TurmericThe Amazing Turmeric

By Dori Cranmore RN, Holistic Health Practitioner

The herb Turmeric has been in the limelight recently and the more research that is done; the more wonderful healthful benefits are arising.

Turmeric comes from the ginger family and has a peppery, warm but slightly bitter flavor.  It smells like a cross between ginger and oranges. It’s known as one of the ingredients to make curry but it is also used as a natural colorant in many foods like mustard. You might have heard it referred to as curcumin.  The yellow-orange pigment in turmeric is what is referred to as curcumin. It is often used to color natural soap.

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant.  It is an excellent source of iron, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber and potassium.  It is native to Indonesia and southern India where it has been harvested for over 5,000 years.  Adding it to your food gives an extra zest of flavor and also a bold yellow color.  Some food ideas:  You can add it to egg salad or other salad dressings to give it a nice flavor and brighter yellow color. Mix brown rice with raisins and cashews then season with turmeric, cumin and coriander. Especially delicious is cutting cauliflower florets in half and sauté with a generous spoonful of turmeric for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

So let’s talk about some of the health benefits from this wonderful root.

  1. It has been found to be a very effective treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  It is generally inexpensive, well tolerated with very large does and a very effective treatment also for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis is also found to respond extremely well. Turmeric’s combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief.
  3. Cancer prevention tops the list of recent researches. Curcumin’s antioxidant actions enable it to protect the colon cells from free radicals that can ultimately damage cellular DNA. Curcumin helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells so they can’t spread throughout the body and cause more harm. Turmeric enhances liver function and protects against cancer development. It inhibits the synthesis of a certain protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation and preventing the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth.  Studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer.  University of Texas says that even when breast cancer is already present, Curcumin can help slow the spread of cells. Ultimately the Curcumin induces cell cycle arrest and cell suicide in the cancer cells. The dose is about 3000mg of Turmeric daily for optimum results.
  4. Cholesterol lowering effects and cardiovascular protection has been proven through research published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. The Turmeric ‘communicates’ with the liver cells telling it to increase messenger proteins that allow the body to clear out more of the LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  5. More studies are coming in suggesting Turmeric will help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. Because Curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier it gets in there and wipes out the oxidative stress and inflammation which causes the brain dysfunction. UCLA researchers did studies showing the Turmeric was more effective than ibuprofen and naproxen.
  6. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used to disinfect cuts.
  7. It is a natural pain killer and cox-2 inhibitor.
  8. It may aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management when taken consistently.
  9. It has been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.

10. It is known to speed up wound healing as it assists in remodeling of damaged skin.  It may also help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Turmeric or Curcumin comes in 250-500mg capsules or in the powder form in bulk available at All About Herbs.

Dori Cranmore is a registered nurse, holistic health Practitioner and owner of All About Herbs in Wasilla, 376-8327 and Palmer, 745-8387.