Turmeric is a plant which is part of the ginger family. This orange coloured spice is considered by many in the know to be one of the best foods (or supplements) that you can consume for good health. Common in Middle Eastern and South Asia, turmeric has been used as a staple in many recipes for thousands of years.
It is the rhizome (underground stem) of the plant that has therapeutic benefits. The rhizomes are boiled for several hours, and then dried in hot ovens and ground into a bright yellow powder – it is the key ingredient in curry powder.
For centuries, Indian and Chinese medicines have used turmeric as a natural remedy to clear inflammation and infection both inside and outside the body. Thankfully, Western medical practitioners are now coming on board and recognising the benefits of this amazing plant. The holistic health community has known of the benefits of turmeric for many years and now, thanks to more scientific research being conducted, the use of this powerful spice is becoming more common in other areas of medicine.
Turmeric is extremely effective at naturally detoxifing the liver. It is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available and shares similar liver protectant compounds that St Mary’s Thistle and globe artichoke leaves contain. Said to shrink engorged hepatic ducts, turmeric can be useful to treat liver conditions such as cirrhosis, hepatitis and jaundice.
Another extremely impressive health benefit of turmeric, is the repeated research which shows that turmeric is a powerful cancer fighter. In more than nine studies, it has been shown to decrease brain tumour size in animals by over 80%.
Recently, doctors at UCLA found that curcumin, the main component in turmeric, is a natural anticancer compound and is able to block cancer growth.
Curcumin has also been found to have astonishing properties which help prevent breast cancer by reducing the expression of deadly molecules within cancer cells – this means that it can potentially slow the spread of breast cancer. Curcumin has the ability to attach itself to breast cell receptors and prevent oestrogenic chemicals like DDT and dioxin from binding there.
This amazing spice is a natural painkiller which helps with joint pain as well as auto immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. A 2006 study which examined the effect of turmeric on rats with injected rheumatoid arthritis showed that pretreatment with turmeric completely inhibited the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in the rats. This study also showed that when turmeric was used for pre-existing rheumatoid arthritis, there was a significant reduction in symptoms.
Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make turmeric idea for use as an antiseptic in home remedies for wounds. Turmeric may also be beneficial in treating skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis.
Research is continuing into this amazing spice and, thus far, is beginning to show that turmeric may be effective at protecting against diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.