Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet, basically able to neutralize free radicals throughout the body.
Turmeric is native to Asia and planted widely in the tropics. In India turmeric has been used for over 2,500 years, the plant is considered lucky and has been used in celebrations and ceremonies for centuries. It’s deep yellow color is good for dyes and perfumes have been made out of its essential oils.
The most powerful compound in turmeric that works against diseases is called curcumin. Studies show that curcumin can be protective against diseases of aging like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have shown it to be helpful against HIV, as it stops the virus from replicating itself. It is also a very powerful antioxidant and has been shown to be three hundred times as powerful as Vitamin E, already known as a potent antioxidant. Curcumin inhibits carcinogens like benzopyrene, which is found in charcoal broiled meat, and may help prevent the growth of cancer cells.
The medicinal properties of this spice have been slowly revealing themselves over the centuries. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer's disease.
There is a great deal of curcumin and turmeric evidence in other areas, as well. The extracts are helpful with all manner of stomach issues including gas, bloating, belching, appetite loss, and nausea. They have been used for treating ulcerative colitis.
Researchers have studied the effects of turmeric on ailments such as cataracts and chronic anterior uveitis, which is an inflammation of the iris. It's effect on fungal infections, multiple sclerosis, and high cholesterol are also being investigated. The extract is currently being use to treat people with dyspepsia, which is inadequate bile flow in the gallbladder.
Today's herbalists and naturopaths consider turmeric to be one of nature's most potent anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Turmeric may help treat a variety of conditions related to inflammation and antioxidant damage, including cataracts, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. It is also used to treatment of scabies and digestive disorders, promote wound healing, and strengthen the immune system. Western medicine only recently began to study turmeric. However, this spice has long been used in Indian ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to treat infection, gallbladder problems, dysentery, arthritis, and liver disorders.
Several studies performed by Indian scientists have supported many of tumeric's traditional use to fight inflammation, indigestion, and liver and heart disease. Curcumin and curcuminoids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that act as natural cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors in the body, and inhibit the production of the prostaglandins that cause inflammation and swelling. Indian researchers found that tumeric relieved joint pain and swelling in people with arthritis as well as prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) without side effects such as abdominal bleeding or stomach upset. Turmeric is a natural antioxidant, and thus protects the body from oxidative damage.
Laboratory studies have found that tumeric inhibits the development of cataracts, breast cancer, colon cancer, and lymphoma. In one study, smokers that took just 1 teaspoon of tumeric a day for 30 days had lower levels of cancer-causing mutagens. In another study, just 500 milligrams of curcumin each day significantly reduced participants' cholesterol levels in as little as 10 days. Some studies indicate that turmeric's ability to lower cholesterol may provide the same heart-protective benefits as its close relative ginger, including blood clot prevention and reduced blood pressure. Turmeric helps detoxify the body, and protects the liver from the damaging effects of alcohol, toxic chemicals, and even some pharmaceutical drugs.
Studies have shown that people with a high dietary intake of turmeric report less cases of cancer. If you were looking for curcumin and turmeric evidence in the area of cancer prevention or treatment, you would find nearly 1000 separate studies in a single database.
Curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric rhizomes their orange color, has been shown to do all of these things: prevent the formation, slow the growth and cause the cancer cells to die. All of this has been seen without having any negative effect on healthy cells.
It is important to remember that these studies were conducted in the laboratory, using animal models and cell lines. The results are, therefore, considered preliminary. Currently, there are several clinical trials in progress. These will provide more conclusive curcumin and turmeric evidence, in the area of cancer treatment. As a preventative measure, health experts agree that a variety of plant extracts are beneficial, no single one is more important than any other.
Turmeric contains antioxidant properties that can counteract the damaging effects of free radicals, inhibit the growth of tumor cells, prevent the development of an additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth, among other cancer-fighting attributes.
A study in Biochemical Pharmacology found that curcumin can slow the spread of breast cancer cells in mice. "Curcumin acts against transcription factors, which are like a master switch," says lead researcher, Bharat Aggarwal. "Transcription factors regulate all the genes needed for tumors to form. When we turn them off, we shut down some genes that are involved in the growth and invasion of cancer cells."
In India, the prevalence of four commonly found cancers in the U.S. - colon, breast, prostate and lung - is 10 times lower. Turmeric is also thought to be the reason that prostate cancer is so rare in India.
The benefit of turmeric for treating Alzheimer’s disease is the subject of an ongoing trial. Many researchers believe that Alzheimer’s disease is a form of amyloidosis, where a type of non-soluble protein based plaque (also known as amyloids) forms within neurons themselves. These plaques first reduce conductivity and as they build up, inhibit the neuron’s ability to process glucose for energy, resulting in cell death.
