Turmeric has recently become very popular here in the West, but it’s use in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine is well documented and goes back many hundreds of years.
Curcumin has been identified as the active component in turmeric and has been credited with most of the health benefits. However, the turmeric root is a complete package and is best used in this context.
Research shows that there are a host of benefits that can be attributed to curcumin and turmeric, some of these being:
- Anti-hypertensive (lowers blood pressure).
- It can also lower cholesterol and so protect heart and vascular health.
- Anti-microbial – inhibits growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi etc. Turmeric extracts show anti-bacterial activity against Staph infections, food borne pathogens, E.coli, Bacillus subtilis etc. It acts on superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). It acts in synergy with antibiotics. This antibacterial effect of turmeric is useful in treatment of pneumonia and tuberculosis.
- Anti-viral property acts against HIV, herpes simplex virus, Hepatitis virus and even ‘flu.
- Aids in wound healing – enhances scab formation, tissue remodelling, deposition of collagen which accelerates wound healing. The antioxidant property of curcumin also accelerates wound healing.
- Curcumin boosts DHA levels which helps relieve anxiety; DHA is an essential fatty acid required for brain development and health. Research shows that curcumin holds benefits for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin is identified as a potential neuro protective agent (beneficial for brain health) and is therapeutic in stroke, head trauma and neurotoxicity like conditions.
- Studies show that curcumin plays a protective role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, lung fibrosis, allergic asthma, acute lung injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome etc.
- Curcuminoids, which give turmeric its bright colour, are strong antioxidants, comparable to Vitamin C. It has been found to be helpful in protecting against heavy metal toxicity.
Turmeric in the diet is absolutely safe. Studies have shown that up to 8g of oral turmeric supplementation does not cause side effects.
If you are taking turmeric for the first time, there is a very slight possibility that you may face some gastric symptoms that fade away soon. Turmeric in excess can cause gastric side effects.
However you must take turmeric supplements with caution since they are a highly concentrated form of curcumin and contain other additives that might cause issues. Please consult a doctor before taking turmeric supplements.
Turmeric supplements should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation.
Turmeric has blood-thinning properties and may increase any bleeding risk slightly. Therefore, supplements should be discontinued 2 weeks prior to any surgery.
Curcumin is identified with anti-platelet property and hence it is recommended to avoid it with blood thinners.
However dietary turmeric is not likely to pose any problems; but it is best to consult your doctor before taking turmeric if you are suffering from a bleeding disorder.
Turmeric supplements should be avoided by those suffering from gallbladder issues.
Turmeric is high in oxalates; so if you are at risk of developing kidney stones or have borderline dietary oxalate load please avoid turmeric powder and consult a doctor before taking supplements.
Turmeric supplements may have a drug interaction with stomach acid reducing medicines, certain antidepressants, blood thinning medicines and blood sugar lowering drugs.
There is a huge amount of information about Turmeric and Curcumin available on the Internet. It’s always best to research these foods for yourself prior to use.