Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice that belongs to the ginger family. It has been commonly grown across Southeast Asia and is widely used for flavouring and traditional medicine. Turmeric is traditionally used to treat various conditions in the skin, upper respiratory tract, joints, and digestive system.
Beyond just traditional medicine, turmeric has grown in popularity due to its nutritional value. Turmeric is being studied for its potential use in modern medicine as it has compounds that can be very beneficial to human health. Some of these health benefits include:
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric contains curcumin, an active compound that gives it the bright yellow-orange pigment and most of the spice’s health benefits, including the anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation can be a normal and healthy reaction of the body. However, when the inflammation starts to attack the body, it can cause chronic conditions and diseases. The curcumin in turmeric is a natural antioxidant and can help fight this inflammation.
Chronic diseases that are caused or aggravated by inflammation include cancer and Alzheimers. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory potential is also being studied concerning these diseases. Additionally, turmeric can help other conditions caused by inflammation like arthritis, joint pains and stiffness, digestive problems, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Another potential benefit of turmeric currently being explored is its properties to help fight depression. Its bioactive curcumin has been shown to positively affect brain health, by boosting serotonin and dopamine levels. These two chemicals in the human brain are associated with producing positive feelings like happiness and pleasure.
Serotonin and dopamine play an essential role in combating negative feelings and emotions. They also serve as neurotransmitters that aid in regulating various processes in the body, including sleep and metabolism. Hence, turmeric has been eyed as good support for achieving mental wellness, reducing chances of erratic mood swings, and even battling depression and anxiety.
However, turmeric is not a natural alternative for a prescription antidepressant. Turmeric’s efficacy for the nervous system and the brain also varies in the amount that you take. Adding a dash of turmeric powder might not give you that much of a benefit. You can try supplements or incorporate turmeric gummies into your morning routine to make it easier to consume.
Several studies have been conducted showing curcumin’s potential to treat or prevent diabetes. Turmeric’s primary bioactive component can help lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin. Moreover, turmeric’s efficacy in reducing the risk of diabetes is associated with curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
However, it is essential to note that these results are based on research and studies primarily conducted on animals. Further tests on humans are needed to verify if turmeric can cure diabetes. Either way, turmeric can be beneficial to overall health.
Turmeric is believed to be beneficial for the skin as well. It has antioxidants that help cleanse the body from free radicals. Your skin, as the largest organ in the human body, will show you if your internal system is clean and healthy or otherwise.
Consuming the proper amount of turmeric reduces internal inflammation, which can help promote healthier and glowing skin. It can even help control flares and other symptoms of psoriasis. With its healing and soothing properties, turmeric is also good to be applied directly to the skin. It can help ease irritations and rash and inflammations, acne and eczema, among many other minor skin conditions.
Turmeric can be mixed into facial scrubs and masks or made into a cream or balm. Mixing it with Greek yoghurt and honey and applying it as a mask is suitable for starters. However, there are also risks associated with excessively using turmeric on your skin.
Seeing traces of yellow pigment on your skin is considered normal. But further discolouration, rashes or swelling may be a sign of an allergy or irritation. Be cautious and conduct a patch test on your elbow or ask for your doctor’s advice before applying turmeric to your skin.
Reduce Arthritis Pain
Turmeric may also help reduce joint swelling and ease arthritis pain. Turmeric, especially curcumin, is considered beneficial to reducing arthritis symptoms, including those from rheumatoid arthritis. It can help ease and reduce joint stiffness and aid in recovering from arthritis and related conditions.
The reduction of symptoms can help stop arthritis from spreading to other body areas, which is common, especially for those with rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin is recommended as an excellent supplementary nutrient for people with arthritis combined with prescribed medication and conventional therapy.
Turmeric’s anti-aging benefits are linked to its antioxidant properties. It also contains activated proteins that are proven to help slow down cell aging and degeneration. As people grow old, cells tend to stop dividing to produce new ones. Hence, they become stagnant.
This process is called cellular senescence, and it can accelerate aging and make humans susceptible to diseases as they grow old. The active proteins found in turmeric, like sirtuins and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), help stop this cellular senescence. These proteins promote healthier cells in the body and combat signs of aging inside out.
Should you take more turmeric?
Turmeric has numerous possible health benefits. Some are proven, while others need further research. Today, we know that turmeric has excellent potential and is suitable for the body, not to mention that it is great for spicing up dishes.
However, it is still essential to regulate your turmeric intake. It’s crucial to note excessive intake of turmeric, whether as a tea, as a spice or flavouring or taking it as a supplement in high doses, can cause health problems. It can negatively affect your digestive and urinary tract. Before anything, it is best to talk with your physician or health providers about turmeric and other complementary approaches you can take for your health and wellness.