06 May Turmeric: One of the Great Spices of Life!
The yellow spice, curcumin, and its far reaching benefits.
Turmeric, (curcuma longa) is a spice used in many culture’s diets throughout Asia. Used as a medicine for centuries, it has many traditional uses ranging from alleviating various liver complaints to gastrointestinal infections. In recent times scientists have isolated a group of compounds called curcuminoids, and these compounds have had some very exciting applications to improving health.
Turmeric has come in to it’s own due to it demonstrating strong anti-inflammatory effects within studies. This is coupled with the fact that many disease processes have a strong underlying connection to inflammation. So this yellow spice has been quoted a disease process modifier. In simple terms, due to the fact that chemicals in turmeric reduce inflammation, it can reduce some of the underlying contributors to disease.
What compounds are doing this job?
Essential oils or odorous chemicals are contained in turmeric; these are one group that have anti-inflammatory actions. They also contribute to enhancing digestion via increasing bile secretion. They also calm the digestive tract down and stop it from cramping, thereby assisting people with irritable bowel syndrome for instance.
The other major group of chemicals are the curcuminoids, with the predominant one being curcumin. Curcumin is the strongest anti-inflammatory chemical and is comparable in strength to many pharmaceutical medicines. The difference between pharmaceutical medicines and curcumin is that curcumin has no associated side effects. It also combats inflammation in a way that does not cause dependence or slow tissue regeneration. This is very important in osteoarthritis and other joint degenerative disease sufferers.
So how do I take it?
Turmeric is used in many culinary dishes and is reasonably easy to take in large amounts but there is a catch to taking turmeric this way. The chemical curcumin is very hard to absorb past the gastrointestinal tract and therefore can’t act on other parts of the body. So this is where careful consideration of choosing your extract comes into play. Many methods have been formulated to assist the absorption of curcumin into the bloodstream and some many have had success, and others minimal success. The long held belief that black pepper enhances curcumin absorption is true but not enough to elicit high blood levels. So what scientists have done is either made curcumin particles very small or bound it to absorption enhancers or emulsified it in oil. These strategies have increased absorption considerably and made simple turmeric into a very potent natural medicine to fight the underlying factors to some of the world’s diseases.
If you would like to enquire about which turmeric extract you need to take to reap its benefits most efficiently, please contact Natmed and speak to our friendly naturopaths.