The Health Benefits of Turmeric

Renée Naturally Qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist & Western Medical Herbalist

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an ancient, vibrant yellow spice traditionally used in Indian and Asian cooking as far back as 2,000 BC. The revered spice is part of the ginger family, and like its popular relative, it has been recognised globally as a highly therapeutic herb used in natural medicine. While not a spicy herb, it is certainly hot in the health benefit stakes! Turmeric has such a plethora of healing properties that to date, there have been over 9000 medical and clinical research studies conducted and published, testing its health benefits. Next time you are about to tuck into a curry rich with that trademark vibrant yellow turmeric hue, you can enjoy virtuously, knowing you are gulping down some of these remarkable health benefits:

Lowers Inflammation
A growing number of experts believe that chronic inflammation is the origin of many diseases. It is believed that the majority of the population in today’s often potentially toxic and stress-laden environment will suffer from some chronic inflammatory issue in their lifetime. Diseases such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, and high cholesterol can be the result of inflammation. In clinical studies, turmeric has been shown to be beneficial in helping the body manage excess irritation and inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response and is imperative in the healing process. However, when inflammation is out of control, like with rheumatoid arthritis or eczema, it can be damaging to the body. Inflammation has also been shown to play a significant role in some cancers and heart disease. Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin – a thoroughly researched antioxidant that demonstrates potent anti-inflammatory properties. While people survive in today’s high-stress and increasingly toxic environment, they’re not necessarily thriving. Lowering inflammation in the body is considered by many health experts to be a vital step towards enjoying vital good health!

Amazing Digestive Tonic
Turmeric is also an excellent digestive tonic and can help with a range of gastrointestinal disorders. Curcumin’s ability to help manage inflammatory bowel disease (IBS, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative Colitis) has been well researched. Also, people who have diarrhea or have had a stomach bug could benefit from using turmeric as a healing aid, as it helps to lower inflammation and also has beneficial anti-microbial properties.

Antioxidant Superhero
Turmeric provides an abundance of antioxidants that are beneficial in supporting cellular health. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants can help to fight free radicals that cause damage to our cells, which can lead to premature aging and disease. It’s quite simply an amazing antioxidant. Regular dietary or supplementary intake of turmeric can help the body to stay in prime form, to fight against the overwhelming amount of toxins and environmental pollutants we’re exposed to daily.

Happy Heart
Turmeric is believed to help lower the risk of someone developing heart disease by improving the function of the lining of the blood vessels. It is also said to help keep the heart happy and healthy by reducing plaque build-up, reducing bad cholesterol (LDL), and reducing the proinflammatory response.

Positive Cancer Research
One of the most thoroughly researched areas of study looking into the health benefits of turmeric is the potential prevention and management of cancer (of various types). In the words of Cancer Research UK, “A number of laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin does have anticancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer, and skin cancer cells.”

Obviously, cancer treatment and preventative measures should always be discussed with your oncologist or GP, but recent findings into the research around curcumin’s preventative and healing abilities should be looked into and may be able to be used in conjunction with conventional treatment. However, again, you should always consult a professional before self-prescribing supplements or changing a recommended course of treatment (this applies to all health conditions, not just cancer).

From a dietary point of view, try adding turmeric to your smoothies, porridge, curries, stews, or cooked grains. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, it also works a treat as a natural yellow/orange colourant in sweet desserts like cheesecakes. Turmeric… What can’t it do?

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