Veterinarian Reviewed on June 7, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
A close relative to Ginger, Turmeric grows 5-6 feet in height in many tropical areas of South Asia. This perennial plant has large trumpet shaped flowers of a dullish yellow color. The roots are actually bulbs that produce rhizomes that grow into new stems and roots of new plants. Turmeric is very fragrant and has a sharp bitter flavor that is the main featured ingredient in many Indian curry dishes.
Turmeric use dates back 4,000 years as a treatment for several ailments. It has also been used frequently as a food coloring and flavor aide. It is what gives the very distinct yellow color and flavor to many dishes including curry. It has been used to color foods such as cheeses, butter and even mustard.
The bulbs and roots of Turmeric are the portion of the plant used for medicine and food. These are typically boiled and dried to become the yellow powder most are familiar with. Curcumin contains very high levels of antioxidants that many say are as strong as Vitamin C & Vitamin E. There are other ingredients of the herb that also contain antioxidant properties.
Turmeric is used in both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine for its anti inflammatory properties. It is also used for digestive issues, liver ailments, wounds and skin disease. Some of the most common uses for Turmeric in Ancient times were for stomachaches, ulcers, digestion problems, several types of infection throughout the body including eye infections.
The powerful ingredient that is contained in Turmeric is called Curcumin. This ingredient is what makes it such a potent antioxidant. These will scour through the body and cleanse it of free radicals which damage cell walls and alter DNA or can cause cells to die. Curcumin also decreases two inflammatory enzymes of the body and prevents platelets from forming blood clots.
Current research is showing Turmeric being helpful for treating several conditions such as:
• Indigestion or Dyspepsia. German scientists have been prescribing Curcumin for digestive maladies. It has also been proven effective through several studies to alleviate bloating and gas.
• Ulcerative colitis. Turmeric is helpful in the remission of ulcerative colitis and many had very low relapse rates compared to those in the control groups.
• Low stomach acid production. For those that are unable to produce sufficient stomach acid, Turmeric has proven to be successful in promoting healthier amounts. However, patients with stomach ulcers are discouraged to consume high levels of Turmeric.
• Osteoarthritis sufferers are finding excellent relief from painful Arthritis. This is due to the high levels of anti-inflammatory agents of Turmeric, especially when combined with other herbal remedies.
• Atherosclerosis is the formation of plaque in the arteries that eventually leads to heart attacks and strokes. Lab studies have shown that Turmeric lowered cholesterol levels and prevented LDL levels to build in the blood stream.
• Cancer studies are still early on the exact benefits of Turmeric. The Curcumin levels in Turmeric may be able to kill off several forms of cancer including breast, prostate, skin and colon. These effects are possibly due to Curcumin’s strengths as an antioxidant.
• Diabetes cases in lab animal tests are showing an effective management of blood sugar levels but it is still too early to determine if the same results can be replicated in humans.
• Bacterial and Viral Infections have seen astounding results in test tube and animal studies when Curcumin was introduced into the samples. Further human testing is still pending.
• Uveitis is a severe eye inflammation and early research studies have shown Curcumin to have a possitve effect in treating this.
For medicinal consumption, Turmeric is available in encapsulated powder, tinctures and liquid extracts.
Foods containing Turmeric are considered safe levels for everyone. Large amounts of Turmeric supplements for a prolonged period of time may cause upset stomachs and in rare cases ulcers. If you are prone to gallstones or bile production issues, consult a health care professional about starting increased use of Turmeric.
Turmeric can lower blood sugar levels especially when combined with medications prescribed for hypoglycemia and diabetes. There are several possible drug interactions, especially with blood thinners. Aspirin users should also take note of possible reactions to high levels of Turmeric.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan