Medical Benefits of Turmeric
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a perennial plant that produces dull, yellow flowers. It is related to the ginger plant family. Turmeric has a warm, bitter taste and is the main spice used in curry. It is also used to color certain foods, such as mustard, butter and cheese. Turmeric can be purchased as a nutritional supplement, but is more beneficial as a spice added to meals or consumed as a tea.
Turmeric’s main active ingredient is a natural compound called curcumin. Curcumin has a strong anti-inflammatory effect and boosts antioxidants in the body. Reduced inflammation and proper oxidation in the body reduces the risk of heart disease. Curcumin also reduces the risk of certain cancers. Additionally, it is sometimes more helpful than anti-inflammatory medications for those with rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin has also been proven to be an effective antidepressant.
Benefits of turmeric
Turmeric provides major benefits to the brain and body. It has been used as a medicinal herb in India for thousands of years. It has proven to help with various conditions, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Arthritic pain
- Blood sugar levels
- Cholesterol levels
- Crohn’s disease
- Diarrhea, gas and bloating
- Gallbladder disorders
- Hay fever
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
- Itching caused by kidney disease
- Joint pain
- Lung infections
- Menstrual problems
- Risk of heart attack following bypass surgery
- Skin problems and irritations
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
Turmeric supplements are usually safe and typically do not cause any significant side effects. Some people have reported abnormal heart rhythm, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. Turmeric is safe while pregnant and breastfeeding if consumed via food sources; however, if taken in a supplement form, it can stimulate the uterus and cause menstruation.
As with any medication, vitamin, or herb supplement, a thorough evaluation should be performed by a health care professional before taking turmeric supplement. Warnings include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Worsened gallbladder problems, especially if duct obstruction or gallstones are present
- Decreased blood clotting
- Lower blood sugar
- Heightened effects of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Exacerbated hormone-sensitive conditions
- Lowered testosterone
- Reduced absorption of iron
Use extra caution if taking turmeric with medications that thin the blood, dissolve blood clots, decrease blood sugar, or have anti-inflammatory properties, as dangerous side effects could occur.