Turmeric, a Potent Anti Inflammatory and Antioxidant.

If you read any kind of health magazine or other you will have heard a lot lately about turmeric. But what is it, why is it good for you and how can you add it to your diet?

Turmeric is native to South West India and is a rhizomatous, herbaceous, perennial plant related to ginger.

Most of us would be familiar with the dried powder used in spicy foods such as curries. It is also used as a dye (for monks’ robes) and a colouring agent for some foods. Particularly used in mustards and pickles to keep that lovely yellowy colour.

The powder we mostly know is prepared by boiling the roots, drying them in a hot oven, and then grinding them to a powder.

The most important compound in turmeric is Curcumin. 

Curcumin is known to be a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It also contains Manganese, Zinc, B Vitamins and Iron.

 If you want to know more about eating more antioxidants for a healthy heart listen in here to Angela Jackson from Natural Heart Health

Because of it’s antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties it can be used with great effect in many chronic conditions. There are many studies into the effects of curcumin, the majority of which have been on animals. Human research articles are still in their infancy but they are showing some promise. Like most translations from natural medicines it takes a long time. The most interesting of the research articles  are around arthritis and cancer where taking curcumin daily has significantly improved these conditions. Most of the Arthritis organisations recommend you try Turmeric to see if it helps you.

A 2012 study of the efficacy and safety of curcumin in arthritis found a statistically significant improvement in Disease Activity Scores and the American College of Rheumatology criteria. These patients were taking 500mg daily. (1)

Where a 2011 publication in the Journal of Cancer Prevention Research cited a 40% reduction in ACI (Abberant Crypt Foci), these are substances that can grow and spread cancerous cells. This was at a dose of 4g per day, lower doses did not have any statistical effect. (2)

Unfortunately the amount of curcumin found in the food where it has been added as a spice or colouring agent is not very high. So if you think it might be helpful to you then it is recommended that you take it as a higher dose as:

  • A supplement in a capsule.
  • Make a tea, Steep a root 1-1.5 g, in hot water for 15 minutes twice a day, you can add some fresh ginger and lemon as well  or
  • ½ tablespoon of oil 3 times per day.

If you are after all round good health  adding some to your diet is a really good step in the right direction.

NB Curcumin can interfere with your blood thinning drugs so if you are taking warfarin or anything like that it would be best to check with your health care practitioner before adding turmeric as a supplement.

 (1) CHANDRAN B ET AL PHYTOTHERAPY RESEARCH, VOLUME 26, ISSUE 11, PGS 1719-1725, NOVEMBER 2012
(2) CARROLL ROBERT E ET AL, JOURNAL OF CANCER PREVENTION RESEARCH, 4(3) MARCH 2011.