6000 years ago, the Harrapan peoples of the Indus Valley, in modern day Pakistan and Northern India, were enjoying a surprisingly modern lifestyle. They lived in neatly planned cities and towns with flushing toilets, hot baths, and running water. They rode in copper chariots, enjoyed music and the arts, used lipstick and cosmetics and invented the world’s first system of weights and measures. Even more impressively they manage to survive for thousands of years without slaves, armies or wars. And you guessed it, they were also the first people to cultivate turmeric.1
A small gnarly root from the ginger family with a bright orange centre, turmeric has been used as a food, medicine, dye and beauty product ever since. The name turmeric comes from the Latin terra merita meaning “the earth of merit” or “the praiseworthy earth”. And whilst it’s health benefits have long been espoused in India, the West has only recently taken notice. But all that has now changed, and turmeric has become one of the most studied plants in medicine, with thousands of research papers published on it. The findings back up what has been said for a long time… it really is a root worth rooting for.
Here we look at the evidence for 10 reasons turmeric keeps you ticking over.
Although a small amount is our natural response to injuries and pathogens, chronic inflammation has been linked to most major diseases. Turmeric lowers histamine levels which combats inflammation at its source. In fact it has been shown to be stronger, more effective anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen or aspirin, and does so without the side effects of either.2
Curcumin keeps your heart healthy in several ways. For one it improves the function of your blood vessel lining, known as the endothelium, as effectively as exercise or medication.3 It also prevents blood clotting and lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, delivering a quadruple whammy of protection against cardiovascular disease.4
Its active ingredient, curcumin, is a potent anti-oxidant, and it also increases the anti-oxidant enzymes in the body, so helps prevent cancer cells forming.5 It also kills certain cancer cells, and studies have shown curcumin in combination with chemotherapy to be more effective than chemotherapy alone.6
Studies have shown curcumin acts upon several biological mechanisms of depression, showing a significant reduction in symptoms after 12 weeks of use.7 In fact, it has been shown to be even more effective than Prozac in treating clinical depression.8
The free-radical theory of ageing states that we age because of oxidation, which damages cells and DNA. Not only is turmeric a potent anti-oxidant itself, but it boosts the activity of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes, thus doubling it’s effectiveness.9 The fountain of youth doesn’t end there though. Turmeric preparations are also used topically on scars, bites, burns and scratches, as it’s antimicrobial action promotes faster healing and leaves skin with a youthful glow.
Supplementation has been shown to reduce pain and improve function in osteoarthritis.10 This comes without the adverse side effects of most current non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, rendering them a safe and effective alternative.
Curcumin has been shown to boost levels of a growth hormone called brain-derived neutropic factor, or BDNF for short. This helps to grow and multiply neurons in the brain, and increase their connections.11 More research needs to be done but there is evidence that it can improve memory, make you smarter and reverse the age-related decline in brain function.12
Alzheimers is caused by a buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain, combined with oxidative stress and inflammation. Curcumin works on all three of these mechanisms, binding to the amyloid cells as well as reducing oxidation and inflammation. This renders exciting possibilities for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimers.13
Turmeric has positive affects on many of the leading aspects of diabetes by lowering insulin resistance, blood lipids and hyperglycemia.14 It can be used to aid prevention of type-2 diabetes in pre-diabetic and high-risk groups, and manage the condition in those already afflicted.15
15 million people in the UK alone suffer from allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever. Curcumin has been shown to improve nasal airflow, reduce sneezing and soothe the immune response in hay fever allergy. It does this by inhibiting histamine and inflammation.16
So the golden root really does appear to live up to its praiseworthy name. You can find it in both fresh and powdered form, and it can be used to make delicious hot drinks, smoothies, curries, soups and stews. If taking it for health reasons, be aware that only 3% of the weight of turmeric is the active ingredient curcumin, so you need quite large amounts to feel the benefit. Furthermore only 45%-85% of it is properly absorbed. Fortunately a chemical found in black pepper called piperine increases the absorption of turmeric by up to 2000% so remember to include some black pepper with your turmeric to optimise the goodness.
To make life simple, Protea Wellness has done the hard work for you and prepared an ethically-sourced supplement with curcumin, ginger and piperine in a vegan capsule that is easily absorbed by the body for maximum benefit. Try it today and see what turmeric can do for you.