Turmeric is a spice most commonly found in Asian (primarily Indian) Cuisine. This golden-colored seasoning has an aromatic, pungent, and often bitter taste that you might recognize in your favorite curry dishes. In addition to packing a delightful punch to your take-out menu, turmeric has some incredible health benefits.
It acts as an anti-inflammatory
Turmeric has a chemical substance in it called curcumin (Watts, 2017). Curcumin acts primarily as an anti-inflammatory and is known to make a difference when dealing with sore muscles, inflamed and irritated skin, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and many other swelling-related ailments. Inflammation occurs as a protection mechanism our body uses against infection or “foreign organisms” (WebMD, 2005-2018). Curcumin works by inhibiting various molecules and pathways to decrease acid release and minimize the platelets in our white blood cells that are reacting to irritants. Turmeric works to decrease the effects of inflammation without harmful side effects.
Promotes wound healing
Along with being an excellent anti-inflammatory, curcumin also has antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties (Chainani-Wu, 2003). Turmeric can be used to treat sores, blisters and burns. In fact, an article published by the Journal of Wound Practice and Research cited a case where “a two-year child with ‘at least’ second degree burns to both hands after falling into a campfire commenced treatment four days later with an hourly application of curcumin ointment for 24 hours. This was followed by ‘frequent’ (not defined) applications at home. When reviewed at two weeks later there was evidence of rapid healing and at two months healing was complete with no erythema or scarring” (Watts, 2017). This same article suggested that turmeric can safely minimize foul odors that result from wounds.
Say goodbye to gingivitis
Dreading your next trip to the dentist? Turmeric can help you out there as well by helping to prevent gum disease. The Indian Journal of Dental Research offered a simple recipe to try: simply mix a compound of 1 tsp. turmeric, ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp mustard oil and rub it on your gums twice daily to treat gingivitis and periodontitis (receding gums) (Chainani-Wu, 2003).
Aids in disease prevention
Many studies suggest that curcumin has anti-cancer properties as well. An article by PR Newswire stated that “turmeric has been found to suppress cancer growth and reduce brain tumors by an astounding 81% without evidence of toxicity.” While its effects are not guaranteed, studies also show that turmeric may be helpful in fighting Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Arthritis, and Crohn’s Disease.
Is there anything this spice can’t do?
Turmeric is used for colds, bronchitis, fibromyalgia, worms, eye infections, bruising … the list goes on and on! While turmeric has a lot of powerful health benefits, these benefits don’t come from an occasional plate of curry. In one of the studies, researchers fed rats up to 30% of their diet in turmeric (Chainani-Wu, 2003). Thankfully, turmeric doesn’t appear to have any toxic effects. Even so, there are easy ways to moderately incorporate more turmeric into your diet in new and tasty ways. From homemade stir-frys and curries to turmeric lemonade and golden milk. If anything, you’ll expand your palette to a more exotic plane.
Chainani-Wu, N. (2003). Safety and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Curcumin: A Component of Tumeric (Curcuma longa). Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 9(1), 161-168.
Dance Magazine. (2017, December 01). A Smarter Anti-Inflamatory: Turmeric. Dance Magazine, p. 96.
Jibrin, J. R., & Bharadwaj, M. (2017, March). Healing Spices. Yoga Journal(290), 83-89.
Watts, R. (2017, September 01). Evidence Summary: Turmeric (Curcumin) in wound management. Wound Practice and Research, 25(3), 158-159.
WebMD. (2005-2018). What is Inflammation? Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation#1
WebMD. (2018). Find a Vitamin or Supplement: Turmeric. Retrieved February 2018, from webmd.com: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingredientid=662
(2012, February 2). Tumeric and Curcumin Offer Powerful Anti-Cancer Health Benefits Naturally; Inexpensive and widespread turmeric and curcumin spice offer many health benefits. PR Newswire (USA).