Turmeric — Curcumin an Anti-Inflammatory Superfood

Amanda Filipowicz
Sep 3, 2018 · 21 min read

Turmeric, the earthy herb of the sun, the golden spice of life this perennial root is native to Southeast Asia it is one of the most precious gifts from nature, used as a spice, food preservative, colouring agent and cosmetic. It is peppery, pungent, earthy, warm and bitter and today it is grown around the world, in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, South America and throughout the Carribean. Curcumin is the main active medicinal component in turmeric and is most plentiful in the root of the turmeric plant. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial for a number of ailments.

Health Benefits

Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Upset Stomach

Interactions

Consult your local physician if you are uncertain about whether you should take turmeric

Dosage

  • Children under 15: Turmeric is commonly consumed worldwide as it is a whole food. For clinical curcumin doses consult your local physician

Culinary/Dietary

Nutritional Constituents

Self Care

Turmeric a History

It is in India where it was first used as a dye for textiles. Its earliest noted use as a medicinal plant in Ayurvedic treatment was in 250 BC, where it was used to cure ailments that resulted from poisoning. It would eventually become a very important medicinal herb in both the Ancient Greek Unani and Indian Siddha medicinal practices. turmerics voyage out of India began around 300 BC when Alexander the Great entered diplomatic relations with several Indian states. From there it moved into Greece and further along the Spice Route eventually making its way into China in 700 AD. Turmeric enters Eastern Africa in 800 AD, the west of Africa in 1200 AD and it sailed across the ocean to land in Jamaica in the 18th century.

Turmeric influenced each society it arrived in, differently. Its principle medicinal properties may have in one way or another been translated and passed on to its new users, however, its culinary influence is distinct in each case. Traditionally in India, it was used as a cure-all for coughs, colds, sore throat, asthma, peptic ulcers and dyspepsia. They used it to rid the body of worms and as a topical paste to apply to the skin to reduce inflammation and aid in the healing of measles, chicken pox and smallpox. In the Greek Unani medicinal practice it was used as a blood purifier, aid for the cardiovascular system as well as a cleanser for the liver. Siddha used turmeric for its antioxidant benefits, boosting the immune system and revitalizing the body.

Classification and Cultivation

Turmeric is a herbaceous tropical plant, cultivated at a temperature of between 20–30 degrees Celsius and needing a great deal of water and irrigation. Although it grows very well in the shade, turmeric grows best and more bountifully in a field exposed to high amounts of sun. Turmeric root, the yellow herb is harvested between the months of January-March/April, with early varieties of the herb maturing within 7–8 months, which other varieties take a few months longer and mature within 8–9 months. When its leaves begin to change from green to yellow and the plant as a whole begins to wither it is essentially time to dig the root out of the ground and begin the process of curing the golden little fingerling spice.

Preservation of turmeric through curation

  • diminishing the growth of the fresh rhizome
  • hinder the bad odour
  • cut down on the initial drying time
  • gelatinize the starch to make it firmer
  • to allow it’s a golden yellow colour to spread through the root more evenly

The root is boiled for between 45 minutes to an hour in either a copper, iron or earthenware vat with enough water to ensure that all the rhizomes are submerged slightly. The drying process takes between 10 to 15 days and involves the root fingers to dry in the sun on bamboo mats. After the sun drying they are essentially ready to either be sold as a whole or ground into turmeric powder.

Turmeric Nutritional Constituents

It contains traces of various vitamins and minerals, however, it is richest in its sources of manganese, iron, vitamin B6, copper, fibre and potassium. Though the amounts may seem minimal one does not need to take a great deal of turmeric or curcumin to receive the benefits from this golden root.

Turmeric, ground

2.00 tsp

(4.40 g)

GI: very low

The secondary plant compounds are very prevalent in its essential oils. It contains approximately 2–5% curcuminoids, though there are some varieties of turmeric that can contain upwards of 9%, as well as a mixture of a-phellandrene at 1%, cineol at 1%, zingiberene at about 25%, sabinene at 0.6% and sesquiterpenes at 53%. Other compounds include aromatic-turmerones, a-turmerones, B-turmerones, a-santalene and aromatic curcumene. These oils provide the golden root and its derivative curcumin their beneficial health properties, making the herb a potent antioxidant, immune booster and inflammation reducer amongst other things.

Turmeric oleoresin

This is the organic extract of the root, orange-red in colour, which is made up of between 30–45% curcuminoid pigments and between 15–20% volatile oils. There is a range of volatile oils that include; 60% turmerone, 25% zingiberene, D-a-phellandrene, D-sabinene, cineole and farnesol.

