Turmeric is a bright, golden yellow spice that is full of flavor and health benefits! The spice is used in culinary dishes and is commonly taken as a supplement as it is able to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system and reduce the risk of other diseases.
Turmeric comes from a flowering plant called Curcuma longa and is grown in Southeast Asia. Today, roughly 80% of the world’s turmeric comes from India, with the majority coming from a city called Erode. Erode, located in South India, is the largest turmeric producer globally and known as “Turmeric City.” This yellow spice has a strong, slightly spicy flavor and is part of the ginger family. The rhizomes from the plant are used in cooking and contain plenty of nutrients and antioxidants. Ancient medicine like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha medicine have used turmeric for over 4000 years. Historically it has been a popular ingredient in folk medicine, incorporated in recipes, used as a yellow dye, and used in religious ceremonies and rituals.
Thanks to its active ingredient, curcumin, the spice has been dubbed one of the most effective nutritional supplements in existence. Curcumin gives turmeric its vibrant color and contains a special polyphenolic compound. This compound is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes harmful free radicals. As a result, it inhibits inflammation and inflammatory diseases. In addition, curcumin is able to inhibit the enzymes that cause inflammation and reduce blood sugar.
Although it tastes great in curry dishes, studies have shown that adding the spice to your cooking isn’t enough to impact your health significantly. To reap the rewards of turmeric and curcumin, you need to have a more potent dose, and it should be combined with black pepper. Black pepper helps the body absorb and use curcumin so that it can reduce joint inflammation or improve arthritis. This is why many turmeric supplements also contain black pepper.
In addition to being taken as a capsule, turmeric is often ingested as a tea or warm beverage. A warm, creamy drink known as Golden Milk or Turmeric Milk is increasingly showing up on café menus and sold as a ready-made mix. The drink is relatively easy to make at home and usually uses non-dairy milk like almond or coconut. Turmeric is then mixed with black pepper, cinnamon, and a sweetener.
We can all benefit from having more turmeric in our diet. It is an incredible supplement that can be taken alongside your multivitamin or enjoyed in golden milk. It is also an excellent alternative to coffee in the morning or sipped before laying down on your hemp pillow at night.
Benefits of Turmeric
Research has found several health benefits associated with turmeric. It is a natural remedy that can improve your mind and body. It’s affordable, effective, and provides a wide range of benefits such as:
- Lowers your risk of heart disease
According to the CDC, heart disease is the cause of one of every four deaths in the United States. Fortunately, in addition to a healthy lifestyle, turmeric can help reverse the damage that causes heart disease. Turmeric can improve endothelium function, which is responsible for regulating blood pressure and blood clotting. When a person’s endothelium dysfunctions, it can lead to heart disease. Turmeric not only improves this function but also reduces oxidation and inflammation.
- Improves seasonal allergies
As spring and summer approach, many people start experiencing seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies can make a person feel sick, disrupting their daily lives significantly. In addition, they can keep you up and disrupt your sleep. The good news is you don’t need to start taking strong allergy meds that can make you sleepy. As mentioned, turmeric reduces inflammation and can reduce irritation and swelling caused by allergies. Experts recommend combining turmeric with ginger to soothe eyes, throat, and nasal passages. Making adjustments to your bedding and sleeping environment can also help reduce allergies. Read more on our blog here.
- Reduces inflammation and treats inflammation-related diseases
Chronic inflammation is all too common and is connected to many common diseases. The active ingredient curcumin blocks a molecule called NF-kB, which turns on inflammation genes. Studies have found that turmeric supplements have a comparable anti-inflammatory effect as medications like aspirin and ibuprofen. Research has also found that because of its anti-inflammatory effect, it can treat diseases like bowel disease and pancreatitis.
- Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease
Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, research has found ways to prevent it. Oxidation and inflammation have been found to contribute to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Additionally, research has found that a brain with Alzheimer’s disease has a build-up of plaques. Turmeric can clear these plaques and reduce inflammation, helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. One clinical trial found that when curcumin was taken twice a day for 18 months, memory was improved in adults with dementia.
- Boosts brain function
In addition to preventing cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases, turmeric supplements can boost brain function. A growth hormone in our brain called brain-derive neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is responsible for forming connections and increasing the number of these connections. When BDNF decreases, brain disorders and depression can occur. The good news is by taking turmeric, you can increase levels of BDNF and even reverse the effects of brain-related conditions. Although more studies are needed, it is also believed to increase intelligence and mental clarity.
- Fights oxidative damage
Age-related diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease result from oxidative damage. This is caused by unpaired electrons and free radicals. This can be counteracted with antioxidants. The structure of curcumin increases antioxidants which protect the body from these free radicals.
- Reduces Arthritis symptoms and joint pain
Once again, turmeric’s anti-inflammatory abilities have a powerful impact on the body. Arthritis is considered an inflammatory disease that causes pain and even immobilization. The Arthritis Research & Therapy journal published a study in 2016 that found turmeric slowed the progression of osteoarthritis. Studies have also found that symptoms and pain are reduced when people with arthritis take turmeric supplements. Some research has even found turmeric to be more effective than common inflammatory drugs!
- Treats and prevents diabetes
Turmeric may also be able to prevent and treat diabetes. Diabetes is very prevalent in the United States, with approximately 37.3 million Americans having the disease. Research has found that turmeric supplements may be able to prevent and treat diabetes by increasing plasma and insulin and decreasing blood sugar. It can also target the inflammation that contributes to diabetes while simultaneously preventing hyperlipidemia, high blood sugar, and insulin resistance. One study that followed 240 prediabetic adults found that those who took curcumin supplements for nine months reduced their chance of developing diabetes.
- Reduces symptoms of depression
Turmeric is a natural remedy used to treat depression. Research has found that many natural supplements can be almost as or more effective than many prescription drugs. For example, a clinical trial with 60 people with depression was divided into three groups. One-third of the participants took turmeric, one-third took Prozac, and the final third took a combination of Prozac and turmeric. The trial went on for six weeks, and the final results showed that turmeric was just as effective as Prozac in reducing symptoms of depression. Turmeric can also reduce depression symptoms by raising levels of BDNF, which is linked to depression. By increasing levels of BDNF, neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are boosted.
- May prevent cancer
Some studies have suggested that curcumin could be a beneficial cancer treatment as it has been found to reduce the spread of cancer, the growth of blood vessels in tumors, and cause the death of cancerous cells. In addition to treatment, one study found that it may also prevent cancer, specifically cancers affecting the digestive system like colorectal cancer.
- Fights infection and strengthens the immune system
Turmeric supplements may help you ward off viruses and infections. Turmeric has prebiotic properties that make positive changes to the gut microbiota, supporting the gut-immune system. Further, by reducing cortisol levels, the immune system can function as it should. It is said to have an immune balancing effect that will help ward off the flu or viral infections.
Turmeric is very safe with a low risk of side effects. That said, you should always speak with your health care provider before taking any supplements with other medications. For example, when taken in large doses with blood pressure or diabetes drugs, it could have adverse effects.
From the natural hemp filling in your hemp pillow to your daily turmeric supplements, nature has provided countless substances to improve our health and wellness. Turmeric is an affordable , accessible and all-natural health supplement with incredible health benefits. When buying turmeric, you want to look for high-quality ingredients without any artificial fillers. Look for supplements that are GMO-free and free from nuts, gluten, and animal products. With a healthy diet, active lifestyle, solid sleep schedule and supplement regime you can improve health and wellness to feel your best.