In recent years, turmeric benefits have captured the attention of Western scientists and herbalists. However, this herb held a place of honor in India's traditional Ayurvedic medicine because they have always known the magical medicinal powers of turmeric.
Before we delve into the health benefits of turmeric, including the possible side effects of turmeric, we would like to share with you a little about its healing history and traditional turmeric benefits.
Turmeric is a perennial shrub that is grown in India and other tropical areas of Asia. It was long used as a hot yellow spice to flavor Indian cuisine. In addition, it was added to a variety of mustards to give them a potent "bite."
In India's traditional Ayurvedic medicine turmeric was a symbol of prosperity - it was considered a whole body cleansing herb. Medically, it was used as an aid for digestive disturbances and as a treatment for fever, infections, dysentery, arthritis, jaundice and other liver problems.
The traditional Chinese physicians also used turmeric medically to treat liver and gallbladder problems, stop bleeding, and relieve chest congestion and menstrual discomforts.
The health benefits of turmeric lie in the active ingredient called curcumin. This powerful compound gives turmeric its therapeutic benefits, its yellow color, and its pungent flavor. More specifically, curcumin harbors antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, stomach-soothing, and liver-and heart-protecting effects.
Turmeric is thought to reduce inflammation by lowering histamine levels and it may also stimulate the adrenal glands to increase production of a hormone that reduces inflammation. It is often used to ease joint pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. However, it is also used to reduce joint pain and in inflammation in other disorders as well.
Turmeric (curcumin) also harbors rich stores of antioxidants. Antioxidants are disease-fighting substances that mop up the continuous onslaught of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that damage cells as they travel through the body and are responsible for premature aging and diseases such as cancer if left unchecked. In fact, Naturopaths often recommend turmeric for situations in which high concentrations of antioxidants are required.
Studies with animals show that turmeric benefits liver health. Several animal studies suggest that turmeric protects the liver from the damaging effects of certain toxins, including alcohol. These findings certainly lend credence to the herb's history of use in liver aliments.
Among the many health benefits of turmeric, is that it harbors antiplatelet activity. The herb reduces the ability of the blood to form clots and, as such, this action may improve circulation as well as offer some protection against heart attacks and strokes.
If you suffer from digestive problems this may be the herb for you. Turmeric helps digest fats by stimulating the flow of bile. No wander it was used traditionally as a digestive aid.
Laboratory studies indicate that curcumin has anti-cancer activity. More specifically, it destroys some types of cancer cells. For example, in the laboratory, curcumin kills cultures of human leukemia cells. This action may be due to turmeric's antioxidant properties or some other anti-cancer activity. Needless to say, more research is needed to determine turmeric benefits as a potential cancer agent.