Excerpts from “Turmeric: Spice Up Your Health,” by Barbra Wexler, MPH
A Culinary Treasure
Even if turmeric isn’t in your spice rack, you’ve probably tasted it. It’s the warm, spicy, slightly bitter note in curries and many Middle Eastern dishes. Indian delicacies such as fiery hot vindaloos and tandooris benefit from its infusion of rich color and subtle but complex flavor.
Even if you haven’t sampled exotic cuisines, chances are you have still encountered turmeric. It’s the spice that colors and lends its scent to many kinds of mustards and gives them a distinctive, vibrant golden-yellow hue. Turmeric is also a principal ingredient in Worcestershire sauce and is used to color and flavor butter, margarine, yellow cakes, popcorn, jellies, chutneys, relishes, seasoning blends, yogurt, cheeses, canned chicken broth, cereals, orange juice and more. Turmeric blends well with other spices, complementing chili powder, coriander, cumin and cinnamon. Like many spices, it is also a natural preservative.
The Root of Medicine
Beyond being a mouthwatering spice used to enhance the flavor of your favorite ethnic dishes, turmeric is also a good source of vitamin C and magnesium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, iron and potassium.
Turmeric may very well be the most researched spice in terms of medicinal and health-promoting applications. Because curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer actions, it has the potential to address a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic diseases.
Laboratory cell culture and animal studies suggest that curcumin has tremendous potential as an antiproliferative, anti-invasive and antiangiogenic agent; as a mediator of chemoresistance (protecting against damage from chemicals or drugs and the effects of drugs) and radioresistance (helping to protect against damage caused by radiation); as a chemopreventive agent to protect against the development of a wide range of diseases; and as a therapeutic agent in wound healing, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease and arthritis.
These actions are mediated through the regulation of various transcription factors, growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, protein kinases and other enzymes. Curcumin has demonstrated actions comparable to drugs that block tumor necrosis (death of living tissue).
The Benefits of Turmeric
While there are a plethora of health benefits that come with taking Turmeric, the list below indicates some of the most well researched and supported ailments and diseases that may be relieved or prevented by consuming turmeric:
- Supports arthritic inflammation relief
- May relieve skin irritations and help to heal wounds by reducing free radicals and temporary inflammation
- Works to prevent cataracts by helping the body combat free radicals
- May relieve digestive discomfort by reducing temporary inflammation
- May help the body when faced with brain injury
- May help the body combat bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections
While there’s no guarantee that Turmeric can cure you of any or prevent any diseases, it may help to relieve or slow the process. If symptoms for any of the above illnesses occur, contact a licensed physician immediately.