Turmeric – What is it?
Turmeric is a type of dried root that belongs to the ginger family. They are often mistaken for ginger because of their physical similarities. However, turmeric is extracted initially from its roots (rhizomes) through the plant that shoots up at the surface called Curcuma Longa. That is where the powdery product from the turmeric plant is made as soon as it is boiled, dried and grounded. Turmeric usually thrives in areas where the temperature is humid with a considerable amount of rainfall annually. Its bright yellow-orange color can often be mistaken as curry. However, it only gives curry its trademark color as turmeric is not spicy. Turmeric is known to have a peppery and earthy aroma and flavor which usually adds flavor to Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Turmeric also gives mustard its bright yellow color.
What Was Turmeric Used For?
Turmeric has been a native plant that is popular in countries like India, Middle East and some parts of Southeast Asia where the climate is warm and wet all year round. Although its origin is unknown, turmeric has been around for about 4000 years and has since been known for using it for culinary purposes primarily as an added spice. However, turmeric has been known to be used for other purposes as well.
Below are some of the ways that described turmeric used in recorded history:
- Turmeric is used as traditional medicine
Before the rise of modern medicine, turmeric has been reported to have healing properties even dating back to the early centuries. It has been known that turmeric is provides relief for liver and digestive problems as well as for its anti-inflammatory effects. Not only that, turmeric is known to have beautifying effects as well.
Turmeric has been used as a treatment for various infections and internal disorders including common colds, and indigestion that was originally practiced by the Siddha and Ayurveda cultures. The reason why turmeric is popular for its medicinal properties is because of its bioactive compound called curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that helps in heart, cardiovascular as well as joint health.
Curcumin is one the most active ingredient in turmeric that is known for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin is also what gives turmeric its noticeable bright orange-yellow color and is found in higher amounts than that of ginger. Curcumin is actually what makes turmeric a potent alternative for treating health problems concerning the digestive system, liver, joints, and heart. However curcumin by itself has significantly low bioavailability. This means that the body cannot easily access and absorb the compound. With turmeric, the body is guaranteed to absorb better because of the high concentrations of curcumin contained in them.
Nowadays, many medical practitioners have recognized turmeric as a natural supplement that has a positive impact on cognitive, cardiovascular and digestive health.
- Turmeric is used as a dye
Because of its distinct bright color, turmeric has long been used as a dye for fabrics despite its poor dye quality. It is mostly used in traditional Indian clothing, and some used in monk’s robes. Other uses for turmeric are flavors in mustards as well as other foods.
What are some of the ways to consume turmeric?
- Turmeric Tea or Tonic
Turmeric is also popularly known as the Golden Milk. Drinking it as a tea of the most popular ways to consume turmeric. More and more people are recently integrating turmeric into their diet because of its many health benefits. To make the tea, all you need to do is simply brew or boil the root or powder of turmeric and mix it with other spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. It is said that adding black pepper enhances the bioactive component of curcumin in turmeric. Taking turmeric as a tea or tonic especially during cold or flu season can greatly help in relieving the symptoms.
- Turmeric Extracts or Powder
This is usually just the powder form of turmeric that is simply used as a spice to add in dishes like soups, stews and broth. Adding the powder would provide a healthy boost for any meal.
- Turmeric Supplements
As modern medicine has recently recognized the health value that turmeric provides, more and more people are taking them as concentrated supplements which they integrate into their diet. These supplements are available for purchase in health food stores, or they can also be purchased online.
- Turmeric Masks for face and skin
As turmeric is known to beautifying effects on the skin, it is also a good idea to spread some on your skin. To prepare this, just mix a few tablespoons of ground turmeric powder with water (just enough to make it pasty in texture). With this, you can also add healthy oils like coconut oil, sesame oil or almond oil. Apply the concoction on your skin and wash off after 15 minutes. Keep in mind that turmeric can temporarily stain the skin. Try using the masks on areas that can be covered easily. Otherwise, be prepared to have orange skin for a little while.
- Turmeric as a teeth whitener
Despite its bright orange color, turmeric is reported to have whitening effects on the teeth. All you need is turmeric powder and toothbrush. Dip your toothbrush in the turmeric mix and brush your teeth thoroughly as usual. However, instead of rinsing immediately, allow the turmeric to sit on your teeth for 3 to 5 minutes. Spit the mixture and rinse and brush your teeth a second time with regular toothpaste. The turmeric may leave yellow stains on some corners of your teeth. Simply brush thoroughly as once it is fully rinsed away, whiter and brighter teeth would be noticeable. Usually, you can see a difference upon first application. If this does not happen, give it a few days to a week to let turmeric do its magic.
There are so many good things that turmeric can do for us in our lives and our health. It’s often hard to believe that one ingredient can pack up so many powerful benefits to our body. It is no wonder that turmeric has been a staple ingredient for centuries in food and medicine particularly in India, parts of Southeast Asia and across the Middle East. So, what are the benefits that we gain from taking turmeric?
