Superfood is a term sometimes used to describe food with high phytonutrient content that may confer health benefits as a result. Science is showing the protective effects of turmeric (Curcuma longa). It has been reported to possess a variety of pharmacological activities.
Turmeric is a plant native to tropical South Asia that is a true super-food shown to have remarkable healing and anti-inflammatory properties. The rhizomes are gathered and used very often as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for dyeing and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is cucurmin and has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.
The uses of turmeric, some described in ancient Indian medical texts, are indeed numerous. Indians put the spice on their Band-Aids as a disinfectant and sprinkle the powder on wounds to help them heal faster. People gargle with turmeric when they have laryngitis and rub it on the skin to cure cuts and psoriasis. They swallow it to treat bronchitis and chronic diseases such as diabetes. Modern medicine is starting to pay attention.
The National Institute of Health has funded at least eight studies investigating turmeric. The spice and a chemical it contains-curcumin- are being probed for their potential to prevent and treat a broad range of disease: cancer, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.
Recent research studies found out that the active ingredient of this supplement, curcumin, is able to make cells more resistant to infection. Often, people simply refer to curcumin when discussing this herb as it is the active ingredient. Turmeric contains curcuminoids such as curcumin which is a yellow pigment. Research studies in animals show that curcumin has the following health benefits:
- potent anti-inflammatory effects
- cancer prevention activites
- antioxidant effects
- stimulates and enhances the immune system
- antibacterial and antiviral properties
- blood-thinning effects
- Most of these research studies are done in animals only and few are done in human subjects. The positive results from these studies suggest that turmeric possesses many benefits for treating and possibly curing some of our common health problems.
HOW TO TAKE CURCUMIN
Curcumin as part of turmeric powder is very beneficial as a daily regimen if taken properly. The problem with curcumin is similar to that of resveratrol: The stomach won’t let it pass through to the small intestines enough to appear significantly in blood serum, where it has to be for cellular nourishment.
That is easily resolved with turmeric by combining it with fats. Cold pressed oils, coconut oil, organic butter, ghee, raw milk, and organic cottage cheese are optimum choices. It has also been discovered that heat helps absorption without decomposing the curcumin in turmeric. Some users mix turmeric in warm water. After all, curry involves cooking with some sort of fat.
The curcumin extract capsules, used for extreme conditions or by those who can afford the convenience, pose the same absorption problems with a different set of solutions. This extract is usually in capsules. Enteric coating needs to be used to keep the capsule intact in the stomach yet to allow it to break down in the small intestines, allowing for immediate absorption into the blood. So you need to look for that on the label or you’re wasting your money.
Some curcumin extract providers insert piperine, an extract of black pepper, to help absorp the curcumin. But curcumin supplements using piperine can cause problems with pharmaceutical medications. So if you are on pharmaceuticals, avoid curcumin extracts with piperine.
Unless your situation warrants higher supplementation, consuming turmeric at one to three teaspoons full per day with fats to get the curcumin into your bloodstream provides an inexpensive, safe,* and effective anti-inflammatory, anti-aging boost to your health.
*Those afflicted with hepatitis or gallbladder stones need to use caution…
“We know turmeric has been used for hundreds of years, if not thousands, in China and Indonesia and is very valuable to these people,” added James Adams, a professor at the USC School of Pharmacy. “It is clearly a very useful plant that we need to know more about. Basically we are waiting for more studies.”