Turmeric has been used as a spice for thousands of years in Asia. The delicious flavor of this compound made it irresistible. However, the popularity of turmeric did not spike until recently. This may be due to the emerging studies that proved its benefits.
When reading these studies, you will encounter the term curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric.
In this article, we will start by overviewing turmeric and then cover a few of its evidence-based benefits.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice that stems from the Curcuma longa plant, which belongs to the same family as ginger.
Curcumin has several beneficial properties, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Most of the research out there revolves around the benefits of curcumin in fighting chronic diseases, where inflammation and oxidative stress are contributing factors. However, there is some evidence that curcumin interferes with the cells in more than one way.
Note that curcumin gives the yellowish color of turmeric.
The benefits of turmeric
1. Relieves pain
In a 2018 paper, scientists analyzed a number of studies to review the pain-relieving properties of turmeric. The results of this analysis showed that turmeric supplements reduce pain and discomfort. The exact mechanisms are still unclear.
Another study focused on the effects of turmeric on neuropathic pain. The purpose was to unveil the biochemical mechanisms that led to pain relief. Careful scrutiny of the results showed that curcumin downregulates certain metabolic pathways that produce pain-stimulating proteins. Simultaneously, it upregulates the production of analgesic proteins.
2. Dampens inflammation
According to studies, low-grade inflammation is the hallmark of most debilitating diseases, including
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Certain types of cancer
Treating low-grade inflammation with pharmacological drugs is not practical due to their numerous side effects. The risks simply outweigh the benefits.
This is why scientists are always looking for alternative ways to dampen inflammation without having to resort to medications. Fortunately, curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects that can even match certain drugs.
Curcumin prevents the expression of cytokines and interleukins, which are the drivers of inflammation in the body.
When these inflammatory compounds are elevated in your body, they trigger a constant state of inflammation, leading to:
- Blood vessel damage
- High rates of apoptosis (i.e., cell death)
- Hypersensitivity to pain
Blocking the production of these molecules is key to stopping inflammation. Curcumin is one of the few molecules that has near-consensus when it comes to its inflammation-dampening properties.
3. Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Curcumin increases the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This molecule is responsible for neurogenesis (i.e., the production of new nerve cells).
Interestingly, many studies found that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have low levels of BDNF. Supplying your body with curcumin may lower the risk of this disorder and other neurodegenerative illnesses.
We should note that patients with depression also have low serum levels of BDNF.
4. Improves memory
Many people started experiencing better cognitive abilities after taking turmeric supplementation. A sharpened memory is one of the commonly discussed benefits. However, it is important to note that these benefits take a long time to show up.
One clinical trial showed that taking 90 milligrams of curcumin twice a day for 18 months can improve memory in individuals without dementia. Researchers attributed this action to curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
5. Lowers risk of heart disease
Heart disease is a multifactorial pathological process. In other words, it results from a variety of factors. With that said, inflammation and oxidative stress remain the primary two drivers of this illness.
Researchers found that turmeric may reverse heart disease. Taking curcumin supplements for 12 weeks led to a significant reduction in resistance artery endothelial production. The latter is a key player in high blood pressure.
In a retrospective study, scientists followed 121 people who underwent coronary artery bypass surgery. One group took 4 grams of curcumin per day a few days before and after the surgery. Compared to the other patients, participants who took curcumin had a 65% risk reduction of experiencing another heart attack in the hospital.
Some might argue that the first group was already taking curcumin supplements before the first heart attack, so why didn’t it help them?
The answer is simple:
6. Helps prevent cancer
Curcumin may interfere with the growth of certain cancers, according to several studies.
Speak with your oncologist about the potential benefits of taking turmeric supplements if you have cancer.
Where to get turmeric
The best way to supply your body with turmeric is through supplements. Unfortunately, the market is full of cheap products that undergo no regulations during production. The result? A waste of time and money.
If you don’t want to fall victim to these scams, check out this product. It is vetted through every step of production and strictly follows the regulation of the FDA.
Turmeric provides the human body with several health benefits, affecting your heart, brain, and other organs. Taking this supplement on a regular basis can moderate inflammation and oxidative stress, which leads to the benefits covered above.
We hope that this article helped you appreciate the potential benefits of turmeric and how it can prevent some of the most debilitating diseases.
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