What Is The History Of Turmeric?
This herb has been used in Asia for thousands of years and forms a major part of Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, Siddha medicine, and Unani.
There are different versions as to the origin of the name turmeric. Certain sources say the name could be of Latin origin, terra merita (which means, meritorious earth).
The name of the genes of the plant, Curcuma, is derived from the Sanskrit term kuṅkuma, which refers to both turmeric and saffron that are being used in India since the ancient times.
Coming to the important question, what is turmeric good for?
What Is Turmeric Good For?
One ounce of turmeric gives you 26% of your daily requirement of manganese and 16% of your daily requirement of iron. The herb is also a wonderful source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and vitamin C.
Turmeric improves your body’s ability to digest fats. It reduces gas and bloating as well. The herb treats other skin conditions like psoriasis, acne, and eczema.
It works wonders for inflammation – given that is has been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent both in Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. More importantly, turmeric can help prevent grave diseases like cancer and diabetes arthritis – and even aids in the treatment of certain brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and depression.
Even turmeric water can help in various ways. All you need are filtered water, half a teaspoon of turmeric, and honey (optional). You can add the turmeric after heating the water a little – stir in honey if you want. Drinking this mixture in the morning can give you a healthy dose of antioxidants and take care of your overall health in the long run.
Raw turmeric can help too. It prevents inflammation and wards off heart disease and stroke. For this very purpose, the turmeric root extract is extensively used in Indian cuisine. You can improve the absorption of turmeric by consuming it in whole food. Even taking turmeric root can enhance absorption – as the natural oils present can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin multifold.
1. It is an anti-inflammatory agent
The foremost reason to use turmeric in almost any health condition is its anti-inflammatory property.
Curcumin is the compound in turmeric that has potent anti-inflammatory property. As an anti-inflammatory agent, it inhibits the activity of nuclear factor kappa B- the master protein that regulates inflammatory process.
Like conventional anti-inflammatory agents, it inhibits the activity of inflammatory enzymes such as COX and LOX. Additionally, it inhibits the activity of various inflammatory chemicals and proteins such as TNF-alpha, interleukin etc.
One advantage over conventional anti-inflammatory agents is that turmeric does not cause gastric side effects. Curcumin free turmeric is also found to have anti-inflammatory property.
2. It is a natural painkiller
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory property contributes to its painkiller property. Its inhibitory action on inflammatory chemicals like prostaglandins and interleukins helps in reducing pain.
This painkiller property has been found to be useful in dealing with post-surgical pain and burn injuries.
Additionally, curcumin is also found to relieve neuropathic pain which is similar to pins and needles sensation.
Even turmeric oil has analgesic properties and research shows that its painkiller properties are comparable to aspirin.
3. It is a potent antioxidant
Curcuminoids present in turmeric are strong antioxidants. Their antioxidant activity is comparable to vitamin C and E. As antioxidants they function in 3 ways:
• Reduce oxidative stress or imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant species in the body
• Raise the level of antioxidant enzymes
• Scavenge free radical species that cause oxidative damage
4. It protects DNA from damage
Turmeric and curcumin have genoprotective property- they protect cellular DNA from damage. However, curcumin plays a dual role in DNA damage.
In case of cancerous cells, curcumin induces DNA damage and sensitizes cells to chemotherapeutic agents.
However, this is not the case with normal cells. A study shows that by virtue of its antioxidant property, aqueous turmeric extract offers 80% protection from DNA damage.
5. It helps in heavy metal detoxification
Turmeric benefits in the treatment of heavy metal poisoning by virtue of its antioxidant property and chelating (ability to bind to metal and remove them from the body) property.
6. Turmeric speeds up post operative recovery
Turmeric has a number of properties that benefit in restoring health and speeding recovery after surgery. Its anti-microbial and immune boosting properties help safe guard from infections.
Its wound healing properties help in quick healing of scars. Turmeric combats post-operative fatigue and pain.
7. It improves digestion and stomach health
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action is found to protect the digestive tract from bacterial infections.
Traditional medicine states that turmeric is a carminative- it helps in relieving bloating. Turmeric is an effective digestive aid.
8. It benefits in GERD and acid reflux
Turmeric benefits in acid reflux or GERD in multiple ways. It improves digestion, exerts bactericidal effect on H.pylori infection, prevents the formation of ulcers, soothes inflammation and even protects from silent reflux.
However, if taken at high doses or an empty stomach, it may trigger acid reflux in some.
9. It helps in treatment of inflammatory bowel disease
Curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties aid in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
10. It reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Turmeric extract supplementation is found to reduce abdominal pain and improve bowel movement in IBS.
11. Turmeric protects pancreas from disorders
Research shows that curcumin can prevent and treat pancreatitis. Its anti-inflammatory activity benefits in pancreatitis.
12. It reduces severity of various types of arthritis
Curcumin has multiple ways in treating rheumatoid arthritis:
• It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
• It improves antioxidant defences.
• It ameliorates autoimmune reactions.
• It protects bone cells.
Supplementation of curcumin in individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis is found to significantly reduce pain and improve joint function better than conventional therapy.
13. It protects bone in osteoarthritis
Research shows that curcumin formulations outperform conventional anti-arthritic drugs prescribed in osteoarthritis.
Curcumin also protects bone tissue and prevents bone loss.
14. It can help in healing of bone fractures
Traditionally turmeric has been used in treatment of bone fractures.
Topically turmeric paste is applied to affected region and Turmeric Milk is also ingested to hasten healing.
The mechanism behind this is that turmeric controls inflammatory process and helps in reducing pain. Further turmeric helps protect bone tissue and aids in bone remodelling.
15. It helps in treatment of muscle disorders
Research suggests that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory property can aid in treatment of various musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, musculocartilaginous disorders, and sarcoma etc.
