Turmeric

 In Brain/Nervous & Psychological System, Heart & Circulatory System, Lungs & Respiratory System, Digestive System, Urinary System, Reproductive system, Endocrine System, Skeletal Sytem & Muscles, Immune System, Skin, Hair, & Nails

What Exactly Is Turmeric?

Turmeric is an Asian herb/spice commonly used as the basis for curry powder. Turmeric has a slightly warm, bitter taste. It also provides a yellow color, and it’s used as an additive for cheese, butter, mustard and curry powder.

Turmeric isn’t just simply an addition for foods, it may also have a role in helping to improve some health conditions.

Fresh turmeric root, and ground herb

What Does Turmeric Do in the Body?

Chronic, low-grade inflammation has been implicated in several health problems.  Turmeric has a component, called curcumin, that helps to reduce generalized inflammation.  Scientists and doctors believe this herb can aid people who have medical conditions, diseases and disorders that involve inflammation or swelling.

 

What Conditions Does Turmeric Alleviate?

Current medical science says turmeric is possibly effective as a treatment to improve cholesterol problems.

Turmeric might also help with osteoarthritis. Turmeric extracts, either alone or in combination with other herbal ingredients, could reduce pain associated with this condition. In some patients, turmeric worked just as well as ibuprofen when treating osteoarthritis.

Current medical science doesn’t have enough information regarding other medical maladies. Patients might consider consuming turmeric as an adjunct treatment for other inflammatory conditions such as: acne, Crohn’s disease, depression, pre-diabetes, gum disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and lupus. All of these medical conditions have chronic inflammation as a root cause.

Patients might use turmeric extract as a topical medication on the skin rather than as something to consume. Some supplements may have topical creams or ointments that contain turmeric or curcumin.

People should always check with their doctor before starting any dietary regimen or taking supplements. Although there is plenty of information online, licensed physicians know the latest research and their patients’ medical history. Consumers should understand that supplements affect everyone differently because each person’s body is unique.

 

How Do People Get More Turmeric in Their Diets?

There are numerous ways for people to add turmeric to their diet. Grocery store shelves may have supplements of turmeric or curcumin in concentrated form. These extracts come in capsules, tablets or liquids.

For cholesterol, medical science says people should take 1.4 grams of turmeric every day divided into two doses. Patients may take up to 1.5 grams of turmeric daily for eight weeks for itching associated with long-term kidney disease. Patients should consider 500 milligrams of turmeric, four times daily for up to six weeks, for osteoarthritis.

Curry has a unique flavor and aroma. People who like the taste of curry powder might consider using this herb more often as an addition to beef, chicken, pork, lamb and even baked vegetables. Baked potatoes sprinkled with curry are an interesting take on a common food.

Grocery stores put ground curry in the baking or spices section. People can find turmeric root in a natural or health food store. Yellow-colored foods could contain curcumin, which means people should read the ingredient label to see if curcumin is in a particular food.

 

What Are the Risks of Adding Turmeric to a Diet?

Turmeric may interfere with drugs that slow down the process of blood clotting. Patients should discuss turmeric with their doctors if they take anti-coagulants (a.k.a blood thinning medications) before increasing the intake of turmeric. Adding turmeric to a diet, along with medications that slow blood clotting, might increase someone’s risk of bruising and bleeding. Blood-thinning medications include (but are not limited to) aspirin, Plavix, ibuprofen, naproxen, heparin and warfarin (Coumadin).

Pregnant women should avoid increasing their intake of turmeric. People with gallbladder problems might make the problem worse if they consume more turmeric. Curcumin might lower someone’s blood sugar, so patients who take diabetes medication should use turmeric supplements carefully. Someone should not take turmeric if a person suffers from acid reflux disease as it could make those symptoms worse.

 

Conclusion

If someone already uses curry as a spice in cooking, that’s a good start to getting benefits of turmeric. People should consider adding curry to more foods. Patients must use caution when deciding to consume supplements because extracts and pills have much higher concentrations of curcumin compared to food-grade curry powder. Anyone who experiences adverse reactions upon taking a turmeric supplement should consult with their doctor immediately.

 

Sources:

 

Araujo CC, Leon LL. Biological activities of Curcuma longa L. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 2001;96:723-8.

 

Fetrow CW, Avila JR. Professional’s Handbook of Complementary & Alternative Medicines. 1st ed. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corp., 1999.

 

Kulkarni RR, Patki PS, Jog VP, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with a herbomineral formulation: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. J Ethnopharmacol 1991;33:91-5.

 

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Turmeric,” reviewed on September 2016. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/turmeric/ataglance.htm

 

Surh YJ. Anti-tumor promoting potential of selected spice ingredients with antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activities: a short review. Food Chem Toxicol 2002;40:1091-7.

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