A 5-Minute Guide to Turmeric and Your Health

A 5-Minute Guide to Turmeric and Your Health

Is turmeric a magical super spice or just another food fad? This golden yellow powder has played a major role in Eastern medicine for centuries, and now it’s showing up in supermarkets, health-food shops and research journals worldwide.

If you like Indian food, you’ve probably been eating turmeric regularly. It’s a major ingredient in curries, and is used as a natural colourant in many foods, including mustard. It belongs to the same plant family as ginger, and has an earthy, bitter, slightly peppery flavour.

Research on the health benefits of turmeric is still in the early stages. It’s a difficult substance to study, due to its unstable biology, but evidence is building for some interesting claims.

 

The Benefits of Turmeric

 

Reduces inflammation

Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin which appears to have anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies suggest it may control the pain caused by arthritis at a similar level to ibuprofen.

 

Strengthens bones

Certain forms of turmeric may help to speed up the healing of broken bones, and preserve bone mass. The National Institute of Health is investigating whether it can also provide protection from osteoporosis.

 

Treats skin conditions

As well as being an anti-inflammatory, turmeric also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Trials have shown it has the potential to treat a variety of skin conditions, including eczema, alopecia and psoriasis.

 

Helps to manage cholesterol

Some experts already recommend turmeric for lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol and increasing healthy HDL cholesterol. It’s particularly effective if taken as part of a diet low in saturated fats and high in soluble fibre.

 

Relieves nasal congestion

Do you have a cold that won’t go away? Maybe allergies or seasonal rhinitis? Turmeric has proved helpful to many people who suffer with persistent sneezing, stuffiness or runny noses.

 

Controls depression

Turmeric also shows promise for managing depression. There’s growing evidence the condition is linked to inflammation, and it also interacts with dopamine and serotonin, the brain chemicals that control mood and behaviour.

 

turmeric root powder and health benefits

 

Ways to Use Turmeric

 

Boost digestion

Turmeric has low bioavailability, which means your metabolism burns it off quickly, so very little is absorbed by the body. You can aid digestion by consuming it with black pepper and fatty foods, such as oil or full-fat milk.

 

Clean up

Due to its anti-inflammatory, turmeric may make your skin look and feel younger as well as helping to control some types of acne. Check labels to find turmeric in soap and cosmetics, or find recipes online for making your own products.

 

Smell good

Do you like warm, woody, spicy fragrances? You can find turmeric in some perfumes, and it’s also available as an essential oil for use in a variety of preparations as well as aromatherapy diffusers.

 

golden milk made from turmeric for health benefits

 

Safety Issues

 

Go Natural

There appears to be little risk when you use turmeric in traditional ways. That includes eating, drinking and applying it to your skin. You can add turmeric to salad dressings and scrambled eggs, sip it like tea or try a golden milk turmeric latte. Keep in mind that in powder form, even small amounts of turmeric can stain your skin orange.

 

Watch for side effects

The most common side effects of turmeric are nausea, diarrhoea and dizziness. They occur mostly in those who are sensitive to one or more varieties of curcumin, or people who use turmeric in large amounts over a long period of time.

 

Avoid complications

Turmeric is contraindicated for certain conditions and groups of people. These include pregnant or breast-feeding women, people with gallbladder issues and anyone using blood-thinning medication. If you’re due to have surgery, you should also stop taking turmeric at least two weeks in advance because it may interfere with blood clotting.

 

Discuss it with your doctor

Turmeric is contraindicated for certain conditions and groups of people. These include pregnant or breast-feeding women, people with gallbladder issues and anyone using blood-thinning medication. If you’re due to have surgery, you should also stop taking turmeric at least two weeks in advance because it may interfere with blood clotting.

 

While turmeric needs to be studied further, early evidence suggests it’s both safe and beneficial for reducing inflammation, as well as helping to relieve related conditions such as osteoarthritis. Try it for yourself by adding a pinch to your favorite dishes or shopping for products with turmeric on the label.