What’s So Great About Turmeric?

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Turmeric…is it a cure all?

Curcuma_longa_rootsSome in natural healing think it could be.  It’s the 3rd largest selling supplement at the moment (only flax and wheatgrass top it). The colorful spice has a reputation, first as a dye, then as a natural healing supplement.

Research into the spice has increased lately, mainly because of the ingredient within, curcumin.  A very popular spice in Indian cooking such as curries, it is part of the ginger family.  That is interesting in itself since ginger is often used for a variety of ailments as well.

Used in Eastern nations for thousands of years, it is thought to help with a huge variety of illnesses and hurts.  Considered anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-bacterial, it is used as an antiseptic to heal and as a preventive against disease and bacterial infections.

Uses for Turmeric

The spice has long been known to help with a wide variety of issues.  For thousands of years in some cases.

Turmeric…

  • May help lower cholesterol.
  • Used to treat irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Offers relief of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It is an anti-oxidant.
  • Destroys free radicals.
  • As an antiseptic, it can prevent effects of salmonella or other bacteria in the intestines.
  • Often it is used as a remedy for diarrhea.
  • Helps treat bladder infections.
  • As a paste it can be applied externally to heal cuts and wounds.
  • As a paste it helps sprains.
  • Used for acne and eczema.
  • May help fibromyalgia.
  • Improves liver function.
  • Speeds up metabolism so may aid in weight loss.
  • May slow cancer cells.
  • Help with depression.

Doesn’t that cover just about everyone? It’s no wonder its popularity has grown so much lately.  Right along with that, is the increase in research using the spice.

One plus, in addition to all the possible treatments if offers, is that there are few side effects.  So many medications we take have a list of them, but there are only a few considerations with Turmeric.  First, allergies, and second, it may react and increase efficacy of medications—very important with heart meds and blood thinners.  Some studies also show those with gallstones or sensitive stomachs may find it disagrees with them.  It’s cause enough to talk to your doctor if you have any condition.

Where Does It Come From?

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Do you wonder how we get it?  We are so used to buying a spice already ground, whether jarred or loose, and taking it home for use.  But learning how it becomes a ground spice is very interesting too.  It comes from the root of “curcuma longa” plant, which originates in India.  The roots are first boiled, then dried (usually in an oven), then ground into the brightly colored spice.

Those root pieces, looking similar to ginger root, are called rhizomes. Certainly the powdered form is the most popular and the most common, but some countries will use the rhizomes in pieces, and the leaves to wrap and cook food.  It is also an ingredient in mustards.

While it even grows wild in India, it is a perennial plant that can be grown in a warm, fairly wet climate.

How much is too much?

One of the reasons many say to get your turmeric from the meals you prepare is because of dosing.  The amounts recommended can vary remarkably.  Some say that as little as 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon daily is enough to receive benefits.  Others say 1 teaspoon.  Many of those living in India consume a teaspoon a day.

Probably the best suggestion is to start slowly, allow your system to adapt, and increase the dosage somewhat.  Again, talk to your doctor.  Higher amounts can affect someone with gallstones or kidney stones.

Unless it is prescribed for some reason, the maximum seems to stay at around a teaspoon daily.

Turmeric for Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Disease

The latest studies are perhaps the most exciting, in that research is underway to see the spice’s effect on Alzheimer’s disease. The brain blocks so many things from crossing over from the blood.  Curcumin  does.  Once it crosses into the brain it can destroy the beta amyloid plaques that are found in Alzheimer’s disease.  That encourages the possibility that it might be used prevent the destruction of neurons that are lost with the disease.

The research now is how much turmeric would be needed daily for effectiveness, plus how best to get it into the body.  Atomizers…tablets…what would be best?  It’s possible it works best when used in cooking, as is done in India.

Research continues, but it is another possibility.  Any research that may provide a cure or treatment is something to watch closely.  Since the numbers with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to explode in the coming years, it is essential to our population and our economy that a cure is found.  You can read more about that in “The Frightening Future of Alzheimer’s Disease.”

(Please note, we are not suggesting you use these possible treatments in lieu of seeing your doctor for any illness or infection.  The spice can increase the effects of some medication, so it is important to discuss with your doctor before using as a possible treatment).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

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Author: Merry Citarella

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