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Turmeric: India’s Super Herb!

Turmeric, locally known as ‘haldi’ or ‘manja’, is intrinsic to India and today, modern medicine is discovering its many benefits

The origins of the use of turmeric date back to the Vedic Age. That familiar warm, spicy fragrance and dazzling golden orange root is well known to Indians among whom the daily consumption averages 1–2 grams per head!

As the ‘Queen of Spices’, turmeric is a symbol of prosperity, fertility and purity. This root plant has been used as a culinary spice, herbal medicine and fabric dye for millennia.

Native to south west India, its medicinal prowess has been long recognized in South Asia, and its importance in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine remains unparalleled for more than 4,000 years. Not surprisingly, modern medicine’s tryst with this natural healer is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

shutterstock_444642196Composition

Turmeric is made up of bio-active elements that lend it medicinal value. Curcumin, an extract of turmeric (2%-5% of weight), is used in treatment. The unbeatable medical advantage it holds is that there are, literally, no side effects to its use.

The unique healing benefits of curcumin not only match that of pharmaceutical medicine, (in certain cases) it has been recognized as more beneficial than prescription drugs.

Turmeric is packed with a range of minerals, nutrients and vitamins namely Vitamin C, E, & K, dietary fiber, potassium, niacin, calcium, iron, copper, zinc and magnesium.

Properties of Turmeric

  • Anti-oxidant – neutralizes free radicals and stimulates the body’s natural antioxidants
  • Anti-coagulant
  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent
  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Anti-inflammatory – lingering low-level inflammation is a noted cause for Western diseases. Turmeric’s ability to prevent and reverse disease is attributed to this property
  • Anti-mutagenic
  • Antiseptic and disinfectant
  • Enhances cell signaling and cell cycle mechanisms
  • Pain relief (activates the opioid system, our body’s in-built pain reliever)
  • Regulates blood sugar and blood fat levels
  • Immuno-regulation
  • Stimulates detoxification
  • Weight management (assists in the breakdown dietary fat)
  • Lowers risk of brain disease, effective in delaying age-related limitations
  • Reduces tumor size and kills cancer cells

shutterstock_310573730Uses of Turmeric in Modern Medicine

Over 6,000 research papers have investigated, proven and fully acknowledged the wide-ranging health benefits of turmeric. Modern medicine is harnessing this potential to supplement the treatment of:

  1. Heart disease, bypass surgery, high cholesterol
  2. Cancer and chemotherapy (prostrate, pancreas, mouth, tongue, colon, cervix and breast)
  3. Metabolic syndrome, heartburn
  4. Alzheimer’s and other degenerative conditions (aids removal of plaque buildup, improves oxygen flow)
  5. Arthritis
  6. Hemorrhage
  7. Diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  8. Jaundice, liver problems, gall bladder disorders (as a natural detoxifier, it purifies blood by stimulating vital enzymes)
  9. Urinary bladder inflammation, kidney problems
  10. Skin conditions, inflammation from radiation, itchiness
  11. Acne, sores, leech bite
  12. Fever and fatigue
  13. Bronchitis, colds, lung infections, tuberculosis
  14. Fibromyalgia
  15. Leprosy
  16. Menstrual irregularities
  17. Post-surgery recovery
  18. Mild depression (it boosts neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine)
  19. Water retention
  20. Auto-immune disease
  21. Ringworm
  22. Sprain and swelling
  23. Increases the effect of diabetes medication
  24. Healing wounds and related infection
  25. Acne, skin sores, leech bites
  26. Gum disease.

shutterstock_370125110Tips for Consumption

One study revealed the role of stress in altering turmeric’s health benefits when it observed that lowered blood triglycerides levels (after consuming turmeric) were received only when the subject remained relaxed.

As we don’t easily absorb curcumin, consuming it with other spices helps. Its effects are best felt when it is had with pepper, as the latter enhances curcumin absorption by 2,000%.

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An ambidextrous thinker, I am nourished by the arts and activism. Passion keeps me on my feet, moving, and living as (comfortably) close to the edge as is possible. From performing gypsy street theater to organizing music festivals, creative activism to travel writing, wildlife exploration and more recently developing an all-India module to teach snake safety – I have evolved with every experience. I believe, fully, in the power of the pen and pursue writing that shapes perspective and builds awareness on essential issues (that we can directly effect, and are directly affected by). I also believe, fully, that precise punctuation, good grammar, (un)avoidable alliterations and a bulletproof humor go a long way. I travel to stay sane, stalk birds in their natural habitat for fun, carefully avoid routine and have been known to burst into song, in good rhyme but for no reason. I am a dreamer and a do-er, a poet and a planner. Writing is the only way I know to understand.