Health Benefits

It has been shown to be beneficial at combating nausea, diarrhea, aiding in nutrient absorption and combating the symptoms of chemotherapy. it has been shown to be beneficial at enhancing brain health, improving memory, fighting Alzheimer’s Disease and reducing symptoms of Parkinson’s.

It Contains Curcumin — a Nutrient with Anti-inflammatory Properties

One of the limitations of curcumin is that it is poorly absorbed in the body. Curcumin is lipid soluble, without the addition of a fat it is not readily taken up by the body. One study suggested as much as 75% of curcumin was excreted after ingestion by rats, other similar studies found that a great deal of curcumin was excreted through urine and bile (Wahlstrom, B., et al., 1978). Though more supplement companies are developing curcumin to be more bioavailable upon consumption, it is good to make sure that the curcumin supplement contains fat, such as the essential oil — lipophilic turmerones, or that the whole root is consumed, as a pressed juice on in cooking.

Anti-inflammatory Benefits

Turmeric can also be applied topically to reduce inflammation associated with eczema and psoriasis. It is particularly beneficial for the topical treatment of acne. It’s anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties which can be obtained from using turmeric powder. Aid in reducing inflammation associated with acne as well as combating bacterial infections within the inflamed pores of the skin (Toden, S., et al., 2017).

Helps Reduce Inflammation and Pain for Individuals with Arthritis

As some forms of arthritis are an autoimmune disease, reducing inflammation in the colon can be an important place to start for alleviating pain and providing more movement within the body (Toden, S., et al., 2017).

Boosts the Immune System

Antioxidant Potential of Curcumin

Heart Benefits

Curcumin Reduces Symptoms of Alzheimer’s in patients

  • Increasing the ability of macrophages to eliminate/uptake plaque — boosting the immune system
  • Curcumin has a lipophilic characteristic that allows it to move through all cell membranes delivering benefits within the cells and possess anti-proliferative actions on microglia. A small amount of curcumin affects neuroglial proliferation and differentiation.
  • Aids in reducing inflammation of nerve cells, which is the chronic issue of Alzheimer’s
  • Aids in the elimination and formation of free radicals in the body
  • Eases symptoms of Alzheimer’s that are attributed to oxidation and inflammation
  • Protects brain mitochondria from oxidative damage
  • Aids in the removal of heavy metals (cadmium and lead) from the body and aids in detoxification. This reduces the toxic load for Alzheimer’s patients and aids in the reduction of their symptoms.
  • Aids in balancing cholesterol levels

All across the board curcumin and turmeric alike have shown to be very beneficial for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, even with the spice/herb is taken in small doses, as a food source such as in curry or in larger doses as in the form of the more potent curcumin.

Reduces Inflammation of the Gums and Helps Support Oral Health

  • Topically applied to gums to reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Pain is relieved by rinsing the mouth with turmeric powder
  • Powdered root has shown to strengthen gums and aid in the elimination of gingivitis and periodontitis
  • Aid in the prevention and removal of plaque from teeth
  • A natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent

There is no toxicity with the use of the whole root (however it may have interactions with certain medications, such as blood thinners so speak with your family health physician before supplementing with turmeric or curcumin) so its benefits cannot be overlooked. Oral health, after all, is the first step to overall wellness and well being within and outside of the body.

Reduces Inflammation of the Digestive System

Irritable Bowel Syndrom affects about 45 million Americans each year, with disorders that include Ulcerative colitis and Chrones Disease. Its symptoms include extensive and prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract, often associated with the presence of ulcers or sores appearing along the digestive tract. Symptoms include; diarrhea, abdominal and rectal pain as well as cramping. Although curcumin extract does aid in reducing inflammation, the presence of essential turmeric oil increases its bioavailability and provides superior anti-inflammatory efficacy. (Toden, S., 2017).

Turmeric Promotes Proper Digestion

Curcumin Shown to Reduce Anxiety and Aid Individuals with Depression

Reduces Oxidative Stress and Free Radical Damage — which Reduces the Risk of Cancer

  • Because it aid in reducing inflammation and pain curcumin and turmeric alike work somewhat similarly to a corticosteroid, however instead of preventing white blood cells from coming to the affected area they allow them to come and aid in their battle against unwanted cells — such as tumours
  • Has been shown to prevent breast cancer cells from spreading to the lungs
  • Aids in the prevention of childhood leukemia
  • Curcumin has been shown to be potentially effective against the prevention of multiple myeloma which has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumours
    The herb’s ability to eliminate heavy metals from the body and support detoxification aids in the reduction of the body’s toxic load — a cleaner body, with more oxygen available and higher antioxidant count allow for a heightened defence and greater prevention of cancer as well as aid in its elimination.

