Is Turmeric Right For You?

Is Turmeric Right For You

Turmeric contains curcumin, a yellow-colored chemical that is commonly used as a food coloring and in cosmetics. Oftentimes Turmeric is used in Asian foods and is actually the primary spice in curry dishes. Turmeric is a spice that comes from a plant in the ginger family and is often used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butter, and cheese. As a spice, Turmeric is known to have a warm and bitter taste. However, in recent years it has been promoted as a dietary health supplement. Naturopathic doctors, herbalists, and alternative healthcare practitioners have long praised turmeric for its effectiveness. One recent study stated that “Modern medicine has begun to recognize its importance, as indicated by the over 3000 publications dealing with turmeric that came out within the last 25 years. This review first discusses in vitro studies with turmeric, followed by animal studies, and finally, studies carried out on humans; the safety and efficacy of turmeric are further addressed.”

Curcumin, the major component of turmeric, and the effects of turmeric are often attributed to curcuminoids (curcumin and closely related substances). The yellow color is from Curcumin. On the other hand, Curcuminoids are said to be the active compounds found in turmeric. While Curcumin is considered the primary curcuminoid in turmeric. Turmeric dietary supplements are primarily made from dried rhizome, which also typically contains a mixture of curcuminoids. Aside from taking Turmeric orally, it is also made into a paste for treating certain skin conditions.

roots curcumin on wooden plate

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Research suggests that curcumin can help in the management of many inflammatory conditions. Turmeric also aids in conditions such as arthritis, allergies, anxiety, digestive disorders, respiratory infections, liver disease, and many others.  It may also help in the management of muscle soreness and inflammation secondary to exercise, thus allowing shorter recovery and increased performance inactive people.

  • Arthritis: The active chemical in Turmeric, known as Curcumin, is said to block certain enzymes and cytokines that lead to inflammation.
  • Anxiety and Depression: People taking antidepressants have shown reduced symptoms when taking Curcumin found in Turmeric.
  • Allergies: Curcumin possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help with hypersensitivity reactions.
  • Burns, Skin Infection, and Abrasions: Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make it a great option for various skin conditions.
  • Digestive Disorders: Turmeric is recognized as an alternative therapy for heartburn, inflammation, and stomach ulcers.
  • Hay Fever:  Curcumin seems to reduce hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestion.
  • High Cholesterol: Studies on individuals with metabolic syndrome have shown that taking curcumin (found in turmeric) for 2-3 months can decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), or a type of “bad” cholesterol.
  • Itching: Taking turmeric by mouth three times daily for 8 weeks reduced itching in people with long-term kidney disease.
  • Liver Conditions: In those with liver disease not caused by alcohol, there was a reduction in the markers of liver injury. It helped in preventing the build-up of more fat in the liver in people with this condition.
  • Respiratory Infections: Curcumin attenuates lung injury and fibrosis caused by radiation, chemotherapeutic drugs, and toxicants. The growing amount of data from pharmacological and animal studies also supports the notion that curcumin plays a protective role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lung injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and allergic asthma, its therapeutic action being on the prevention or modulation of inflammation and oxidative stress. These findings give substance to the possibility of testing curcumin in patients with lung diseases.

All of these claims have been backed up with medical research, and studies.

Turmeric or Curcumin capsules

Turmeric as a Supplement

Turmeric has long been recognized for its uniqueness and medicinal properties. Curcumin has been credited for a wide variety of turmeric benefits. Curcumin is the key active ingredient in turmeric. As mentioned above, Turmeric has many health benefits, so you might want to consider taking turmeric as a dietary supplement. You should always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements as they can potentially interact with other medications.

Precautions and Interactions

Anticoagulant/ Antiplatelet Drugs. Taking Turmeric may slow down blood clotting. With that being said, you should be cautious taking turmeric if you are already taking medications such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others. These are medications that slow down blood clotting and when taken with Turmeric it can result in an increased likelihood of bruising and bleeding.

Gallstones/ Gallbladder Problems: Turmeric may increase bile secretion, thus it is not recommended for those with gallstones, bile duct obstruction, and cholangitis.

Iron Deficiency: As stated in a case report, Turmeric was associated with significant iron deficiency anemia, consistent with the binding of available iron in the gut and the prevention of absorption. With this, take caution in taking turmeric if you have an iron deficiency.

Surgery: Turmeric might slow blood clotting and cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using turmeric at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

supplement turmeric curcumin bottle

Foods with Curcumin

Turmeric: The natural source of curcumin.

Curry Powder: Curry powder blends use turmeric, which makes curry powder a good source of curcumin. You can always make homemade curry powder and include an extra dose of turmeric for added health benefits.

Mango Ginger: Also known as Curcuma Amada.

Turmeric curcumin powder

Also Note…

Turmeric products are available commercially in capsules, teas, powders, and extracts. It is important to take caution when deciding whether or not turmeric will benefit you personally. As with any alternative therapy, consult with your doctor prior to using turmeric to treat any health condition.

Many companies have gone to great lengths to develop curcumin products by increasing their bioavailability. According to MSD Manual, Bioavailability refers to the extent and rate at which the active moiety (drug or metabolite) enters systemic circulation, thereby accessing the site of action. Bioavailability of a drug is largely determined by the properties of the dosage form, which depends partly on its design and manufacture.

It is unfortunate that turmeric’s curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that you may not be able to easily maximize the health benefits Curcumin can provide. However, adding black pepper can help. Research supports that combining the piperine in black pepper with the curcumin in turmeric enhances curcumin absorption by up to 2,000%. Piperine is an alkaloid that has been shown to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin. Not only that, but it also helps fight inflammation and reduce pain. Thus, when curcumin and piperine are combined, they become a powerful inflammation-fighting team

Curcuma and black pepper corn

Do note, Turmeric may be unsafe for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. As of now, there is little known about whether turmeric is safe to use in amounts greater than those commonly found in food. Make sure to consult your doctor or health care providers to make an informed decision on whether Turmeric is right for you.

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