Ever wondered what gives the curry you eat on Indian food night its bright color? Turmeric, the bright yellow spice traditionally named the ‘Indian saffron’ owing to its color, has been an important component of dyes, textiles, butters, cheeses, condiments and, surprisingly, medicines since a long time. The peppery and slightly bitter spice comes from the turmeric plant, Curcuma longa, whose roots are often used to extract a chemical called curcumin, and is a known antioxidant with incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
Throughout Chinese and Indian history, turmeric has been a part and parcel of the medicine industry because of its healing and remedying characteristics. From toothaches to jaundice, including this simple spice in your everyday diet can help you prevent as well as treat yourself of several common health conditions.
There have been several studies that evaluated the effect of various anti-inflammatory compounds. As stated in the Oncogene journal, it has been found that with the least amount of negative side effects turmeric is the most potent against chronic inflammations occurring throughout the body. Even better than over the counter drugs such as aspirin.
A 2006 University of Arizona study examined the effectiveness of turmeric on rodents which had been injected with on set rheumatoid arthritis strains. It was observed that the antioxidant significantly reduced the symptoms of the disease and also inhibited it from spreading. It also improves and eliminates pain from victims of osteoarthritis when taken with a combination of other herbs regularly.
Curcumin has also been found to be an effective cure for inflammations that attack the bowel such as ulcerative colitis. Through thorough research it has been proved that victims of inflammatory bowel diseases, when given doses of turmeric, displayed much reduced signs of the disease. There was reduced mucosal ulceration and the intestinal walls had started to thin down.
The chemical also tends to work with the gallbladder and stimulates it to produce bile so the process of digestion runs smoothly and efficiently. It is common in Germany for turmeric to simply be prescribed to patients with digestive problems such as bloating, gas or an upset stomach.
Apart from the above mentioned, curcumin has also been known to help in healing from worse and much serious conditions, like neurodegenerative diseases. It is still being researched how the chemical’s anti-inflammatory and circulatory effects may help prevent and treat cases of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis amongst others. Epidemiological studies have shown that in the population of India that uses turmeric frequently in their diet, levels of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s are extremely low. Curcumin disturbs the production of a myelin destroying protein and protects nerve cells from being permanently damaged.
If that is not enough to convince you of the incredible advantages of consuming turmeric as a common spice, curcumin might also be an agent that prevents you from developing cancer. Experiments show that it inhibits the production of inflammatory enzymes that produce cancerous cells, specifically in the colon. Continuing on this path, it also increases the ability of the liver to detoxify harmful chemicals as it increases the concentration of two very important liver detoxification enzymes and as a result significantly enhances liver function all the while preventing it from damage or inflammation.
It is extremely inexpensive, easy to find, an interesting addition to food and beneficial to almost every organ and system in your body, giving little to no side effects as it goes. Hence, the addition of this simple yet powerful spice can only be a good thing for you and everyone around you. So the next time you have a back ache or feel something brewing in your stomach, instead of grabbing an Advil or an Ibuprofen, look for the bottle of turmeric powder hiding in your cabinet for twice the benefits and half the distaste.
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