Turmeric – the spice of life…

Turmeric – the spice of life…

Turmeric has been used by Indians in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to cure all sorts of ailments, from heartburn to bloating, fibromyalgia to depression. Not to mention its use in delicious curries! So, we thought we would take a look at this amazing spice and see what it’s all about.

Turmeric is the root stalk of a plant which is part of the ginger family. One of the main components is Curcumin, which is the element containing the potential healing properties.

It is well documented that Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. This is huge news, as it is now believed that low-level inflammation is a major factor in almost all chronic western disease. This includes cancer, heart disease, Alzheimers and all sorts of degenerative diseases. Whilst research is still ongoing into the use of turmeric in cancer, diabetes and alzheimers treatment, conditions such as arthritis and tendonitis have been shown to respond to turmeric.

Turmeric is also known to have anti-oxidant properties. Antioxidants protect our bodies from free radicals, and curcumin has been shown to neutralize these atoms, and to boost the body’s own antioxidant enzymes, giving free radicals a one-two punch. A bonus to improving health by reducing oxidative stress is that this is one of the mechanisms behind aging. And surely slowing the aging process is something we can all get behind!

Brain function can be improved by curcumin too – it increases the level of BDNF in the brain (a hormone that helps form new neurons), assisting with memory and fighting the degenerative process. Studies have indicated that curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier, making it useful in the fight against Alzheimers. As a reduced level of BNDF is also implicated in depression, curcumin has been shown to be useful in the treatment of this growing problem. There is also some evidence it helps boost serotonin and dopamine – both important in the fight against depression.

We all know that heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the world, and turmeric can help here too. Studies suggest curcumin is helpful in improving the function of the endothelium – the lining of the blood vessels. Endothelium dysfunction means the body cannot regulate blood pressure and clotting, major factors in heart disease.

Promising studies are under way suggesting that curcumin might change cells at a molecular level, which may be helpful in treating cancer. Wouldn’t that be a game changer?

At Precision Health Spine and Sports Clinic one of the most common problems we see is the issue of inflammation. Whether it is caused through disease, injury or overuse, inflammation can cause pain, discomfort and difficulty of movement. Turmeric is well documented in treating inflammatory responses – in some studies it has even proven more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs.

So, including a bit of turmeric in our diet seems like a good plan all round. Supplements are a great idea if you have specific concerns and we can help you with advice on these at the clinic. As always, any supplements you take should be discussed with a health care professional. But if you are just after some of that memory-improving, anti-aging bonus, here are a couple of recipes you might like to try!

Golden turmeric chai latte

Flu-fighter chicken and turmeric soup

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