The health claims about turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, are numerous. Turmeric is a zesty spice, a staple of South and Southeast Asian cuisine, and also has a long history of use in traditional medicine. But, aside from adding pow to curry, what can turmeric do for us? Why take turmeric supplements, and are there any clearly defined benefits that we can expect from adding a supplement to our daily routine?
Why the Buzz About Turmeric?
The potential of turmeric supplements to benefit our health is usually related to its active ingredient, curcumin. This compound is often described as a natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, so it is believed by some medical practitioners and alternative medicine advocates that overall irritation and inflammation in the body can be improved by the use of a turmeric supplement that includes a healthy dose of curcumin.
Researchers Are Studying the Benefits of Turmeric
Traditional medicine, like the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, all ascribe potent powers to turmeric. Improved digestion, promoted brain and nerve function, supported joint health, and improved immunity are among the benefits of turmeric, according to their traditions. Modern alternative medicine practitioners claim these and other benefits, often ascribing the power of turmeric to the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, one of the main chemical compounds in this savory spice.
The benefits of traditional medical practices have undergone increasing examination in recent years, and many studies, research, and reviews are being performed on the benefits to our health of taking a turmeric supplement.
Turmeric is an effective anti-inflammatory.
A natural anti-inflammatory is highly desirable in the age of moving toward more natural, holistic medicine.
The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin have been tested in numerous studies, including a 2017 review that noted that curcumin has been “shown to improve systemic markers of oxidative stress.”
Additionally, another derivative of turmeric, Turmacin, is an even more potent extract that is water-soluble and delivers even more clinically-proven anti-inflammatory benefits such as alleviating pain and increasing joint function and flexibility. Turmacin is significantly more bioavailable than curcumin, meaning more of it is absorbable and usable by your body, which is why it’s a key ingredient in ASYSTEM’s Radical Relief Pain System and Natural Anti-Inflammatory Pills over other derivative of turmeric!
Curcumin supports brain function.
Our nervous systems rely on neurotrophic factors (NTF) for neuron survival, cognition, and memory support. One of the primary markers of brain health is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This growth hormone decreases as we age and are subject to the impact of external factors that affect mental health.
Animal studies have shown that curcumin can boost levels of BDNF in the brain when subjects took daily doses of 50 to 100 mg.
Turmeric supports nerve heart health and regular function.
Our hearts are covered on the inside by a thin membrane, the endothelial. In healthy hearts, this layer helps regulate many important functions. Under the stress of certain conditions, the endothelial does not function optimally.
The effect of exercise and curcumin supplementation was shown to improve endothelial function in one study of postmenopausal women. Another study indicated that curcumin was as effective in improving endothelial function in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.
Curcumin can support mental wellness.
In traditional Chinese medicine and the Indian tradition of Ayurveda, turmeric has been a staple for kicking the blues. Could the properties of its active ingredient, curcumin, have a measurable effect when subject to scientific trials?
Several studies including one published in the 2014 edition of the Journal of Affective Disorders showed some improvement in mental health among individuals who took turmeric in a double-blind test.
Turmeric is good for your skin.
What does inflammation have to do with skin health? Inflammation occurs as the result of our bodies fighting against real and perceived threats. In the case of our skin, triggers like sun, pollution, irritating substances, or allergies can all cause inflammation and irritation, which manifests itself in the form of breakouts, blotches, and other unsightly conditions.
There are many skin treatments recommended by alternative medicine practitioners that use turmeric as a part of topical applications. They believe the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric can play a key role in helping:
- Reduce the appearance of acne
- Relieve irritation and redness
- Lighten skin spots and dark circles
- Add a glow to your complexion
Turmeric is an antioxidant.
Free radicals are molecules in your body with unpaired electrons. If you don’t remember your high-school chemistry, that means these molecules are highly reactive. In particular, they react with substances in your body like proteins and fatty acids. These reactions cause oxidation damage in your body that contributes to the aging process.
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize these free radicals, improving overall health and wellness.
Turmeric may assist with supporting metabolic function.
As we’ve discussed, inflammation and oxidative stress in the body can affect multiple systems within your body including your body’s ability to metabolize nutrients and energy properly. It doesn’t help that metabolic function can also be affected by a whole slew of different factors including poor diet, lack of exercise, and medical conditions, which is why factors like stress or poor sleep may result in weight change.
Studies have examined whether the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin might help in improving metabolic function, with one study in mice showing early signs of positive effects!
Turmeric for digestive health.
Digestive discomfort and overall stomach upset are often related to inflammation issues along the digestive tract. In Ayurveda, turmeric is often used for helping with digestive issues.
Studies are now investigating whether the use of herbs from Ayurveda practice, including turmeric, can be effective in alleviating digestive issues. While there is no definitive evidence as to the efficacy of turmeric in treating digestive issues, there’s certainly no harm in pepping up some dishes with this savory spice or enjoying a hot cup of turmeric tea for relaxing. After all, especially with Turmacin®, highly bioavailable turmeric extract means more of the good stuff to go around, and more of it being able to reach our digestive tract to work its soothing anti-inflammatory magic!
Some Cautions About Turmeric
As with any supplement, it’s important to consult with a medical professional before adding any supplement to your regular health and wellness routine. Also,ensure you always follow dosing instructions as indicated on the packaging of any turmeric, curcumin, or Turmacin® supplements you choose.
There’s little evidence of safety issues with turmeric, but there are a few side effects that can occur in some individuals. These can include:
- GI reflux
- Stomach ache
- Yellow stool
Turmeric: Great Potential
Great with curries, and great for your body. That’s turmeric. There’s much still to be learned about the positive benefits of turmeric and curcumin, but there’s a lot of promising research and study going on right now to investigate just what it can do. The long history of the use of this spice in traditional Asian medicine may be a potent clue to the wonders of this versatile spice, so it’s definitely worth giving a go, especially alongside other powerful natural ingredients to help you feel and do your best!