Turmeric is arguably the most effective dietary supplement in existence.
Many high-quality studies show that it has great benefits for your body and brain.
There is no shortage of health claims about curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. But what does the research say?
Like many herbs, turmeric (Curcuma longa) has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Grown primarily from the rhizomes or roots of a flowering plant in India and other parts of South East Asia, this flavorful spice, aside from giving curry its vibrant yellow color, turmeric is also known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action and properties. .
Turmeric's main active ingredient - and the one that gives the spice its characteristic yellow color - is curcumin. In fact, you can mention curcumin as the compound responsible for most of the potential health benefits of turmeric.
As you get older, increasing your turmeric intake can help with proper care.
How can you include turmeric in your diet and diet?
Unfortunately, turmeric (and curcumin on its own) doesn't absorb well into the bloodstream, and taking it in a curry once a month is unlikely to give you the desired anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. To reach the amounts of turmeric and curcumin that have been shown to provide benefits in research studies, turn to supplements.
Still, you may benefit from adding black pepper when using turmeric and / or taking a turmeric supplement containing black pepper.
“There is a compound in black pepper called piperine that actually helps make turmeric more bioavailable. Bioavailability refers to the amount of a substance that is absorbed or can be used by the body. ”
For example, a previous study showed that consuming 20 milligrams (mg) of piperine along with 2 grams (g) of curcumin increased bioavailability by as much as 2000 percent!
Here are the top 10 science-backed health benefits of turmeric.
Curcumin has an anti-inflammatory effect
One of turmeric's main claims is that it is often used to fight inflammation, and most of turmeric's anti-inflammatory powers can be attributed to curcumin.
According to a previous study, curcumin in the right dose may even be a more effective anti-inflammatory treatment than common anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, Advil and Aspirin.
Since chronic inflammation contributes to many chronic diseases, curcumin can help treat conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and arthritis.
Curcumin can help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis
Thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin can be a safe and effective long-term treatment option for people with osteoarthritis (OA).
In previous studies, people with osteoarthritis who took 1000 mg / day of Meriva experienced significant improvements in stiffness and physical function after eight months, while the control group saw no improvements. Meriva is a proprietary treatment that consists of a natural curcuminoid blend (75 percent curcumin; 15 percent demethoxy curcumin; and 10 percent bisdemethoxy curcumin), phosphatidylcholine (a chemical found in eggs, soybeans, and other foods), and microcrystalline cellulose (a refined wood pulp) commonly used by the pharmaceutical and food industry).
And a study in mice, published in the June 2016 issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy, found that 50 mg of oral curcumin per kilogram (kg) of body weight significantly slowed the progression of osteoarthritis, while a topical curcumin treatment also provided pain relief. That said, it remains to be determined whether the same benefits apply to humans.
Curcumin can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
Studies suggest that curcumin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may protect against some of the steps involved in the development of heart disease, including improving cholesterol levels.
Another study found that curcumin was equally effective at improving endothelial function in people with diabetes diabetes type 2 (heart disease is a common comorbidity of type 2) as the drug Lipitor (atorvastatin), a drug often prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Still, more research is needed to determine if curcumin is a safe and effective long-term treatment strategy for people with heart disease.
Curcumin can help treat or prevent diabetes
Turmeric's active component, curcumin, is credited with many of the spice's purported benefits.
A 2013 review suggests that curcumin can lower blood glucose levels as well as other diabetes-related complications. Researchers also found that curcumin may play a role in diabetes prevention. More human clinical trials are needed to better understand the effects of curcumin and turmeric.
Other research suggests that turmeric extract may help stabilize blood sugar and make diabetes more manageable. This extract can be found in over-the-counter supplements. It can also provide general health benefits, such as with digestion.
Curcumin can potentially prevent cancer and aid in treatment
Because inflammation is related to tumor growth, anti-inflammatory agents such as curcumin may play a role in the treatment and prevention of several cancers, including colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, breast, and stomach cancers.
