Benefits of Turmeric

Guest blog post by Charles Watson, Head Content Writer & SEO Director for Willow Springs Recovery

A bright yellow or gold-colored spice, turmeric is grown from a tall plant that thrives in Asia or Central America.  Commonly found in curry, mustard, and other foods, turmeric can be found in almost any grocery store. In many different cultures, its bright color has inspired people to use it as a dye for fabrics.

Turmeric is also found in teas, powders, capsules, and extracts.  While many people are aware of the taste of turmeric and its bright color, they may not be aware of the health benefits turmeric may possess.

Scientists have studied the different health benefits of turmeric and how it may help ease chronic pain and inflammation.  Many people treat chronic, widespread pain and inflammation with pain pills or different kinds of medicine that may be highly addictive and produce harmful side effects.  Turmeric may thus provide a natural alternative to Western medicine.

Six Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one tablespoon of turmeric contains

  • 29 calories

  • 0.91 grams of protein

  • 0.31 grams of fat

  • 6.31 grams of carbohydrates

  • 2.1 grams of fiber

  • 0.3 grams of sugar

This breakdown might not make much sense at first glance, but it means that a small amount of turmeric, one tablespoon, can benefit our bodies tremendously.  Besides reducing inflammation and chronic pain, turmeric may offer other health benefits:

Turmeric may increase the action of antioxidants

A study reported that antioxidants cause damage that leads to drastic aging and the development of many diseases.  Antioxidants include free radicals, reactive molecules, and unpaired electrons. Free radicals react with compounds such as fatty acids, proteins, or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Antioxidants are beneficial to our body because they fight free radicals.  Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, is an antioxidant whose chemical design may help it successfully neutralize free radicals.  Not only is turmeric an antioxidant, but it also boosts our bodies' own antioxidant enzymes.

  • Curcumin may lower the risk of heart disease

Heart disease affects hundreds of thousands of people around the world.  Although scientists have studied it for years, heart disease is complicated and many underlying factors contribute to it.  The curcumin in turmeric may improve the function of the endothelium.  The endothelium is the lining of the blood vessels.

Endothelial dysfunction is a major contributor to heart disease.  It prevents the lining of our blood vessels from regulating blood pressure and blood clotting.  Curcumin is also an antioxidant booster and reduces inflammation, and inflammation also contributes to heart disease.

  • The curcumin in turmeric may help prevent cancer

Studies show that using herbal treatments such as curcumin may slow cancer growth, development, and spreading at an atomic level.  It may play a role in the death of cancerous cells and reduce angiogenesis and metastasis.

While these studies have discussed how the curcumin in turmeric may treat cancer, many doctors still advocate the use of radiation and chemotherapy treatments because there are unanswered questions about curcumin and turmeric.  With continued study and advancements, it is possible that curcumin and other herbal applications will be used to treat cancer and other conditions.

  • Curcumin may help arthritis pain

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, mostly in the joints of the hands, hips, knees, and ankles.  It is one of the most common forms of chronic pain and affects many people. Since curcumin can help ease inflammation, it may be useful for people who suffer from arthritis.

There are different types of arthritis and many are painful.  Natural substances such as turmeric may be affordable and accessible ways to treat the pain and inflammation of different types of arthritis.  In different studies, researchers found that curcumin was more helpful than many anti-inflammatory drugs for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

  • Curcumin may help with depression

Many people have depression or know someone with it.  Depression can lead people to feel that they have nothing to live for and that they are worthless.  After many years of depression, many people struggle with thoughts of death and dying, attempt suicide, or take their own lives.  While there are several different drugs for depression, some of them may worsen the symptoms of depression.

Researchers have compared the results of using turmeric and common antidepressant medications.  They conducted a controlled trial featuring sixty people with depression and randomly sorted them into three different groups.  The first group took the antidepressant medication Prozac, the second group took one gram of curcumin, and the third group took Prozac and curcumin.

After the six-week trial, the researchers found that curcumin had similar effects as Prozac, but the group that took both substances benefited the most.  This study demonstrated that the curcumin in turmeric had the same effect on people with depression as one of the most common drugs for depression.

  • Curcumin may help people with Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer disease’s is a heartbreaking disease.  When it affects people, it slowly takes their whole lives.  It is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases in the world and affects thousands of people every day.  Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and there are few good treatment options available.

Scientists have found that both inflammation and oxidative damage play a significant role in Alzheimer’s disease.  Since curcumin helps treat inflammation and oxidative damage, it may potentially help people suffering from the disease.  Although there have been few studies about curcumin and Alzheimer’s, curcumin's effects and its natural and plant-based properties may warrant further investigation.

You may want to consider using the golden spice turmeric when you are eating or preparing meals.  Even if you are not struggling with chronic pain, inflammation, or other conditions, you may want to add turmeric to your diet to help boost your body.

Turmeric may support the health of our immune system, relieve chronic pain, and may even aid in digestion, which may make it a healthy additive.  It is important to speak with your doctor if you are considering using turmeric. This way, you will be trying to solve your problems instead of worsening them.

While turmeric may be a great alternative way to heal our bodies, we should use it thoughtfully and carefully, just like any other substance.