Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a yummy spice that gives curry its yellow color.  Turmeric has been used for not only as a spice but also a medicinal herb. It may be the most powerful herb on the planet. I’m not the only one who thinks this, there are over 10,000 peer reviewed articles published about turmeric and it’s living healing compounds found within. These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.

Curcumin has been researched for many numerous benefits such as:

  • Reducing inflammation: Curcumin has been shown to be as powerful as pharmaceutical drugs for fighting inflammation but without the side effects.
  • Improving anti-oxidant effects: Curcumin and other curcuminoids are powerful antioxidants that may improve your antioxidant status. Oxidative damage caused by free radicals is believed to cause many diseases and can speed up aging. Due to it’s chemical structure, curcumin can neutralize free radicals.  Curcumin can also boost the body’s natural anti-oxidant enzymes providing a double dose against free radicals.
  • Improving blood vessel function: Studies suggest that curcumin supplements may promote the dilation of blood vessels, increasing blood flow and reducing blood pressure.
  • Antidepressant: Curcumin was tolerated well and as effective as Prozac in this trial study.
  • Reducing heart attack risk: May reduce the risk of heart attacks through the anti-inflammatory effects. . Although short term inflammation is the body’s natural and beneficial way to cope in the short term, it becomes a problem when it is chronic. This long term chronic type of inflammation is then inappropriately attacking the body’s own tissues. Curcumin blocks NF-kB, a molecule that turns on genes related to inflammation and is believed to play major role in chronic diseases.  It is believed that chronic, low level inflammation is the cause of many diseases such as cancer, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. Therefore, anything to help fight chronic inflammation is potentially preventing these diseases.
  • And many more:

Best ways to get curcumin

Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, is fat soluble, so it is a good idea to take with healthy fats. The absorption of curcumin is enhanced 2000% when consumed with piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper.

Our family loves to get our daily turmeric in my “golden tea”.

  • 1 inch of each fresh turmeric and ginger root, either grated or finely diced and some freshly cracked black pepper brought to boil in a small saucepan. Let simmer for 10 minutes. I then simply strain and add honey and little coconut milk (remember, healthy fats aid absorption) to taste if desired.  This is also very yummy chilled drink.

 

Can a person get too much turmeric?

I believe anything, even the best things in life, can be bad in excess. There are some people who have allergies to very good things even turmeric and pepper but, there are a few side effects to be aware of also. Turmeric as a spice to use in curry or tea is mild enough to consume daily.

If you choose to take a supplement form of turmeric be aware that it is a very concentrated form of curcumin that could be the equivalent of eating pounds of the fabulous spice.  If you already have hypotension or low blood pressure curcumin supplements can naturally lower blood pressures. High doses can also cause stomach upset, diarrhea, rash or headache.   Turmeric contains around 2% oxalate. At high doses, as in supplements, this may cause kidney stones in people prone to those. Extremely high doses cause inflammation in rats (ironically, what we are trying to reduce) and discolored their fur in this study.As with any herb or natural supplement, let your doctor know you are taking.

 

Additionally, not all commercial turmeric powders in the spice isle are created equal. Some are adulterer with cheaper and potentially toxic ingredients. Some commercial turmeric have fillers. Fillers such as wheat, barley, rye or corn starch may cause allergic reactions or adverse symptoms in those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Some turmeric from India is treated with food colorant, metanil, which can cause cancer or neurological damage in high amounts. This colorant is not legal in the USA or Europe. Be sure to read the label for fillers and to avoid the colorant used in India, simply buy spices labeled by USDA.

Research supplements through NSF InternationalInformed Choice and the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). Look for their seal on the packaging of products, or go to their websites to see what supplements they've certified.

 

This health tip brought to you by Dr. Shauna Lover DC. Mobile chiropractor to the Big Island.

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