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Could Turmeric Be The Ultimate ‘Super-Spice’

by Sebastian Pole(more info)

listed in herbal medicine, originally published in issue 234 - November 2016

Most of us know of turmeric as the bright yellow spice used in curry. But recent studies on turmeric’s incredible health benefits now prove it does much more than just flavour our food. In India, turmeric is known as ‘the Golden Goddess’ and has been recommended for over 4,000 years by Ayurvedic practitioners as a therapeutic medicine to increase vitality, protect the body and reduce inflammatory disorders.

Turmeric contains a unique blend of curcuminoids, which is what gives this radiant root its characteristic vibrant yellow colour.  There are over 200 compounds found in turmeric, which work in synergy within the body as antioxidants and strong anti-inflammatories to repair and rejuvenate your health.

Turmeric

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The Health-Supporting Properties of Turmeric

Natural Painkiller

Turmeric is perhaps best known in herbal medicine for its anti-inflammatory activity. As inflammation is nearly always the cause of pain, reducing inflammation can help relieve pain. Turmeric may be particularly helpful for joint pain - including in both common types of arthritis (rheumatoid and osteoarthritis).[1] This makes it a popular choice for those with any inflamed, swollen and painful joint conditions, and a great all-rounder for helping to maintain healthy joints.

Turmeric has also been found to reduce pain after surgery,[2] and to help reduce abdominal pain in conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome [3]. Another of its traditional uses was to relieve chest pain.[4] And good news for the athletes among us (professional or recreational!): curcumin in turmeric has been found to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise.[5]

Digestion

Turmeric may have several benefits when it comes to digestion. As well as acting as an anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever, it may have a protective effect on the gut lining, helping to prevent ulcers[6] and reducing gut permeability (so-called ‘leaky gut’).[7] It has also been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic activity,[8, 9] which may help to prevent or reduce gut infections.

As well as being helpful for those with IBS (as mentioned above), turmeric or curcumin have shown potential to help those with inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as indigestion and peptic ulcers, and even Helicobacter pylori infection - the most common cause of digestive ulcers.[8]

Liver

Turmeric may have several benefits for the liver and for clearing toxins and wastes from the blood. In Ayurvedic medicine, it’s considered a ‘blood purifier’ for this reason.

Firstly, it’s thought that turmeric can increase the activity of enzymes in the liver that are responsible for removing toxins from the blood (known as phase II detoxification enzymes).[10] Turmeric also stimulates bile flow from the liver and gallbladder into the intestines so it can be excreted.[11] Bile not only supports our digestion (as bile helps to digest fats) but is our liver’s way of getting rid of the fat-soluble waste substances that it has filtered out of our blood. And curcumin in turmeric may also help to reduce fibrosis (scarring) in the liver, helping to keep it healthy and working normally.[12]

Wound Healing

Turmeric is also known for its skin-healing and wound-healing properties. It has been found to protect skin cells and the collagen-producing cells against free radical damage[13] and increase collagen deposits in the skin.[14]

Female Health

In India, turmeric has been traditionally used to support women’s hormonal health, and help those with conditions such as amenorrhoea (lack of periods),[15] fibroids, cysts, and endometriosis. Although there is little modern research on its use for these conditions, curcumin has been found in recent studies to specifically relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome[16, 17] and endometriosis.[18]

Joints

As we saw above, turmeric can be helpful for those with joint complaints, primarily thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect.

Heart

Turmeric may have multiple benefits for the heart too. Studies suggest that it can help to thin the blood, reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, and also prevent the damage to LDL cholesterol that may lead to cholesterol being deposited in the blood vessels.[1] As heart disease involves inflammation too (we can’t necessarily feel inflammation in our body!), the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric or curcumin may also play a role here.

Brain

India has one of the lowest levels of Alzheimer’s in the world. This is thought to be due in part to the daily consumption of small amounts of turmeric. Average consumption in India is about 1g per day.

A considerable amount of research has been carried out on turmeric for brain health, with some promising results - including its potential to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Although most studies have looked at curcumin in particular, it is thought that all the curcuminoids together may actually be more helpful than isolated curcumin for supporting brain health.[19]

Topical Use

Turmeric is excellent for reducing pain as a topical application in bruises, infections, sprains and pain. Use it carefully as it is very staining to the skin and anything it comes into contact with.

Traditional Use of Turmeric

Turmeric is traditionally consumed with black pepper or ginger, and/or milk or ghee. The other spices and the fat in the milk or ghee are thought to improve the absorption of turmeric and make it more effective. So, enjoying your whole turmeric with other spices or fats (these or other healthy fats) may be beneficial. 