It also helps in relieving pain, preventing loss of muscle mass and improving antioxidant defences.
16. It aids in treatment of thalassemia
Supplementation with curcuminoids improves antioxidant defense in thalassemia.
17. Dietary turmeric may benefit in anemia
Dietary turmeric can benefit in anemia due to its antioxidant property which aids in normalizing antioxidant defences in anemia. Additionally, curcumin exerts a protective effect on red blood cells.
Curcumin’s iron chelating activity is speculated to cause iron deficiency in anemia but turmeric is a rich source of iron.
18. Curcumin has anti-platelet property
Curcumin has blood thinning property- it prevents the formation of blood clots and reduces the risk of stroke.
Hence it is advised to avoid curcumin supplements with blood thinners. However, there is no evidence found in humans. This property of curcumin benefits in thrombosis.
19. It benefits spleen health
Turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property is found to benefit spleen health by boosting its immune function and protecting it from heavy metal toxicity.
20. It alleviates depression
Indian researchers have proven that curcumin is as good as Prozac in treating depression and combination of curcumin and Prozac is effective in treating depression than Prozac alone.
Scientific literature proves that curcumin benefits in depressive disorders in multiple ways: as an anti-inflammatory agent, antioxidant, neuroprotective agent.
1. Helps Treat Psoriasis
As per researchers, turmeric might obstruct the inflammatory enzymes linked to psoriasis. It can also lower the levels of cytokines, which stimulate cell inflammation and might eventually lead to psoriasis.
Using turmeric for psoriasis is pretty simple. You can take half a teaspoon of powdered turmeric and slowly add water to it. Keep stirring till you get a paste. Apply a thin layer of this ointment to the psoriasis lesions. Cover with some breathable fabric and leave it on overnight. Remove the fabric and rinse your skin with warm water the next morning.
The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric might have excellent benefits in treating psoriasis.
2. Aids In Acne Treatment
The antibacterial properties of turmeric aid in acne treatment. And its anti-inflammatory properties treat the inflammation caused by pimples. Turmeric can be used for oily skin as a face wash or a face pack.
You can also use turmeric milk for this purpose. Turmeric and milk have great healing properties that can help treat acne. All you need are 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 3 tablespoons of milk – along with 2 tablespoons of flour and a few drops of honey. Mix well, and apply a thin layer of this mixture on your face. Allow it to dry for 20 minutes. You can then rinse the mask off in the shower and apply your favorite moisturizer after the bath.
Turmeric milk can also help treat dry skin. The same face mask can serve the purpose.
3. Prevents Wrinkles
According to a Japanese study, turmeric can prevent the formation of wrinkles and melanin. It also prevents the reduction in skin elasticity caused by chronic UVB exposure.
4. Cures Stretch Marks
Turmeric works great for stretch marks. This is, again, because of curcumin – which penetrates the cell membranes. Curcumin is known to alter the physical properties of the cell membrane – and hence, it might cure stretch marks as well.
You can also use turmeric with clotted cream or curd. Simply apply this paste to your waist and stomach before your bath. Wait for about 20 minutes – allowing the treatment to soak in. Wash the paste in your bath.
And by the way, turmeric can treat scars too. A similar treatment should help.
5. Soothes Burns
The anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties of turmeric help soothe burns as well. Also, the burns (at least, most of them) won’t swell up when you use turmeric. You can also mix turmeric with other oils to enhance the treatment. Simply apply the mixture to the affected areas.
The astringent and antioxidant properties turmeric help heal wounds and reduce scarring.
6. Treats Skin Pigmentation
The bleaching properties of turmeric can help treat skin pigmentation. The herb can also keep the skin free from infection. All you have to do is mix one teaspoon each of turmeric powder and lemon juice. Apply the mixture to the affected area and leave it on for 20 minutes. Don’t go out in the sun for at least an hour. Rinse with cold water. You can do this once daily before showering.
This wonder spice also helps reduce tan. So, how to take turmeric? Take a pinch of turmeric along with some raw milk and lemon juice. Apply this solution to the affected areas. After allowing it to dry properly, wash it off with water.
You can also use a turmeric night cream to improve your complexion. You need a few soaked (and peeled) almonds, and one teaspoon each of turmeric, curd, lemon juice, saffron, and sandalwood powder. Mix all well and store in your refrigerator. Apply the mixture every night, and wash it off in the morning.
7. Treats Hirsutism
This is the condition where facial hair gets excessive – and it is a result of hormonal imbalances. Topical application of turmeric helps in this regard. Even taking turmeric orally can treat hormonal imbalances that cause hirsutism.
8. Heals Cracked Feet
The astringent properties of turmeric help heal cracked feet as well. You can mix equal quantities of castor oil and coconut oil and add a pinch of ground turmeric to make a paste. Apply this paste to your cracked heels and leave it on for 15 minutes. Rinse off with cool water.
9. Aids In Exfoliation
You can prepare a turmeric scrub that helps exfoliate your skin. Mix a tablespoon of turmeric with a tablespoon of water and apple cider vinegar (or rose water). Massage the mixture into the problem areas gently. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse well. Pat dry. You can use a gentle cleanser if the yellow color remains. Using this scrub twice to thrice a week helps remove dead cells from the skin.
1. Prevents Hair Loss
Certain studies say the curcuminoids in turmeric can help prevent hair loss. Though there isn’t enough evidence for this, using turmeric on your hair doesn’t have any harmful effects.
2. Helps Treat Dandruff
A mixture of turmeric and olive oil can eliminate dandruff and improve scalp health. Just mix equal parts of both and leave it on your hair for 20 minutes before shampooing.
That’s with the turmeric benefits for a healthy mane. But one must also know how to select the right kind of turmeric and how to store it.