The yellow color of that Indian curry is actually due to an important ingredient, turmeric. This root spice is not just added to food because of how it tastes, but it is also popular because of its medicinal benefits. While it is not part of traditional Australian cuisine, thanks to the increasing number of Asian restaurants and supermarkets, more and more Australians are finding out the secrets of this healthy spice.
Medicine and Turmeric
Turmeric is known by its scientific name curcuma longa, and has been used medicinally for thousands of years, way before modern medicine began. This spice is used extensively in Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine, because of its long list of benefits.
These advantages are being slowly validated by present-day scientists. Over the years, thousands of studies have been made on curcumin, turmeric’s active ingredient. Curcumin is just one of the more than 300 curcuminoids, bioactive components that bring the body tons of good.
Turmeric as Anti-Inflammation
One of the well-known advantages of curcumin is its anti-inflammatory trait. When someone has some tissue or cell damage because of injury, virus or other pollutants, the body reacts with inflammation. While this might get many people worried, inflammation is a natural response of the body in order to get rid of the cause of this damage and promote healing.
Moreover, inflammation is implicated in almost all chronic illnesses, from heart disease, brain degenerative conditions, and even diabetes. Short-term, it is not dangerous to the body but after a long time, this can lead to worse conditions. For example, it may lead to atherosclerosis, which is one of the earliest signs of heart disease. Inflammation may also trigger thrombosis, strokes and heart attacks.
Unfortunately, chronic inflammation also plays a huge role in the formation and progression of cancer. Inflammatory cells are active in the environment that is conducive to cancer cells.
Curcumin has been used as anti-inflammation treatment in Ayurvedic medicine. Recently, however, scientific studies have also proven that it is successful in the fight against inflammation through blocking the process itself. Moreover, curcumin brings these benefits without any side effects, unlike most drugs in the market.
Turmeric in the Fight Against Free Radicals
Free radicals damage the cells of the body, which makes the risk of developing more serious diseases like Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Moreover, it is attributed to hastening the aging process.
Turmeric’s curcuminoid antioxidants lessen free radical damage and neutralize them. It is also proven to enhance the body’s natural antioxidants like catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD).
Protection Against Cancer
Research has shown that turmeric is effective in preventing and treating cancer. Curcumin is able to block the growth of tumor cells through switching off the mechanisms that help them uncontrollably grow. It is believed that it interferes with the pathways cells use to signal each other like metastasis, cell cycle, proliferation, apoptosis, and others.
Specifically, curcumin is said to be good against lymphomas, sarcomas, leukemia, melanomas, and other cancers like breast, ovarian, lung, and gastrointestinal cancer. The best part is, it does this without damaging healthy cells. When combined with chemotherapy, cancer cell destruction is enhanced.
The list of benefits of turmeric does not end here. First of all, it is good for the stomach because it keeps gut flora that will provide protection against stomach problems.
Turmeric is also a natural antiseptic, which means it is a good choice to disinfect any wounds, cuts, or other skin problems.
The liver loves the detoxifying properties of turmeric. Curcumin increases bile flow and therefore, improves the breakdown of dietary fat while digesting. It is also very advantageous for diabetes patients because it contributes to blood sugar regulation.
The anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties of turmeric show why it is used in arthritis and pain treatment. It is also beneficial in the treatment of sore throat, tonsillitis, asthma, cough, swollen gums, upper respiratory congestion, and canker sores.
Even though scientific testing did not exist thousands of years ago, this does not mean that traditional spices like turmeric are not effective in treating specific conditions. Fortunately, research is now proving these benefits and therefore, natural treatment methods are available without the harmful side effects of medication.