Taking Turmeric Supplements

Most curcumin and turmeric supplements on the market today have been extracted with hexane, ethyl acetate, acetone or methanol. All have questionable environmental credentials as these processes also strip the other synergistic compounds that are essential in the gaining the full health benefits of the turmeric. More cutting-edge methods - such as Pukka Herbs organic Wholistic Turmeric extract - that combine super critical extraction with tincture extraction are by far the most natural, therapeutic and effective ways in capturing the best portfolio of a herbs natural constituents - from curcumin to all the essential oils - in order to get full potential of this incredible spice.  And it has been clinically validated to support may of the body’s natural anti-inflammatory systems in a safe and sustainable manner. Turmeric supplements can be taken on a daily basis to support overall good health. 

Wholistic Turmeric is a concentration of the finest parts of whole turmeric root gathered from fertile organic soils. This broad-spectrum formula contains the highest organic grade, sustainably cultivated herbs, carefully selected to bring you the full potential of nature’s goodness.

References

1. Henrotin Y et al. Curcumin: a new paradigm and therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of osteoarthritis: curcumin for osteoarthritis management. Springerplus. 2(1):56. Dec 2013.

2. Agarwal KA et al. Efficacy of turmeric (curcumin) in pain and postoperative fatigue after laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study. Surg Endosc. 25(12):3805-10. Dec 2011.

3. Bundy R et al. Turmeric extract may improve irritable bowel syndrome symptomology in otherwise healthy adults: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 10(6):1015-8.Dec 2004.

4. Aggarwal BB et al. Curcumin: the Indian solid gold. Adv Exp Med Biol. 595:1-75. 2007.

5. Nicol LM et al. Curcumin supplementation likely attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Eur J Appl Physiol. 115(8):1769-77. Aug 2015.

6 Tuorkey M, Karolin K. Anti-ulcer activity of curcumin on experimental gastric ulcer in rats and its effect on oxidative stress/antioxidant, IL-6 and enzyme activities. Biomed Environ Sci. 22(6):488-95. Dec 2009.

7. Patcharatrakul T, Gonlachanvit S. Chili Peppers, Curcumins, and Prebiotics in Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 18(4):19. Apr 2016.

8. Gupta SC et al. Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials. AAPS J. 15(1):195-218. Jan 2013.

9. Gupta SC et al. Discovery of curcumin, a component of golden spice, and its miraculous biological activities. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 39(3):283-99. Mar 2012.

10. Thangapazham RL et al. Skin regenerative potentials of curcumin. Biofactors. 39(1):141-9. Jan-Feb 2013.

11. Rasyid A, Lelo A. The effect of curcumin and placebo on human gall-bladder function: an ultrasound study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 13(2):245-9. Feb 1999.

12. Huang SS et al. Cannabinoid receptors are involved in the protective effect of a novel curcumin derivative C66 against CCl4-induced liver fibrosis. Eur J Pharmacol. 2. pii: S0014-2999(16)30110-8. Mar 2016.

13. Phan TT et al. Protective effects of curcumin against oxidative damage on skin cells in vitro: its implication for wound healing. J Trauma. 51(5):927-31. Nov 2001.

14. Akbik D et al. Curcumin as a wound healing agent. Life Sci. 116(1):1-7. 22 Oct 2014.

15. Pari L et al. Role of curcumin in health and disease. Arch Physiol Biochem. 114(2):127-49. April 2008.

16. Fanaei H et al. Effect of curcumin on serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in women with premenstrual syndrome: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Neuropeptides. 56:25-31. April 2016.

17. Khayat S et al. Curcumin attenuates severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 23(3):318-24. June 2015.

18. Zhang Y et al. Curcumin inhibits endometriosis endometrial cells by reducing estradiol production. Iran J Reprod Med. 11(5):415-22. May 2013.

19. Ahmed T, Gilani AH. Therapeutic potential of turmeric in Alzheimer's disease: curcumin or curcuminoids? Phytother Res. 28(4):517-25. April 2014.

Further Information

For more information on turmeric and other medicinal herbs visit www.pukkaherbs.com

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About Sebastian Pole

Sebastian Pole Lic OHM Ayur HC MAPA MRCHM MURHP is an Ayurvedic practitioner and Herbal Director of Pukka Herbs which offers 100% organic Ayurvedic remedies and teas, produced to high ethical standards, from herbs grown by farmers who are paid a fair wage. For more information, see www.pukkaherbs.com  or Tel: 0117 9640944. Sebastian's clinic is Tel:  01225 466944 or see his website for more information www.sebastianpole.com/

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