What is Turmeric?
Turmeric comes from the root of a tropical perennial plant called “Curcuma Longa”. It looks almost identical to its cousin the ginger root, only it’s a lovely golden-orange color. Most of us recognize this color in curry powder and curry dishes. Additionally, farmers cultivate turmeric in several tropical regions including India, where they produce the majority and the finest quality of the root.
For several years, many have considered turmeric one of the most important super-foods around. Curcumin, the active ingredient and a naturally occurring phenol (plant antioxidant), provides its beautiful color and its innate healing properties. Research cited by Johns Hopkins on turmeric links it to reduced inflammation in the brain. This means it could be a very important preventive measure for Alzheimer’s and depression. Curcumin may also be effective at reducing the pain and swelling of arthritis and helping to prevent and treat cancer.
Around the world, turmeric is well recognized for its therapeutic properties. It is often taken on its own or with black pepper and/or ginger to aid absorption and healing. In Okinawa, Japan, where people tend to live very long lives, they consume turmeric tea daily.
Health Benefits of Turmeric:
Because of its high concentration of curcumin, turmeric contains many health benefits. In the ancient practice of Ayurveda, a variety of culinary delights and dietary supplements use turmeric and often combine it synergistically with other roots, spices and herbs. Many body care products also use turmeric as an ingredient. As in Ayurveda, doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine have used turmeric to help move stagnant (stuck) energy, clearing the body’s natural pathways and channels so energy can flow freely. This supports balance and well-being.
“Why is Turmeric Good for Me?” is the title of this WebMD article, explaining that turmeric is an anti-inflammatory that could be used for cancer prevention and treatment as well as arthritis and infections. It points out that turmeric is potentially an important agent in preventing, managing and treating cystic fibrosis and various cardiovascular and neurological diseases. And while they note that it seems counterintuitive, turmeric “makes a great anti-acne cleanser and face wash”.
This NIH-published article states that curcumin has received worldwide attention for its multiple health benefits, which stem from its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. It can help manage oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety and hyperlipidemia. Curcumin acts best when combined with certain other agents like piperine (from black pepper). This makes it easier to absorb and more bio-available. So, remember to use turmeric in combination with black pepper for best results.