Turmeric was traditionally called “Indian saffron” because of its deep yellow-orange colour and has been used throughout history as a healing remedy.
A relative of ginger, turmeric is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, haemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.
The yellow or orange pigment of turmeric is called curcumin and is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents
There’s not a huge amount of scientific research to back these theories up, but that doesn’t mean the benefits should be dismissed out of hand.
Here are just 5 health benfits that Turmeric has been credited with.
1. Prevents heart attacks
A 2012 study found that the use of Turmeric was beneficial in preventing heart attacks among bypass patients.The research followed 121 patients who had bypass surgery between 2009 and 2011. Three days before surgery and up to five days after, half of the patients took curcumin capsules, while the other half took placebo pills.
30% of those in the placebo group experienced a heart attack during their recuperation compared with those who took the supplements with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin being credited.
2. Delays the on-set of Diabetes
In a 2012 study participants with prediabetes were given either curcumin supplements or placebo capsules over a nine month period.
Just over 16% of people taking the placebo pill were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes by the end of the study, while no one taking curcumin was. Again, this has been put down to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers of Turmeric.
3. Reverses the ageing process
Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind the ageing process as it involves free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. Free radicals tend to react with important organic substances, such as fatty acids, proteins or DNA.
Curcumin happens to be a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure and also stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms – all helping to reverse the signs of ageing.
4. Improves brain functionality
Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of the growth hormone Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) that functions in the brain.
Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of this hormone. This includes depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin can boost levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.
5. Fights cancer cells
Researchers have been studying curcumin as a beneficial herb in cancer treatment. It can affect cancer growth, development and spread at the molecular level and studies have shown that it can reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumours), metastasis (spread of cancer), as well as contributing to the death of cancerous cells.
Put simply Curcumin leads to several changes on the molecular level that may help prevent and perhaps even treat cancer.