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If you’ve ever dug into a warm curry dish at an Indian restaurant, you’ve eaten turmeric.1 Turmeric, also known as turmeric rhizome, is the spice that gives curry its yellow color, and has been used in cooking for thousands of years.2

But it’s more than a vibrantly colored spice – it’s a nutritional powerhouse. In the world of scientific studies and clinical trials, turmeric goes hand in hand with curcumin…

A powerful compound packed with antioxidant powers.

Scientists are still finding out new and exciting benefits, every year. That says a lot, considering how long turmeric has been around!

What is it and Where is it From?

Simply put, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a relative of ginger. It’s a perennial plant that reaches 5 to 6 feet in Southeast Asia.3,4 Its fragrant yellow flowers are normally spotted in India, the country responsible for the most turmeric consumption.5

The plant is known for its sharp, bitter taste and has been used in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.6,7 Ayurvedic medicine is just the name for one of the world’s oldest holistic medicine systems that originated in India.

So why should we learn to love this bitter-flavored golden spice?

Turmeric’s active ingredient is curcumin, a potent polyphenol.8 A polyphenol is an antioxidant that helps your body maintain healthier cells.9,10 More specifically, turmeric extracts and curcumin are also suggested to increase antioxidant production and may inhibit lipid peroxidation.11,12

But what does that mean? A lipid is just a substance that is found to be insoluable in water, and lipid peroxidation is just another way of saying lipid breakdown. In short, the extracts and curcumin stop lipids from breaking down in addition to its other beneficial roles.13

How Much Turmeric Do I Really Need?

Turmeric’s roots are popular in both medicine and food – boiled, dried, and then powdered is a standard way the plant is transformed into its familiar spice form. The spice’s powder can also be found in capsule form, fluid extracts, and even tinctures.14(Tinctures are just a fancy way of labeling a medicine that is made by dissolving a substance in alcohol.)

It’s recommended that adults should incorporate roughly 3 grams total turmeric into a diet per day. The amount varies further when the plant is powdered or liquidized. For powdered turmeric, no more than 1,800 mg per day should be ingested. Fluid extracts shouldn’t exceed 90 drops and tincture shouldn’t exceed 120 drops a day.15

Turmeric

Benefits of Curcumin

We’ve established that turmeric’s number one ingredient is the super beneficial curcumin, a powerful antioxidant…but there’s some important information about curcumin to keep in mind:

1. Curcumin has low bioavailability.16,17

That means means that the body has trouble absorbing the antioxidant, and what is absorbed is burned off quickly by our metabolism – all the more argument to supplement with curcumin regularly. Scientists usually have to make a curcumin solution in order for the antioxidant to be effective, instead of just introducing the body to the antioxidant itself.18,19

2. Curcumin is believed to be beneficial for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.20,21

Studies have suggested that curcumin’s presence in the body could lead to a decrease of harmful pathogens and bacteria while helping to reduce inflammation by promoting cell health and the presence of lipids.22

3. Curcumin has stumped scientists and doctors for years – but in a good way.23

Studies have suggested so many beneficial uses for curcumin, the medical and scientific communities remain in awe of all the things one kind of antioxidant can do.

Who knew some Indian curry could really be the dish we’re needing the most!

Health Studies

Curcumin has been extensively studied for its medical and health benefits. And by extensively, I mean extensively.

Here are just some of the health issues that curcumin has been studied with to determine its beneficial effects:

Gastrointestinal problems24,25 Curcumin is believed to help promote healthy bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract, while inhibiting pathogens.
Joint Pain26,27 Curcumin may help with joint symptoms similar to those seen in patients with arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms included painful joint function, inflammation, and more.
Arterial Build-up28 Curcumin may help prevent a buildup of plaque in the heart, according to one study. The antioxidant was used in combination with other substances and was believed to help lessen pain.
Neurodegeneration29,30 Research suggests curcumin, with its anti-inflammatory properties and positive effects on the circulatory system, may help with symptoms seen in neurodegenerative disorders. It may also help with select psychiatric disorders by helping stop cells from dying, helping stop neurotoxicity, and more.
Insulin Resistance31,32 It is suggested that the antioxidant can reverse insulin resistance and hyperglycemia.

While most studies focus on those with health problems, one study investigated the effects of curcumin in healthy, middle-aged participants. It was believed that curcumin was beneficial and helped increase circulatory activity and other healthy reactions.33

If that information hasn’t left an impression, the FDA has looked int turmeric, and its active component, curcumin, and declared them both to be GRAS – generally regarded as safe.34

Turmeric

Conclusion

However you decide to add turmeric into your diet, whether it be via roots, a supplement like our Primal Plants, or extracts, you won’t regret it. The potential benefits are just too numerous to ignore. A little spicy curry is definitely worth the heat for the amazing antioxidant powers of curcumin!

