Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is perhaps most commonly associated with its anti-inflammatory actions in the context of its potential health benefits.
Turmeric is perhaps most commonly associated with its anti-inflammatory actions in the context of its potential health benefits. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, often causing localised redness, swelling, pain or heat. It may also cause loss of function of the involved tissues.
Acute inflammation is typically a protective and localised response to infection or injury. It is designed to heal the body and restore normal tissue function. Inflammation of the joints, including stiffness and swelling are common symptoms of arthritis. If inflammation persists for a prolonged period of time, it becomes chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can be the result of an infection, autoimmune reaction or allergy.
Studies have shown that curcumin, a compound in turmeric, may reduce inflammation in the body.
Curcumin is a polyphenol. As well as better regulation of inflammation, its other potential benefits include fighting the effects of oxidation (antioxidant activity), better cell signalling, more stable blood sugar and fat levels, and improved brain levels of the omega-3 fatty acid called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of curcumin have also been associated with improved regulation of blood pressure and decreased risk of several types of cardiovascular disease.
However, while once only focussed on the anti-inflammatory benefits, studies on turmeric intake now also include its potential for offering detoxification support and improving cognitive function, blood sugar balance and kidney function, as well as lessening the degree of severity associated with certain forms of arthritis and certain digestive disorders.
Turmeric includes three different curcuminoids: curcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin and demethoxycurcumin. It also contains volatile oils like tumerone, atlantone and zingiberone. These different substances are all associated with their own unique health benefits.
As a result of its properties (particularly anti-inflammatory actions), turmeric is used for a wide variety of health conditions including: arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, diarrhoea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disorders, high cholesterol, a skin condition called lichen planus and fatigue.
It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, itchy skin and recovery after surgery. Other uses include depression, water retention, worms, urinary bladder inflammation and kidney problems.
The dried powdered spice that many people use in cooking comes from the root (rhizome) portion of the plant – Curcuma longa. The unprocessed form of this root bears a strong resemblance to ginger root, and that resemblance is not a coincidence! Turmeric and ginger are both plants belonging to the Zingiberaceae family.
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