Have you heard about turmeric lately? From the health-food store to your Instagram feed, turmeric is no longer the obscure root found in the depths of your spice drawer. Now it’s being touted as the next “superfood” due its powerful health benefits. But what is turmeric good for, exactly? Traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, turmeric has been used to treat a variety of ailments for thousands of years. This bright orange root is not only a popular choice for adding flavor to certain dishes, but is also packed full of nutrients that boast a myriad of health benefits. So if you’ve heard the hype and are wondering whether it’s all true, you’ll be happy to know that science has taken an interest in turmeric. There are numerous studies that show its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-aging capabilities. From helping to relieve pain in those suffering from osteoarthritis to cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s, turmeric may have the potential to help many health concerns.
Overview of Turmeric
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a root that belongs to the ginger family and is native to India and Southeast Asia. It comes from an underground root known as a rhizome and is a cousin to cardamom. Turmeric is usually dried and ground into a powder and has a yellowish-orange hue. It can also be used fresh and is often used to give curries a yellowish color. This root is also known for its healing abilities. Turmeric is filled with many powerful compounds, including curcuminoids, which are the main active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin is the most prominent curcuminoid, and it is what is responsible for the many health benefits associated with turmeric. This compound is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which may contribute to its numerous health benefits.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
One of the primary benefits of turmeric is its potential to help reduce inflammation. Many studies have found that taking a daily supplement of turmeric can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. In addition, some studies have found that turmeric can help to reduce pain in those with osteoarthritis and other joint pain. This can be especially beneficial for those who are looking for an alternative to traditional pain medications. Turmeric may also have potential benefits for brain health. Studies have found that curcumin can help to improve memory and cognitive function in those with Alzheimer’s disease. It may also help to protect the brain from damage caused by aging and oxidative stress.
Potential Side Effects of Turmeric
While turmeric is generally considered safe, it is important to note that it does have some potential side effects. Some people may experience an allergic reaction to turmeric, which can manifest as a rash or hives. In addition, turmeric may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and antacids, as it can increase the risk of bleeding or interfere with how the body absorbs certain medications. It is also important to note that many of the studies on turmeric have been done on animals or in vitro, which means that there is still much research to be done. Thus, it’s important to speak with your doctor before adding turmeric to your diet.
How to Incorporate Turmeric into Your Life
If you want the health benefits of turmeric, you’ll need a supplement. However, curcumin is not very ‘bio-available,’ meaning your body essentially needs help optimizing the absorption. You may have heard that combining black pepper helps. It creates basically 20 times the absorption rate of plain turmeric. My Chiropractor in episode 37 of my podcast also mentions fenugreek creates the same multiplier effect. This a good start, but there is a version of curcumin that was developed called “Longvida” which creates a 65 times absorption rate. This study shows a great graph mapping the progress that’s been made in optimizing curcumin. Longvida can be found in many brands on the market. This study notes that 400mg a day for 90 days was shown to improve measures for those suffering from osteoarthritis in their knees. Osteoarthritis is what forced my dad out of playing any sports recreationally when I was a kid. I only wish this science was available back then.
Turmeric is an ancient root that has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. It is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-aging effects, and may be beneficial for those looking for an alternative to traditional medications. Research shows that it can help to reduce pain and improve cognitive function, though more research is needed. Incorporating turmeric into your diet is easy and can be done by adding it to your cooking or taking a daily supplement. Be sure to speak with your doctor before adding turmeric to your diet to ensure it is safe for you. Lastly, remember that it works best when you take the Longvida optimized version of curcumin if you’re going to supplement with it.