothies and juiced into juices.

Dried turmeric is made by peeling, drying and grounding into powder. Even though some of the healthy ingredients are lost during the process, several studies show that boiling and heating actually increase the curcumin levels and enhance the antioxidant properties of the compound. [15]

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Turmeric is especially recommended for patients suffering from dyspepsia (upset stomach), osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, according to WebMD.

However some conditions don’t respond well to turmeric and its active compound curcumin, therefore turmeric might not be safe for

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
    People with
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Hormone sensitive disorders
  • Iron deficiency
  • Who are preparing for surgery or who have recently undergone one

Recommended dosages of turmeric for adults according to University of Maryland Medical Center

Cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day

Dried, powdered root: 1 – 3 g per day

Standardized powder (curcumin): 400 – 600 mg, 3 times per day

Fluid extract (1:1) 30 – 90 drops a day

Tincture (1:2): 15 – 30 drops, 4 times per day

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Healthy and super easy turmeric recipes for you to try at home

Here are some suggestions on how to make healthy and simple turmeric meals and beverages at home.

Cauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric, and Cumin

    Add a bit of turmeric warm and healthy flavor to your regular roasted vegetables for a perfect dinner.

    Vegan Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup

      Quick and easy recipe for a perfectly creamy, warm and slightly spicy soup.

      Turmeric-Ginger Tea

        Super easy and extremely powerful warm beverage to fight even the nastiest cold.

        Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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        Reference

        [1] SOURCE: Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.Chapter 13Turmeric, the Golden Spice. 
        [2] SOURCE: The targets of curcumin.
        [3] SOURCE: Gastroprotective activity of essential oils from turmeric and ginger.
        [4] SOURCE: Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study.
        [5] SOURCE: Behavioral, neurochemical and neuroendocrine effects of the ethanolic extract from Curcuma longa L. in the mouse forced swimming test.
        [6] SOURCE:A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis.
        [7] SOURCE:Effect of oral curcumin administration on serum peroxides and cholesterol levels in human volunteers.
        [8] SOURCE:Spice Up Your Lipids: The Effects of Curcumin on Lipids in Humans
        [9] SOURCE: Curcumin induces glutathione biosynthesis and inhibits NF-kappaB activation and interleukin-8 release in alveolar epithelial cells: mechanism of free radical scavenging activity.
        [10] SOURCE: Curcuminoids enhance amyloid-beta uptake by macrophages of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
        [11] SOURCE: Curcumin improves wound healing by modulating collagen and decreasing reactive oxygen species.
        [12] SOURCE: Curcumin as a wound healing agent
        [13] SOURCE: Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview
        [14] SOURCE: Enhanced absorption and pharmacokinetics of fresh turmeric (Curcuma Longa L) derived curcuminoids in comparison with the standard curcumin from dried rhizomes
        [15] SOURCE: Effect of Boiling and Roasting on the Antioxidants Concentrations in Extracts of Fresh Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Turmeric (Curcuma longa).

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        Last Updated on September 21, 2021

        6 Health Benefits of Turmeric (And How to Take It for Good)

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        6 Health Benefits of Turmeric (And How to Take It for Good)

        Turmeric has been hailed as a superfood, and it’s all thanks to its powerful active ingredient—curcumin. Curcumin is what gives turmeric its yellow color, as well as the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and health benefits of turmeric.

        Numerous scientific studies have shown curcumin to have potent anti-inflammatory properties[1], which are similar to pharmaceutical drugs, such as hydrocortisone but without the harmful side-effects.

        Turmeric has even been shown to treat arthritis, metabolic syndrome, pain, and even degenerative eye conditions.[2]

        Here’s a breakdown of the many health benefits of turmeric.

        1. Potent Anti-Inflammatory Effects

        One of the most powerful health benefits of turmeric comes from its ability to reduce inflammation in the body. It works by scavenging different forms of free radicals, including both reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.

        Curcumin also helps to modulate the activity of your body’s detoxifying enzymes. This plays a major role in reducing inflammation because inflammatory cells “free up” many reactive species at the site of inflammation. This process leads to oxidative stress and, consequently, inflammation.

        Curcumin can also increase your body’s levels of antioxidants, as shown by a recent systematic review of taking turmeric supplements that contained purified curcuminoids. It was concluded that curcumin has a powerful effect on all levels of oxidative stress in the body.

        Because inflammation is one of the hallmarks of chronic disease, turmeric has important benefits for many people suffering from painful or inflammatory health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.[3]

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        2. Antifungal and Antimicrobial

        Turmeric may be a helpful treatment for fungal or bacterial infections in the body. Studies have shown that curcumin was able to completely inhibit the growth of Candida albicans, as well as several other fungal strains[4].

        Curcumin has even been shown to prevent Candida from adhering to human cells more effectively than the commercial antifungal drug fluconazole[5].

        In one study, researchers found that using ascorbic acid alongside curcumin potentiated its antifungal effects by up to 10 times. This suggests that taking vitamin C supplements with curcumin may help kill off fungal infections much more quickly.

        Turmeric is even being used as a food-safe antibacterial agent thanks to its ability to invade the cell of a bacterial species and eliminate it from within. Applying turmeric formulas to food preparation surfaces such as chopping boards, knives, and countertops has been found to kill harmful bacteria.

