The Real Deal with Turmeric

Turmeric, a root plant in the ginger family, has been used for centuries in Indian cooking as a spice (usually found in curry), but also as a treatment for a variety of ailments, from headaches, to arthritis, to the common cold!

So what is this supposed wonder-spice, and how does it really work? Well, the power really lies in a chemical called curcumin. Although most normal servings of Turmeric in spice form don’t have enough curcumin to really be seriously effective. This is why experts suggest a curcumin extract or supplement, in dosages of around 1 gram per day. Many of these extracts will also include black pepper extract, which contains a molecule called piperidine that blocks enzymes that normally attack the curcumin molecules, allowing it to absorb more effectively into the body. There are many different extracts available on the market, so make sure you are checking the dosage and ingredients to find the right fit for you.

Because you will certainly want to make sure you are getting every last drop out of this wonder supplement! Curcumin is thought to have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which together can help in many aspects of maintaining a healthy body. Chronic inflammation is thought to play a key role in many chronic diseases, and antioxidants have been proven to decrease free-radicals in the body, which can help in fighting off cancer cells.

Here are some top uses for Curcumin:

  • Powerful antioxidant: Not only does curcumin fight free radicals, but it also boosts the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.
  • Brain Health: It has recently been discovered that a protein in the brain called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), is responsible for maintaining neuronal growth, which can prevent degenerative brain diseases like alzheimer’s. The good news — curcumin has been found to increase levels of BDNF, helping to prevent, and possibly even reverse brain denigration.
  • Heart Health: Curcumin has also been found to have positive effects on many factors that cause heart disease, such as inflammation of arteries, and decreasing levels of plaque in the blood stream.
  • Arthritis Relief: Studies show the anti-inflammatory properties can ease arthritis pain, but might be more effective at preventing joint pain, and boosting immune system responses.

So the verdict: rubbing copious amounts of turmeric paste on your joint pain, or eating a lot of curry probably won’t have stellar effects on the ailments you are trying to cure, but a healthy dosage of the curcumin supplement could have lasting effects — both preventative and restorative — on a whole slew of diseases and chronic conditions.

Written by Olivia Murphy

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