Preliminary studies suggest that curcumin inhibits the formation of these plaques. It is said to have “anti-amyloid” activity.
It is believed by traditional Indian medicine that turmeric contains properties that cleanse the blood which in turn improves the condition of skin damaged by acne.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), turmeric is rich in anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties; this is why it is a perfect alternative to mainstream skin care topical medicines since it is natural and chemical-free. Turmeric can be used in cleaning and curing wounds and soothing the symptoms of skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema and contact dermatitis.
In addition, turmeric can also be a treatment strategy for contagious skin diseases such as scabies which are caused by harmful mites. In a study conducted in the early 1990s a turmeric preparation combined with leaves of the neem (Azadirachta indica) were used to remedy a scabies outbreak among 800 people and 97% of individuals from this group were completely cured in just 15 days of treatment. Turmeric has also been used as traditional herbal remedy for chicken pox and small pox and is believed to help hasten recovery of the skin from these skin diseases.
Although more research needs to be conducted in order to conclusively prove the health-giving attributes of turmeric, it is widely considered as a relatively safe and alternative solution in treating skin problems and in healing skin conditions. The potential of turmeric as an acceptable approach to skin care is promising since a lot of cosmetics and skin care products in the market already include it as an ingredient in their formulations.
Turmeric supports healthy liver function. It has been shown to be very helpful in increasing key detoxification enzymes in the liver, as well as induces the formation of a primary liver detoxification enzyme, glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzyme. It is also a natural cholagogue (a medicinal agent that promotes the discharge of bile), helping to detoxify the liver and helping the body digest fats.
Studies show that turmeric is as powerful as ibuprofen and hydrocortisone; the most widely accepted “anti-inflammatory” drugs in use today. The significant difference is that turmeric has no toxic side effects, unlike these two drugs. The fact that turmeric spice costs almost nothing is a sweet icing on the cake.
Dr. Randy J. Horwitz, the medical director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, wrote a paper for the American Academy of Pain Management in which he discussed the health benefits of turmeric.
“Turmeric is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available,” Horwitz states in the paper.
He went on to cite a 2006 University of Arizona study that examined the effect of turmeric on rats with injected rheumatoid arthritis. According to Horwitz, pretreatment with turmeric completely inhibited the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in the rats. In addition, the study found that using turmeric for pre-existing rheumatoid arthritis resulted in a significant reduction of symptoms.
Recent studies have shown that the antioxidant agents in turmeric help reduce insulin resistance, which may prevent the onset of Type-2 Diabetes. Therefore, a simple preventive remedy is to take one teaspoon of turmeric powder twice a day with meals. Curcumin extracts or capsules can also be used as an alternative to the powder.
WEIGHT LOSSCurcumin in turmeric powder has been found to help increase the flow of bile, an important component in the breakdown of dietary fat. Therefore, taking one teaspoon of turmeric powder with every meal may be an effective weight loss aid when combined with a healthy diet and exercise program.
Many forms of cardiovascular disease are caused by unhealthy cholesterol levels. When cholesterol oxidizes in the blood, it attaches to the vessel walls and builds up as plaque. Both the curcumin and the vitamin B6 in turmeric can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. In addition, vitamin B6 regulates homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is responsible for the direct damage of blood vessels.
Curcumin helps to lower cholesterol levels through interaction with the liver. Liver cells begin to produce increased amounts of mRNA, which increases the number of receptors for LDL cholesterol, thus increasing the elimination of LDL from the body.
Here are 20 reasons to add turmeric to your diet:
1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.
2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.
3. Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.
4. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to commit suicide.
5. Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.
6. Is a natural liver detoxifier.
7. May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain.
8. May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.
9. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.
10. Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice.
11. Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor.
12. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.13. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
14. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
15. Boosts the effects of chemo drug paclitaxel and reduces its side effects.
16. Promising studies are underway on the effects of turmeric on pancreatic cancer.
17. Studies are ongoing in the positive effects of turmeric on multiple myeloma.
18. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
19. Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.
20. May help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.
So, how can you get turmeric into your body? You can drink it in various teas or you can eat it in your food. The fresh root is sold in many health food stores, but the dried powder may prove to be more convenient.
Adding a consistent intake of turmeric can help your skin look healthier, because of its antioxidant properties, and aid your overall health on the inside by fighting off abnormal cells and boosting your immune system and metabolism.
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