For over centuries, people have been using spices to add flavor to their food and because their rich nutrients provide natural healing properties. The most popular spice in the health world at the moment seems to be turmeric, as according to many studies, it has many healing properties, such as beauty treatments, healing external wounds, improving digestion and even helping with inflammation, pain, and cancer.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is made up of hundreds of compounds, each with unique properties. Curcumin (which comprises around 2-9 percent of the turmeric root) is one of those compounds that is widely studied around the world. Curcumin is also found in ginger, another spice filled with nutrients!
- An anti-inflammatory (7, 10)
- Anticancer (7)
- Alleviating allergies (6, 9)
- Arthritis pain reliever (6)
- Treating depression (11)
- Controlling diabetes (12)
- Decreasing risk of heart attack (2, 6)
Turmeric for Inflammation
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s way to self-protect, and it removes harmful stimuli to begin the healing process. There are two types of inflammation, acute inflammation, and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation occurs immediately after an injury, and can quickly become severe, however, it is often essential for the repair of damaged tissues. Chronic inflammation is long-term; it can last for months or even years.
How Does Inflammation Affect Your Health?
There are multiple ways inflammation can affect your health. Since chronic inflammation is long-term, certain medical conditions can start to develop such as cancer, asthma, arthritis, obesity, heart disease and much more.
Usually, chronic inflammation occurs due to an underlying problem, such as an unhealthy lifestyle. In an article written by Dr. Mercola, a certified nutritionist named Donnie Yance stated that chronic conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease have a strong link with chronic inflammation, which promotes the production of free radicals (Mercola, 2009).
There are many natural ways to help subside inflammation as opposed to exclusively relying anti-inflammatory medications. Adding turmeric to your diet can increase antioxidants in your body; these are agents that help reduce inflammation.
What is The Difference Between Whole Turmeric and Supplements?
The main difference between whole turmeric and supplements is that curcumin is in a much higher, concentrated form in supplements. For example, you can get about 500mg of curcumin in a supplement form (ie. capsule), but 1 tsp of turmeric powder will give you only about 15mg.
Whole turmeric looks like an orange version of garlic, and powdered turmeric is a dried yellow/orange powder, usually used in Indian cuisine such as curry. Using fresh or powdered turmeric adds that rich flavor to your meals.
Some people do not like the bitter taste of turmeric and may not want to add it to their daily meal, so instead, they take daily supplements as a replacement. These supplements include some of the essential oils found in whole turmerics, but it mainly includes the curcumin compound. In order for the supplements to provide therapeutic benefits, it must contain at least 95% standardized curcumin.
Curcumin is the most important compound found in turmeric. Its therapeutic effects for health conditions are much better served using supplements because they are more potent than whole turmeric. Regular use of turmeric is good for preventative and overall health.
Side Effects of Turmeric Supplements
You should not take these supplements if:
- You are pregnant – raises risk of miscarriage
- You are trying to conceive or you’re having trouble conceiving – it could add to your difficulties
- You have gallstones or gallbladder disease – it could make problems worse
- You have a scheduled surgery within the next two weeks – could increase risk of bleeding
- You take medications that slow clotting such as aspirin – it could increase the risk of bleeding and bruising
- You have stomach problems – it could cause gastric irritation, nausea and/or diarrhea
- You take diabetes medication – it could increase the risk of hypoglycemia
- You have iron deficiency
According to the university of Maryland’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide, the following are suggested dosages of turmeric for adults:
- Cut root: 1.5-3 grams/day
- Dried, powdered root: 1-3 grams/day
- fluid extract (1:1): 30-90 drops/day
- Tincture (1:2): 15-30 drops 4 times a day
- Standardized powder supplement: 400-600 mg 3 times a day
Herbs and spices are a great alternative to prescription drugs and can provide more benefits than just anti-inflammatory relief. Simply adding a teaspoon to your daily diet can increase the antioxidants in your body. That being said, always consult your doctor before reducing or eliminating prescriptions from your routine.