“I have heard a lot about Turmeric. What is Turmeric and why is it so popular?” – A question from an anonymous reader
Turmeric (botanical name: Curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family. In fact if you look at fresh turmeric in the stores it resembles the look of ginger but with a deep yellow-orange color to it. Turmeric is grown in India, China, Indonesia and other tropical countries and has been a cultivated product since 3000B.C. Most Turmeric is cured, boiled, cleaned, sun-dried and then ground up into a powder form.
Turmeric is one of the major ingredients found in curry and is used as a food color in many other products. Turmeric is also a venerated herb of the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. Turmeric is used in the Ayurvedic and Chinese systems of medicine to help fight inflammation, flatulence and menstrual difficulties to name a few. Current popularity has centered on the anti-inflammatory benefits. Turmeric’s ability to have anti-inflammatory possibilities surrounds the yellow pigment called curcumanoid. Many scientific studies have compared curcumin to over the counter and prescription anti-inflammatory substances.
A few of the issues that came out these studies were that the use of Turmeric could improve the ability to fight morning stiffness, help increase walking times and reduce joint swelling and that Turmeric was comparable to ibuprofen (400mg of extracted turmeric to 400mg of ibuprofen). Curcumin’s also having a powerful anti-oxidant effect protecting the body from free radicals. There have been numerous studies with Turmeric and cancer cells in test tube situations. Promising results of the test-tube research has encouraged more human clinical studies and research on this subject.
Please remember that using Turmeric is not a cure for cancer. Many companies that process Turmeric products often will indicate the amount or percentage of curcumanoid’s and may indicate a better process to increase the absorption with their products. So this will cause a little confusion when looking to a product of choice. Spend time reading labels while making an informed choice on a capsule of extracted product. One last note; Turmeric can and will stain clothes, tables, rugs, etc so don’t spill it on the floor or forget capsules in pockets before washing.
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- Murray N.D., Healing with Foods, Atria Books New York NY. 2005. Pg 521-4.