Enter an Indian restaurant and the wonderful aromas will hit you instantly. There is no mistaking where you are at. One of the spices responsible for this sensory gift is turmeric, that yellow-orange powder with a peppery kick that adds a golden tint to food. Although this spice has been used for 4,000 years, it has only been during the last few decades that its tremendous health benefits have started to be realized.
Originating in Southeast Asia and India, turmeric has been traditionally used in therapeutic remedies within Ayurvedic practices. The key ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is responsible for its longstanding reputation of health benefits. This substance has been studied quite extensively through clinical trials on the effect it has on chronic diseases associated with inflammation. Now gaining in popularity with modern day medicine as a result of this clinical support, curcumin has been shown to be beneficial in helping with:
- joint pain
For those suffering from inflammation, there is strong evidence that turmeric has the ability to prevent the expression of both the enzymes and molecules that contribute to this condition. Many experts are suggesting that it can also be a viable option to other anti-inflammatory agents like steroids and NSAIDs (i.e. Ibuprofen, aspirin) because turmeric is considered safe and non-toxic, without side-effects.
There is also considerable evidence supporting the positive effects of curcumin on pain relief. Two studies, one in 2009 and the other in 2012, demonstrated a reduction in joint pain and decreased joint tenderness.
Most recently, curcumin’s ability to help cancer patients undergoing treatment have been documented. Research is shedding light on its use as a cancer fighting agent as it works to suppress tumor cell growth. Additionally, there is compelling evidence that it may also help during radiation therapy as well. While more extensive studies are still needed, this is exciting news for the oncology field.
While the amount of curcumin in turmeric is relatively small, 3% of the total weight, enhancing this compound’s natural ability through supplements is key. Adding a curcumin extract to your diet will ensure your body receives its full benefit. However, due to design, it is necessary to combine it with black pepper because curcumin is not easily digested by the body. Black pepper actually increases the absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
The key message here is that our diet and what we expose ourselves to can have a tremendous effect on our overall health. We must keep an open mind to the benefits that nature provides us.