In fact, research in mice suggests that curcumin may slow tumor cell proliferation and even prevent tumor formation. It can do this in a variety of ways, including disrupting the formation of cancer cells at different stages of the cell cycle, disrupting cell signaling pathways, and even killing those cancer cells.
Whether curcumin can help treat cancer in humans has yet to be determined, but research is ongoing.
Turmeric can help slow or reverse Alzheimer's disease
Turmeric can even protect your brain from common degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
How? By increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein found in the brain and spinal cord that plays a key role in keeping nerve cells (neurons) healthy and regulating communication between nerve cells, which is crucial for learning and memory.
Since common brain conditions like Alzheimer's are associated with lower levels of BDNF, turmeric (especially curcumin) can help slow or reverse brain degeneration.
That said, much of the research has been done in mice. Researchers note that more research is needed to confirm turmeric's effectiveness in the prevention and treatment of common brain diseases.
Turmeric can play a role in the treatment of depression
As with Alzheimer's, depression is also associated with lower levels of BDNF. Thanks to turmeric's ability to increase BDNF levels, the spice shows promise as an effective antidepressant.
In fact, one study showed that injecting rats with 50, 100 or 200 mg / kg curcumin for 10 days resulted in a dose-dependent increase in BDNF, with the higher dose of 200 mg / kg showing greater antidepressant effects.
Meanwhile, in a human study in which 60 patients with major depressive disorder randomly assigned them to one of three groups: one group received 20 mg fluoxetine daily (Prozac is a common brand name) another received 1000 mg curcumin and a third received a combination from both. By the end of six weeks, the three groups saw similar improvements, leading researchers to suggest that curcumin may be a safe and effective treatment for depressive disorders.
Still, scientists don't fully understand the role of turmeric and curcumin in treating depression, and more research in humans is needed to confirm that it is a safe and effective treatment.
Turmeric protects your body against free radicals
Antioxidants help protect your body against damage caused by free radicals, a class of highly reactive atoms generated in our body, as well as in environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke and industrial chemicals.
Too much exposure to free radicals can disrupt the fats, proteins and even DNA in your body, leading to a number of common diseases and health problems, including cancer, arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer's. Therefore, antioxidant-rich herbs such as turmeric can play a role in protecting against free radical damage.
Curcumin, in particular, is able to trap different types of free radicals, control enzymes that neutralize free radicals, and prevent certain enzymes from creating specific types of free radicals, according to research.
Curcumin can prevent eye degeneration
Glaucoma, a group of eye conditions, is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over the age of 60. And once the sight has disappeared, it cannot be restored unfortunately.
But preliminary research published shows that topical curcumin treatments can help protect eyes from degeneration. Researchers applied a proprietary curcumin eye drop solution to rats twice a day for three weeks. At the end of the study, the untreated rats experienced a 23 percent reduction in retinal cells compared to the treated group, suggesting that loss was prevented by the curcumin treatment.
The research results sound impressive, but more studies are needed to determine whether curcumin is effective in preventing eye degeneration in humans.
Curcumin can support the immune system
Interesting studies suggest that curcumin may act as an immune modulator affecting important immune cells, including T cells, B cells and Natural Killer cells.
In addition, curcumin appears to decrease pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines, whose long-lasting activity can lead to inflammatory damage.
When consumed in low doses, curcumin can also enhance our antibody responses, helping us fight infections. Animal studies suggest it may even play a role in controlling allergies, including hay fever.
Finally, about turmeric and the substance curcumin
Turmeric and especially the most active substance curcumin have much scientifically proven but also more extensively researched health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's and cancer.
It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and can also help reduce symptoms of depression and arthritis.
If you want to buy a turmeric / curcumin supplement, there is an excellent selection available online.
It is recommended to find a product with BioPerine (the trademark name for piperine), the substance that increases curcumin uptake by 2000%. Without this substance, most curcumin simply passes through your digestive tract.