10 Unexpected Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is an ancient root which was used for centuries in China and India, not only for making delicious curries, but also for medicinal purposes. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antioxidant qualities, making it ideal to treat a broad range of illnesses.

The health benefits of turmeric have been studied extensively – there are over 7,000 studies to date. What makes it even more special is that it has little to no side effects.

The bright yellow-orange spice is made from the root of the Curcuma langa plant, which is boiled, dried, and then ground into a powder. The curcumin in turmeric is what gives this spice its health benefits.

Turmeric Health Benefits

Turmeric is one of the few superfoods which can treat a wide variety of conditions. Here is a list of some of the most common illnesses turmeric and curcumin can help with:

  1. Chronic inflammation and pain: The anti-inflammatory compounds in curcumin fight inflammation on a molecular level. Inflammation plays a significant role in many chronic diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and metabolic syndrome.
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties which may prevent the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. A study conducted in Japan found that curcumin significantly reduced inflammatory markers in their test subjects. Turmeric can also help to reduce joint swelling and shorten morning stiffness.
  3. Cancer: There is evidence that turmeric may assist in preventing and treating cancer, although further studies need to be done. Curcumin may stop cancer cell growth, and boost antioxidant levels and the immune system, which may contribute to killing cancer cells.
  4. Brain health and memory: Turmeric improves the oxygen intake of the brain which increases memory function. Curcumin also boosts the levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which enhances the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain. This is especially good news for people with a risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  5. Cardiovascular protection: The curcumin in turmeric prevents oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Oxidized cholesterol damages the blood vessels and increases plaque buildup, which causes heart attacks and strokes. Curcumin also improves the functioning of endothelium, the lining of blood vessels.
  6. Immunity booster: The antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agents in turmeric strengthen our immune system. A strong immune system decreases our chances of catching colds and flu.
  7. Digestive system: Turmeric stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile, which improves digestion, and reduces gas and bloating. It can also treat certain forms of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s. The increased flow of bile helps with the breakdown of dietary fat.
  8. Diabetes: Turmeric lowers the blood glucose levels and reverses insulin resistance. A study done at Auburn University found that curcumin suppresses glucose production in the liver and aids in the prevention of diabetes. It also improves metabolism and reduces the buildup of toxin in the arteries.
  9. Skin health: Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory which can reduce redness and skin irritations. It also has antibacterial properties which balance the skin and treat blemishes and acne.
  10. Depression: Turmeric is a natural antidepressant. The curcumin in turmeric boosts your serotonin and dopamine levels. The Government Medical College in India did a study with 60 volunteers who suffered from major depressive disorder (MDD) and compared it with patients taking Prozac. It was found that turmeric is just as effective as Prozac, without all of Prozac’s side effects.

Daily Dosage

The daily dosage for adults is either one of the following:

Who would have thought that something on our spice rack could hold so many health benefits? Turmeric can enrich the taste of many dishes, so it won’t even feel like you’re taking medicine.

If you have any questions regarding the health benefits of turmeric or are seeking advice on other health conditions, do not hesitate to contact us. Dr. Payal Bhandari takes a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing when providing treatment.

{Photo credit: Simon A. Eugster}

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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