        3. Relieves Pain Caused by Inflammation

        Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties may be able to relieve the pain of inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

        Curcumin works by inhibiting NF-KB, a molecule that controls your body’s production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines[6]. This essentially means that curcumin can “turn off” a bunch of inflammatory molecules.

        In fact, the corticosteroids that are often prescribed to treat arthritis symptoms work by inhibiting NF-KB. New research shows that turmeric supplements can have a similar effect. Similar research shows that curcumin may also target specific inflammatory cells and block some types of enzymes that cause inflammation.

        Studies involving people with osteoarthritis of the knee found that taking a curcuminoid supplement every day for six weeks resulted in significant reductions in pain. The participants’ physical function also improved greatly. Their systemic oxidative stress was also shown to improve.[7]

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        The researchers suggested that this was due to Curcuminoids providing potent local anti-inflammatory effects. It appears that taking standardized turmeric extract over several weeks could be enough to reduce arthritis symptoms of pain and inflammation and may even provide similar relief to ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium.

        4. Alleviates Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

        Curcumin has been shown to help treat the issues associated with metabolic syndrome, including insulin sensitivity, fat accumulation, high blood pressure, inflammation, and oxidative stress. The curcuminoids in turmeric extract have also been found to help reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol while boosting levels of good cholesterol.[8]

        Researchers tested the effects of turmeric by giving a group of patients with metabolic syndrome 1g of turmeric extract (with piperine to aid absorption) for 8 weeks. The patients experienced significant improvement, including reduced overall LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol. They also showed positive changes in serum lipids and glucose levels, as well as reduced inflammation.

        The authors concluded that turmeric was a natural, safe, and effective treatment for improving the health of those with metabolic syndrome, mainly by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, making this one of the most impressive health benefits of turmeric.[9]

        5. Improves Cardiovascular Health

        Curcumin may help to reverse many factors involved in the progression of heart disease by improving the lining of blood vessels, known as the endothelium. Endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease as it’s involved in regulating blood pressure and blood clotting.

        Several studies have now indicated that curcumin may be highly beneficial to endothelial function. Some evidence suggests that curcumin supplements may provide similar benefits to the drug Atovastin, while other studies show it may be as effective as exercise. Curcumin also appears to reduce both inflammation and oxidation, which are major drivers of heart disease and dysfunction.

        A study involving people undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery found that taking curcumin before and after surgery lowered the risk of experiencing another heart attack by 65%.[10]

        6. May Slow the Effects of Aging

        Although there is no possible way to stop the body aging, it may be possible to slow down its negative effects. Turmeric’s antioxidant properties may be an important means of reducing the lifelong accumulation of molecular damage and oxidation.

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        As a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, curcumin may be able to slow down aging. It boosts the level of antioxidant enzymes in your body while also scavenging free radicals that cause oxidative stress.

        It also helps prevent these free radicals from causing lipid peroxidation—the oxidation of fats in the cell membrane, which leads to death of the cell.

        How to Take Turmeric

        Here are ways you can take this helpful spice to maximize the health benefits of turmeric.

        1. Golden Milk

        Add coconut milk, almond milk, ground turmeric, ground ginger, a cinnamon stick, coconut oil, black pepper, and a pinch of stevia to a small saucepan.

        Whisk to combine all ingredients thoroughly, then place over medium heat. Heat until hot to the touch but not boiling, while stirring continually. This should take about four minutes.

        Turn off heat and taste. Adjust flavor if necessary with more turmeric or ginger for greater intensity, or more sweetener.

        Serve immediately. This recipe should make enough for two glasses. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheat on the stovetop.

        2. In Your Meals

        Turmeric is often added to curry powders for flavor, color, and the many health benefits of turmeric. Here are some examples of tasty recipes that include turmeric:

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        • Vegan Low Carb Eggplant Curry[11]
        • Cauliflower Curry[12]
        • Golden Baked Chicken and Leeks[13]

        3. Turmeric Tonic

        Add turmeric, ginger, lemon juice, and leftover lemon rind, chosen sweetener, black pepper, and filtered water to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer (don’t boil!) over medium to medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and pour the tonic through a small strainer into two mugs.

        If the tonic is too strong, dilute with more hot or warm water. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Reheat on the stovetop until just warm.

        4. Turmeric Supplements

        If you wish to take turmeric as a supplement, look for a quality product that includes BioPerine. Bioperine is a compound from black pepper that maximizes the bioavailability of curcumin.

        It’s also important to choose a supplement that’s standardized to 95% curcuminoids. This means that it will provide a highly concentrated dose of curcuminoids. Watch out for turmeric supplements that claim to be turmeric extract but only contain a tiny amount of it or you won’t receive all of the health benefits of turmeric.

        Final Thoughts

        There are numerous health benefits of turmeric, and anyone who wants a healthy diet should consider including it in their meal plan. I hope this article helped you know more about the benefits of turmeric and convince you to try it out, along with the various ways you can take it for a healthier body.

        More About Turmeric

        Featured photo credit: Diana Polekhina via unsplash.com

        Reference