- Turmeric helps in improving memory and maintains our brain health
There are many reasons why the nerves surrounding the brain can get damaged and cause problems. While it can be genetic, other factors can also contribute. Alzheimer’s disease is a common disease in elderly people. Alzheimer’s is a kind of dementia which can create problems with memory, cognition, thinking and behavior.
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been shown that it can help regenerate cells. This would effectively improve the memory, mood and cognitive function of a person’s brain. What’s more, it can also help with boosting memory.
- Turmeric helps in preventing heart diseases and other cardiovascular problems
When we grow older, it becomes easier for us to be prone to heart problems. Majority of the death in the population is due to this problem. Over the years, studies have shown that high levels of cholesterol have contributed to different heart-related deaths, which includes stroke and heart attack. Consuming turmeric can help in preventing the buildup of clots and hardening of arteries which would effectively prevent the risk of strokes. Drinking turmeric tea can also effectively lower cholesterol. Also, having turmeric in the body’s system after drinking tea can help regenerate cells after a stroke.
However, it is important that the amount of turmeric consumed for people suffering from heart ailments should be monitored. This is especially for those who are on medication with lower blood pressure. Combining both can lead to an adverse reaction and can cause excessive bleeding.
- Turmeric helps to maintain our digestive health
Traditional medicine has used curcumin as a treatment for a lot of digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome. Turmeric helps promote healthy bacteria inside the intestines. This would ensure that generation of many harmful bacteria would be prevented. As turmeric is anti-inflammatory, it would help relieve the pain of people suffering from digestive problems. It would also help in reducing cramps that are associated with these problems.
However, turmeric is considered a strong spice. That would mean it is not advisable for people to take if they are suffering from ulcers or heartburns as it can be harsh on the stomach. Consulting with the doctor before consuming turmeric tea is essential.
- Turmeric helps in lowering our blood pressure
Curcumin and its properties can relax blood vessels and would reduce decreased blood flow that’s associated with increased blood pressure. This would also prevent hypertension.
- Turmeric can help with depression
Although still at its early stages, studies have shown that turmeric can benefit in correcting depression symptoms. Research trials have shown to improve in depressive states in animals. It was discovered that curcumin has properties similar to Prozac that can help in managing depression.
- Turmeric can help prevent various types of cancer illnesses
Another major death that is common to the population is cancer. Millions of people are terrified of the idea of being diagnosed with cancer. Cancer would usually associate with bad lifestyle choices like unhealthy food consumption and high amounts of stress. Another reason that would contribute to cancer is also that it is hereditary.
Turmeric contains antioxidants that contain molecules which move inside the body and prevent free radicals from further damaging the healthy cells. Studies have shown that these antioxidants effectively prevent the development of various cancers. Some of these cancers include the brain, lungs, colon and breasts.
The curcumin in turmeric also prevents cancer from spreading to different parts of the organs. For patients who are already suffering from cancer, drinking turmeric frequently would help in preventing cancer cells from reforming after treatment.
Good news for those wanting to lose weight! Consuming turmeric is one of the great ways to effectively reach your weight loss goals. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, increases metabolism by helping in burning fat. Turmeric can also regulate blood sugar levels to stay at healthy levels. As a result, this would lessen hunger pangs as well as help with people suffering from diabetes. Also, since turmeric has antioxidant properties, it would help in detoxifying the body especially the liver.
- Turmeric boosts our immunity and fights off many kinds of infection
It has been proven in turmeric to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This would help in relieving the pain of respiratory problems. Some of these problems would include sinus infections and sore throats.
Consuming Turmeric – How much is enough?
Although turmeric is known to provide plenty of health benefits, there are some questionings about how much and how often turmeric should be consumed within a day. Turmeric itself is safe, but consuming it would also depend on the medical situation of an individual. Too much consumption of turmeric may have negative effects on some people especially if they have an underlying medical condition that cannot absorb turmeric as generally as others. In the same way, too little turmeric can do little or nothing to people who need it in their diet. This is particularly for people who take turmeric as a preventive treatment.
– It is safe to take at least one teaspoon of pure and good quality powder a day. This means drinking turmeric tea should be taken at least once a day
– There should be limits of consuming turmeric especially for patients who are using it as a preventive dose. For turmeric powder, there shouldn’t be a problem exceeding the use of it.
– It is important to remember that taking turmeric is very safe to use. Side effects would only occur when high dosages are taken for long periods of time.
It’s time to be healthy, naturally!
It’s important always to keep ourselves healthy to prevent future problems. There are a lot of ways to do so without the need of intensive treatment. Natural remedies are one of them, and we are blessed that our earth is abundant in many types of plants that help in maintaining an organic therapy to keep us healthy and happy. So, don’t wait until health problems come, there is never a good time because now is always a good time.
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