Even if one is partaking in chemotherapy it is beneficial to add turmeric or curcumin to your post-surgery, surgery and recovery journey. The slightest bit of help to the body will make a world of difference, so throw this delightful golden yellow herb into your daily regiment and start reaping the benefits.

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death globally. A whole food diet rich in organic vegetable and fruits with a reduction in processed foods has been shown to be beneficial for some individuals at risk of/ or with colorectal cancer. However, high-risk individuals may not receive enough risk-reducing benefits from whole foods, supplementation of curcumin extract has been shown to provide a chemopreventative action during progressive stages of colon cancer (Kawamari, T., et al., 1999) (Cheng, A.L., et al., 2001).

Benefits for Skin

Applied topically, as a spot treatment, salve or masks is effective in the treatment of acne, rashes, eczema, pimples, psoriasis, fungal infections and it has been known to discourage the growth of facial hair (eds. Ravindran, P.N., et al., 2007) (which can be beneficial for individuals with hypertrichosis or hirsutism — a turmeric mask would need to be applied daily for at least a month to see results) (Dayal, R., 2008). Tumeric aids in healing and cleansing the skin through assisting in the skins ability to detoxify. Daily we are exposed to hundreds of different environmental toxins and pollutants that clog our pores making it hard for skin to breath and cleanse itself.

Curcumin the active compound in turmeric possesses anti-ageing benefits. Premature ageing is often a result of environmental factors and skins inability to detox as well as a lack of sufficient nutrients. Topically curcumin has been shown to prevent free radical damage, aid in the prevention of skins water loss, provides skin with a natural SPF of 15, protects skin against the appearance of wrinkles, aids in a youthful appearance and promotes glowing skin (Mukherjee, P.K., et al., 2011).

Hormone Balancing Benefits

Caution

References

Banandon, B. (2016). Turmeric for Health. 100 Amazing and Unexpected Uses of Turmeric. Simon and Schuster: New York.

Chaturvedi, T. (2009). Uses of turmeric in dentistry: An update.Indian Journal of Dental Research,20(1), 107.

Cheng, A.L., Hsu, C.H., Lin, J.K., Hsu, M.M., Ho, Y.F., Shen, T.S., Ko, J.Y., Lin, B.R., Ming-Shiang, W., Yu, H.S., Jee, S.H., Chen, G.S., Chen, T.M., Chen, C.A., Lai, M.K., Pu, Y.S., Pan, M.H., Wang, Y.J., Tsai, C.C., Hsieh, C.Y. (2001). Phase 1 clinical trial of curcumin, a chemopreventative agent in patients with high-risk or pre-malignant lesions. Anticancer Research. Volume 21, Issue 4B, pages 2895–2900.

Dalby, A. (2004). Dangerous tastes: the story of spices. London: British Museum Press.

Dayal, R. (2008). Natural Beauty Secrets from India: Easy Economical and Effective Head to Toe. Tate Publishing and Enterprise: Oklahoma.Graf, J. (2000). Herbal Anti-inflammatory Agents for Skin Disease. Dermatology. Volume 5, Issue 4.

Hishikawa, N., Takahashi, Y., Amakusa, Y., Tanno, Y., Tuji, Y., Niwa, H., Murakami, N., & Krishna, U.K. (2012). Effects of turmeric on Alzheimer’s disease with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. AYU. 33 (4) pages 499–504.

Hugar, S.S. & Metgud, R. (2015). Turmeric in Dentistry.International Journal of Science and Research. Vol 4, Issue 6, pages 2553–2557

Kawamari, T., Lybet, R., Steele, V.E., Kelloff, G.J., Kaskey, R.B., Rao, C.V., Reddy, B.S. (1999). Chemopreventative Effect of Curcumin, A Naturally Occurring Antiinflammatory Agent, during the Promotion/Progression Stages of Colon Cancer. American Association For Cancer Research. Volume 59, Issue 3.

Krishnaswamy, K. (2008). Traditional Indian spices and their health significance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr;17(S1):265–268. Online Available at PubMed.

Kuttan, R., Bhanumathy, P., Nirmala, K., & George, M. (1985). Potential anticancer activity of turmeric (Curcuma longa).Cancer Letters,29(2), 197–202.

Lopresti, A.L., Drummond, P.D. (2017). Efficacy of curcumin, and a saffron?curcumin combination for the treatment of major depression: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Journal of Affective Disorders. Volume 207. pages 188–196.

Maxwell, S. R., & Lip, G. Y. (1997). Free radicals and antioxidants in cardiovascular disease. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 44(4), 307–17. Online Available at PubMed.