Sources
1 Prasad SAggarwal B. Turmeric, the Golden Spice. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2011. Accessed November 15, 2016.
2 Turmeric. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
3 Henrotin Y, Priem F, Mobasheri A. Curcumin: a new paradigm and therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of osteoarthritis: curcumin for osteoarthritis management. SpringerPlus. 2013;2(1):56. doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-56.
4 Wilken R, Veena M, Wang M, Srivatsan E. Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Molecular Cancer. 2011;10(1):12. doi:10.1186/1476-4598-10-12.
5 Turmeric. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
6 Jacob A, Wu R, Zhou M, Wang P. Mechanism of the Anti-inflammatory Effect of Curcumin: PPAR-γActivation. PPAR Research. 2007;2007:1-5. doi:10.1155/2007/89369.
7 Caldwell E. New Research Adds Spice to Curcumin’s Health-Promoting Benefits. News Room. 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
8 Turmeric. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
9 Turmeric. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
10 Panahi Y, Hosseini M, Khalili N, Naimi E, Majeed M, Sahebkar A. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcuminoid-piperine combination in subjects with metabolic syndrome: A randomized controlled trial and an updated meta-analysis. Clinical Nutrition. 2015;34(6):1101-1108. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2014.12.019.
11 Turmeric. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
12 Panahi Y, Hosseini M, Khalili N, Naimi E, Majeed M, Sahebkar A. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcuminoid-piperine combination in subjects with metabolic syndrome: A randomized controlled trial and an updated meta-analysis. Clinical Nutrition. 2015;34(6):1101-1108. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2014.12.019.
13 Prasad SAggarwal B. Turmeric, the Golden Spice. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2011. Accessed November 15, 2016.
14 Turmeric. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
15 Turmeric. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
16 Kaufmann F, Gazal M, Bastos C, Kaster M, Ghisleni G. Curcumin in depressive disorders: An overview of potential mechanisms, preclinical and clinical findings. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2016;784:192-198. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2016.05.026.
17 Henrotin Y, Priem F, Mobasheri A. Curcumin: a new paradigm and therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of osteoarthritis: curcumin for osteoarthritis management. SpringerPlus. 2013;2(1):56. doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-56.
18 Caldwell E. New Research Adds Spice to Curcumin’s Health-Promoting Benefits. News Room. 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
19 Gupta S, Patchva S, Aggarwal B. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal. 2012;15(1):195-218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8.
20 Prasad SAggarwal B. Turmeric, the Golden Spice. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2011. Accessed November 15, 2016.
21 Gupta S, Patchva S, Aggarwal B. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal. 2012;15(1):195-218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8.
22 Prasad SAggarwal B. Turmeric, the Golden Spice. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2011. Accessed November 15, 2016.
23 Gupta S, Patchva S, Aggarwal B. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal. 2012;15(1):195-218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8.
24 Gupta S, Patchva S, Aggarwal B. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal. 2012;15(1):195-218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8.
25 Wilken R, Veena M, Wang M, Srivatsan E. Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Molecular Cancer. 2011;10(1):12. doi:10.1186/1476-4598-10-12.
26 Kloesch B, Becker T, Dietersdorfer E, Kiener H, Steiner G. Anti-inflammatory and apoptotic effects of the polyphenol curcumin on human fibroblast-like synoviocytes. International Immunopharmacology. 2013;15(2):400-405. doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2013.01.003.
27 Henrotin Y, Priem F, Mobasheri A. Curcumin: a new paradigm and therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of osteoarthritis: curcumin for osteoarthritis management. SpringerPlus. 2013;2(1):56. doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-56.
28 López-Lázaro M. Anticancer and carcinogenic properties of curcumin: Considerations for its clinical development as a cancer chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2008. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200700238.
29 Gupta S, Patchva S, Aggarwal B. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal. 2012;15(1):195-218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8.
30 Kaufmann F, Gazal M, Bastos C, Kaster M, Ghisleni G. Curcumin in depressive disorders: An overview of potential mechanisms, preclinical and clinical findings. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2016;784:192-198. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2016.05.026.
31 Gupta S, Patchva S, Aggarwal B. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal. 2012;15(1):195-218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8.
32 Aggarwal B. Targeting Inflammation-Induced Obesity and Metabolic Diseases by Curcumin and Other Nutraceuticals. Annu Rev Nutr. 2010;30(1):173-199. doi:10.1146/annurev.nutr.012809.104755.
33 Gupta S, Patchva S, Aggarwal B. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal. 2012;15(1):195-218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8.
34 Prasad SAggarwal B. Turmeric, the Golden Spice. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2011. Accessed November 15, 2016.

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