The medicinal part of turmeric comes
from the fleshy underground rhizomes of a perennial plant from the same
family as ginger with large lily-like leaves that can grow to about 3 feet
high. The rhizomes are harvested in winter, boiled or steamed, and then
dried. Most turmeric is available as a powder.
Turmeric not only enhances the flavour of food but also aids
digestion, particularly of protein, promotes absorption and regulates
metabolism. It is an excellent spice to add to cooking if concerned about
weight. Turmeric helps to regulate intestinal flora and is well worth taking
during and after a course of antibiotics and by those suffering from Candida or
thrush. It has a long history of use for eradicating worms. It is said to lower
blood sugar in diabetics.
Turmeric has beneficial effects in the liver, which include stimulating the flow
of bile, protecting against damage from toxins and improving the metabolism of
fats. By enhancing liver function, turmeric helps to cleanse the blood of toxins
and impurities. It has been shown to lower harmful cholesterol levels, to
inhibit blood clotting by blocking prostaglandin production and to help prevent
as well as remedy atherosclerosis, thus playing a significant role in the
prevention of heart and arterial disease.
Turmeric contains constituents including curcumin, tumerone and zingiberone as
well as high amounts of a carotene, equivalent to 50 IU of vitamin A per 100
grams. Probably the most important component is curcumin which gives turmeric
its intense yellow colour. Curcumin is a powerful, yet safe anti-inflammatory
agent, excellent for treating inflammatory problem such as arthritis, liver and
gall bladder problems. It has been found to block the production of certain
prostaglandins and to have effects on a par with cortisone and non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.4,5 I have observed that
taking turmeric daily has an excellent anti-inflammatory effect, improving
morning stiffness, joint swelling and pain with movement experienced by
rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
Turmeric has powerful antioxidant properties, and is reported to
protect against the development of cancer, and has a long history of use in the
treatment of various cancers; enhancing the production of cancer-fighting cells
protecting against environmental toxins, with an immune-enhancing effect and
powerful antibacterial properties. In China it is used to treat the early stages
of cervical cancer. An alcohol extract of turmeric applied externally in skin
cancer has been shown to reduce itching, relieve pain and promote healing. In
fact turmeric has been found to be highly effective at inhibiting recurring
melanoma in people at high risk. Research has also demonstrated its protective
effects against colon and breast cancer.
To treat infections and digestive problems the powder can be added to herbal
teas, stirred into honey or hot water. The usual daily dose of turmeric is ¼-½
(one quarter to one half) a teaspoon of the powder two to three times daily
between meals. Alternatively you can take two or three cupfuls of the tea
between meals. To make the tea, place ½ (one half) a teaspoon of powder in a
small pot, pour over a cup of boiling water, leave to infuse for five minutes,
then strain. You can add ginger or cardamom to add more flavour. Curcumin can be
taken in capsules as a supplement, at a dose of 250-500 mg three times daily.
Combining curcumin with bromelain may enhance its absorption and activity.
According to Dr Vinick "It is a spice that is also extremely useful for eliminating free radical damage that can happen as result of excess sugar levels in the body. So, it's a supportive nutrient." According to a study published in PubMed.gov "Administration of turmeric or curcumin to diabetic rats reduced the blood sugar, Hb and glycosylated hemoglobin levels significantly. Turmeric and curcumin supplementation also reduced the oxidative stress encountered by the diabetic rats."