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If you’ve ever eaten curry, you’re likely no stranger to turmeric.

Not only does this spice lend its distinct flavour and rich golden colour to delicious curry dishes, it’s also played an important role in ancient medical practices like Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

The use of turmeric dates back nearly 4000 years to the Vedic culture in India, where it was not only used as a culinary spice but had some religious significance as well, and was revered for its medicinal properties.

Susruta’s Ayurvedic Compendium, dating back to 250 BC, recommends an ointment containing turmeric to relieve the symptoms of food poisoning.

In more recent years, turmeric has made quite the comeback – and for good reason.

Science has now backed up many of the health claims that eastern medical practitioners have known for years. In fact, turmeric is now one of the most-well researched herbal remedies in the world, and has been used to treat a wide variety of health concerns.

The healing properties of turmeric can be attributed to its curcuminoids – namely curcumin, the main active ingredient.

Note that much of the research has been done using turmeric extracts that are standardized to contain a high amount of curcumin.

While using turmeric as a culinary spice in recipes would still provide some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefit, in order to experience the full effects listed below you would want to supplement with a standardized extract found in many health food stores.

Here are some of the key benefits of turmeric:

It’s an Anti-Inflammatory Powerhouse.

Chronic inflammation is a known contributor to many common Western diseases including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and various others. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit NF-kB, a molecule that turns on genes related to inflammation and believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases. It’s also been shown to be as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs.

It’s an Antioxidant.

Antioxidants are beneficial because they neutralize the free radicals that cause tissue damage and accelerate the aging process in the body. Not only does turmeric acts as an antioxidant itself, but it also stimulates the body’s own innate antioxidant production.

It Supports Brain Health.

Curcumin can boost levels of the hormone Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain. Many common brain disorders including depression and Alzheimer’s disease have been linked to decreased levels of this hormone.

It Relieves Arthritis Pain.

Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by joint inflammation. Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound, it makes sense that it could help with arthritic pain. In fact, various studies show that it can help treat symptoms of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Elaine Brisebois
About the Author

Elaine is a Certified Nutritionist and Women’s Health Coach. She works with clients across the globe to help them improve their health and relationship with food. Elaine believes in a real food approach to health that is rooted in optimizing digestion and includes ongoing and intelligent cleansing. You can download her FREE Hip, Healthy & Holistic Makeover Guide to learn 5 simple things you can do every day to lose weight, increase energy, kick cravings, and feel beautiful inside & out.