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4 Ways Turmeric May Improve Your Health
Turmeric’s main active ingredient, curcumin — often called “cure-cumin” — is a powerful anti-inflammatory, which is great for sufferers of osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear kind that long-term athletes can develop. Research has also shown that curcumin can improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. One study even showed that turmeric with high curcumin content treated pain as effectively as ibuprofen.
Like its cousin ginger, turmeric is a member of the Zingiberaceae family and has a fleshy root used for both cooking and medicine. Ginger and turmeric are key ingredients in curry, giving the spice its trademark warmth and pungency. Turmeric, also used as a textile dye, lends curry its golden hue.
Now back to turmeric’s curative effects: It’s the potent ingredient curcumin that turns turmeric into an Olympic fighter against these ailments.
As an anticancer agent, the curcumin in turmeric appears to discourage the development of tumors and, if tumors do take root, it inhibits their growth, particularly in colon cancer.
Chronic, Age-related Ailments
India’s low rate of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia has long intrigued researchers. Lab studies show that curcumin inhibits the growth of beta-amyloid, an abnormal protein that develops in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers and also helps to clear it. (It’s important to note that another study on patients who already had Alzheimer’s showed that curcumin supplements did not help reverse the symptoms.)
Turmeric’s antimicrobial powers counter bacteria, parasites, and fungi. And it can be used as a topical antiseptic for scrapes, cuts, and burns. (Take care when applying a turmeric salve. It will turn skin yellow for a while, and it may stain clothes permanently.)
Turmeric has been shown to protect the liver, relieve indigestion, and help prevent ulcers or relieve existing ones. It also shows promise for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Absorbing turmeric into the system can be a challenge, so be sure to talk to your doctor for guidance. If you plan to take it internally, look for top-quality supplements that can be easily absorbed. Pregnant women and sufferers of gallstones or bile duct obstruction should not take concentrated turmeric products.
But the cooking spice is safe, so continue to go for it!