Turmeric is a plant of the ginger family grown in temperatures ranging between 20 to 30 degrees celcius, typically in tropical South Asia where the turmeric health benefits have first been discovered. The part of the plants we get the spice we know as turmeric from are the rhizomes, which are sometimes used fresh, but mostly the rhizomes are boiled for several hours, dried in ovens, and then ground into the deep orange-yellow powder we are all familiar with.
As with many spices, turmeric has been known for centuries for its healing powers, and now in modern medicine is being studied extensively for different turmeric health benefits or side effects. According to the US National Institute of Health, there are currently 19 clinical trials to study the effects of culinary turmeric and curcumin (its active ingredient) for numerous clinical disorders. Among these disorders are Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer and arthritis. Lab tests have shown that turmeric has the ability to kill some types of cancer cells including the human leukemia cells. Speculation at this point in the studies is that it is possibly due to its antioxidant properties.
One of the popular turmeric health benefits is as an anti-inflammatory agent. By lowering histamine levels it helps keep inflammation in check for many disorders thus reducing joint pain. One possible turmeric benefits would be to help reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis and there are ongoing studies to test its effects.
One of the first tumeric health benefits that was discovered was when it became typically associated in traditional Indian medicine as a digestive aid, combating the effects of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and other disorders causing gastrointestinal discomfort. It was also used to aid ailments of the liver and has been shown in the lab to improve liver health when damaged by certain toxins, including alcohol, and to protect from further damage.
In Ayuverdic Medicine, a tradition style of medicine native to India, turmeric is used by the women to improve skin and hair, and is thought to have anti-aging benefits. They also use it as an antimicrobial and to rid themselves of excessive hair. Turmeric is also currently used in some sunscreen formulas.
When used in its raw form, another turmeric health benefits that will expose itself is it’s ability to strengthens cartilage and improves bone structure. Improved circulation is another health benefit to using turmeric. It contains antiplatelet properties which inhibit blood clots from forming, thus offering protection against heart attack and strokes.
With turmeric’s high concentration of antioxidants, it comes highly recommended when in need of combating free radicals, which makes it a definite consideration for your spice cabinet. Have some fun searching recipes in your cookbooks or online.
But as with any new addition to your diet or health regime, used in moderation it is mostly safe, however if you are taking supplements, it is always wise to discuss it with your doctor first. If you suffer from any of the following disorders or conditions, you should consult with your MD before using it in supplement form which might be the reason some people experience turmeric side effects.
• Congestive Heart disease with undetermined etiology
• Persons with gallstones, acute bilious colic, severe toxic liver disorders, obstructive jaundice
• Pregnant women or women who are nursing
• Persons with blood clotting disorders and are taking any kind of blood thinners
• If you take any other medications or have any other health issues
Turmeric is a safe herb and there are no known turmeric side effects, although if taking in large amounts you may experience some stomach upset. As it is not considered an essential nutrient, there is no “Recommended Daily Allowance” set, so it is best if you are taking supplements to follow the recommendations on the container.
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