Mishra, S., & Palanivelu, K. (2008). The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview.Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology,11(1), 13. Online Available at PubMed.

Mukherjee, P.K., Maity, N., Nema, N.K., Sarkar, B.K. (2011). Bioactive Compounds from Natural Resources Against Skin Aging. Phytomedicine. Volume 19, Issue 1, page 64–73. Online available at PubMed.

Nair, F.P.D. (2013). The Agronomy and Economy of Turmeric and Ginger. Elsevier Insights: Maine.

Ng, Q.X., Koh, S.S.H., Chan, H.W., Ho., C.Y.X. (2017). Clinical Use of Curcumin in Depression: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. Volume 18, Issue 6, pages 503–508. Online Available at Science Direct.

eds. Ravindran, P.N., Nirmal Babu, K., Sivaraman, K. (2007). Turmeric The Genus Curcuma. CRC Press: Florida.

Ruby, A., Kuttan, G., Babu, K. D., Rajasekharan, K., & Kuttan, R. (1995). Anti-tumour and antioxidant activity of natural curcuminoids.Cancer Letters,94(1), 79–83. Online Available at PubMed.

Saber, H., Sen, C.T. (2014). Turmeric the Wonder Spice. Agate Digital: Chicago.

Singletary, K. (2010). Turmeric. Nutrition Today,45(5), 216–225.

Sood, S., & Nagpal, M. (2013). Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview.Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine,4(1), 3. Online Available at PubMed.

Toden, S., Theiss, A.L., Wang, X., Goel, A. (2017). Essential Turmeric Oils Enhance Antiinflammatory Efficacy of curcumin in dextran sulphate sodium-induced colitis. Scientific Report. Volume 7, Article Number 814.

Wahlstrom, B., Blennow, G. (1978). A study on the fate of curcumin in rat. Actual Pharmacology and Toxicology. Volume 43, Issue 2, pages 86–92.

Yadav, R.P., & Tarun, G. (2017). Versatility of turmeric: A Review the golden spice of life. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry; 6(1): 41–46.

Yue, G.G., Cheng, S.W., Yu, H., Xu, Z.S., Lee, J.K.M., Hon, P.M., Lee, M.Y.H., Kennelley, E.J., Deng, G., Yueng, S.K., Cassileth, B.R., Fung, K.P., Leung, P.C., Lau, C.B.S., (2012). The Role of Turmerones on Curcumin Transportation and P-Glycoprotein Activities in Intestinal Caco-2 cells. Journal of Medicinal Food. Volume 15, Issue 3, pages 242–252.

Dalby, A. (2004). Dangerous tastes: the story of spices. London: British Museum Press.

Dayal, R. (2008). Natural Beauty Secrets from India: Easy Economical and Effective Head to Toe. Tate Publishing and Enterprise: Oklahoma.Graf, J. (2000). Herbal Anti-inflammatory Agents for Skin Disease. Dermatology. Volume 5, Issue 4.

Hishikawa, N., Takahashi, Y., Amakusa, Y., Tanno, Y., Tuji, Y., Niwa, H., Murakami, N., & Krishna, U.K. (2012). Effects of turmeric on Alzheimer’s disease with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. AYU. 33 (4) pages 499-504.

Hugar, S.S. & Metgud, R. (2015). Turmeric in Dentistry.International Journal of Science and Research. Vol 4, Issue 6, pages 2553-2557

Kawamari, T., Lybet, R., Steele, V.E., Kelloff, G.J., Kaskey, R.B., Rao, C.V., Reddy, B.S. (1999). Chemopreventative Effect of Curcumin, A Naturally Occurring Antiinflammatory Agent, during the Promotion/Progression Stages of Colon Cancer. American Association For Cancer Research. Volume 59, Issue 3.

Krishnaswamy, K. (2008). Traditional Indian spices and their health significance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr;17(S1):265-268. Online Available at PubMed.

Kuttan, R., Bhanumathy, P., Nirmala, K., & George, M. (1985). Potential anticancer activity of turmeric (Curcuma longa).Cancer Letters,29(2), 197-202.

Lopresti, A.L., Drummond, P.D. (2017). Efficacy of curcumin, and a saffron?curcumin combination for the treatment of major depression: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Journal of Affective Disorders. Volume 207. pages 188-196.

Maxwell, S. R., & Lip, G. Y. (1997). Free radicals and antioxidants in cardiovascular disease. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 44(4), 307-17. Online Available at PubMed.

Mishra, S., & Palanivelu, K. (2008). The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview.Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology,11(1), 13. Online Available at PubMed.

Amanda Filipowicz

Written by

Certified Nutritional Practitioner. Definitive source for information on healthy holistic living. Editor @ https://holistickenko.com/