Turmeric often stated as “queen of spices” is one of the most powerful herbs with the goodness of all essential antioxidants and nutrients. This magical herb is extensively used in daily food in South Asian countries specifically in India from time immemorial.
The golden yellow color herb of this herb was attributed to its bioactive components collectively known as curcuminoids. A major portion of these curcuminoids is constituted by curcumin which is power packed with potential antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial activities. Because of its brilliant yellow color, turmeric is also known as “Indian saffron.”
Although turmeric has been utilized extensively for its medicinal properties from ancient times, modern medicine has also started recognizing its therapeutic value as indicated by more than 3000 publications within the last 25 years. In short, if ever a spice has to be considered as health promoting than turmeric will be the first choice. Here we enumerate key medicinal and health promoting properties of turmeric.
1. Anti-cancer potential
Turmeric is a proven anticancer agent. Many studies found that curcumin, the active compound of turmeric is potent to treat cancer at molecular level1. Turmeric prevents the process of angiogenesis and spread of new cancerous cells. It was found that turmeric can prevent cancer induction in the digestive tract. The radiation-induced tumor can be prevented if you have enough curcumin in the body. It is also reported to be effective against deadly tumor cells such as T-cell leukemia, colon carcinomas, and breast carcinomas.
2. Arthritis treatment
Arthritis is a common problem in both developing as well as developed countries with no complete cure. Being an effective anti-inflammatory agent, daily turmeric intake has huge possibilities to manage joints inflammation in arthritis. In fact, several studies revealed the better efficacy of curcumin in comparison to conventional anti-inflammatory drugs2. This super activity of curcumin is attributed to its inhibitory activity over NF-kB gene expression which in turn plays a key role in inflammatory signaling.
3. Prevent Cardiovascular disorders
Heart diseases create havoc in anyone’s life due to its sudden appearance. In a clinical study, it was found that daily administration of curcumin decreased the risk of further heart attack in patients undergoing bypass surgery3. It is suggested that turmeric intake boosts the function of blood vessel lining called endothelium. This, in turn, removes all the blockage of blood vessels ensuring the proper supply of blood to heart thereby preventing all kind of heart diseases. Further, the marked antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property of bioactive components of curcumin further play a key role in preventing cardiovascular disorders.
4. Control diabetes
WHO has recognized “Diabetes Control” as the theme for World Health Day, 2016 due to the marked increase in its prevalence worldwide. While in previous decades Type II diabetes was more prevalent in the elderly population, recent decades has reported its occurrence in young population perhaps due to lifestyle changes. Turmeric can be a relief in this alarming situation as several studies found that curcumin is efficient in blood glucose control in prediabetic and diabetic patients4.
5. Prevents brain disorder
The active biocomponent of turmeric, curcumin is known to stimulate the production of several signaling proteins for nerve functioning. One such factor is the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which found to be remarkably low in patients with neurodegenerative disorders like depression and Alzheimer’s5. Adequate turmeric intake has the capacity to enhance this BDNF factor and the strategy was found to be very effective in depression patients6.
In case of Alzheimers’s disease, curcumin was reported to be effective against characteristic tangled protein called amyloid plaques which overall disrupts the brain signaling functions required for physiological coordination7.
6. Antioxidant Potential
Turmeric owes amazing antioxidant property. Curcumin not only blocks the free radical interaction with body structural organic units like proteins and lipids but also stimulates the antioxidant enzymes of the body to fight against oxidative damage. It is well known that oxidative damage is associated with almost all debilitating conditions in-addition to ageing. Topical application of turmeric on skin is well known to reduce the signs of ageing from skin. Try face packs using turmeric for a wrinkle free skin.
7. A natural anti coagulant
People suffering from thrombosis or blood thickening are prescribed regular medication of blood thinners. These drugs have several side effects associated with them. Curcumin is found to be effective in patients with thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
8. Treat Gastro intestinal ailments
In case of gastrointestinal diseases like bowel disease (IBD) and ulcerative colitis, inflammatory drugs may worsen the condition as it interferes with gut lining and disturbs the gut pH. Supplementation with turmeric is found to be effective in regaining relief from pain and irritation during GI tract infections. Moreover, curcumin activates the probiotic components inside the stomach and thus prevent further infection. The inflammation and irritation caused by disturbed gut pH can also be treated using curcumin supplementation in moderate amount.
Turmeric is known to contain several pain suppressing compounds. In ancient times turmeric was one of the key remedies for pain. Topical application of turmeric paste on affected area is known to soothe pain. Apply a paste of turmeric and honey on the affected area and wrap it with a cotton cloth firmly. Leave this overnight for best results. You can try this remedy for any minor pain caused by an accident. Further intake of half teaspoon of turmeric powder with lukewarm milk effectively reduces the body pain associated with daily functioning.
10. Wound healing
Last but not the least; curcumin can heel your burns and wounds. As it is well known fact that turmeric has antibacterial and antifungal properties, it can heel any wound and minor burn and preventing further growth of pathogens. Just sprinkle some pure turmeric powder on your wound and cover it properly. The immense beneficial compounds of turmeric will heel your wound and leave no scar.
So add this magical herb in your daily meal to enjoy all these immense benefits.
Stay fit !!