Within the spectra of the medicinal plants, a few plants possess such a wide range of therapeutic and medicinal properties and qualities as the turmeric plant. Dating back to nearly 4000 years, Turmeric has long been used to treat a myriad of ailments and diseases in the Southeast Asia. Not only is it a principal spice in this region, but also a significant component in various religious ceremonies. Turmeric belongs to the Curcuma longa species, a rhizomatous perennial herb belonging to the ginger family.
Composition of the Turmeric
There are more than hundred components of the turmeric. However, the main components are the volatile oils containing turmerone and the curcuminoids, which have been proven to be natural antioxidants. Nutritional analysis of Turmeric shows that 100 g of turmeric has 10 g total fat, 390 kcal, 21 g dietary fiber, 3 g saturated fat, 0.2 g calcium, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 0.26 g phosphorous, 47.5 mg iron, 2500 mg potassium, 0.19 mg riboflavin, 4.8 mg niacin, 0.9 mg thiamine, 50 mg ascorbic acid, 69.9 g total carbohydrates, 8 g protein and 3 g sugars (Balakrishnan 2007). Turmeric is also an excellent source of the omega three fatty acids and linoleic acid (Goud, Polasa, and Krishnaswamy 1993).
Modern studies prove that turmeric can be used in the treatment of the ailments such as cancer, arthritis, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple sclerosis, Bowel syndromes, inflammations, and liver diseases Scientifically, there are at least 12 molecules in turmeric that are anti-inflammatory,20 that are anti-biotic,12 that are antitumor and at least a further ten that are classified as anti-oxidants. But most research has been on the powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the curcumin, a major molecular substance found in the roots of the turmeric herb. Its healing properties are attributed to potent anti-inflammatory actions by fighting free radicals by stimulating the human body to produce anti-oxidant enzymes thus neutralizing the free radicals (Thomas-Eapen, N. E., 2009).
Turmeric is the most efficient existing nutritional constituent due to its excellent and unparalleled benefits for the brain and the body as it solely used in the treatments of a wide range of ailments and diseases. Based on the findings of the ethnobotanist, James Duke, turmeric actually outperforms and outdoes most pharmaceuticals in its effectiveness in the treatment of chronic diseases.
Turmeric as a Powerful Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Its potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties are the most researched and well known medical action of the turmeric. Curcumin being the bioactive substance in the turmeric fights inflammations that occur at the molecular levels, posing as a strong and effective analgesia, anti-mutagenic, anti-tumor, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-allergic, stimulant, diuretic, carminative and digestive.
Curcumin also blocks the Nuclear Factor Beta molecules, a major causative agent of chronic diseases which causes inflammations and damage of the cells. Hence, it helps our bodies fight against foreigners and repairing of the existing cell damages.
In addition to that, the above properties prevent and treat the neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Diseases, and the Alzheimer’s diseases. Based on the Alzheimer’s Society, Curcumin breaks down the amyloid-beta plague which mostly is the disease hallmark.
Turmeric and the Brain Function
Curcumin also boosts the neurotropic brain-derived factor that is primarily linked to improved brain functions. This is because it increases the levels of the Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor, a growth hormone that plays a crucial role on the brain functions, thus making turmeric an excellent compound in reversing or delaying age-related and brain diseases in the human brain. Ultimately it helps reduce the Alzheimer’s disease that is more prevalent in the old age.
For instance Depression, a condition often caused by reduced and shrinking hippocampus and BDNF levels has been treated with curcumin, thus proving that turmeric is an effective antidepressant.
Besides that, a new study done by Verma, Suruchi, and Vikas Kumar reveals that ar-turmerone, a component of the turmeric significantly increases brain stem cell production by over 50%.The ar-turmerone provides neuroprotection against the oxidative stress hence an efficient remedy for any neurological disease.
Turmeric and the Body Immunity
Curcumin also boosts the overall body immunity. According to Funk, J.L et al. curcumin is eight times stronger than Vitamin E and C. It’s proven beneficial significance in the treatments of allergies, asthma, and arthritis, heart diseases, atherosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer is attributed to its modulation of the immune system. Curcumin regulates most inflammatory transcriptions factors such as the Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta, enzymes and cytokines such as the tumors necrosis factors which are all responsible for hindering the development of various ailments.
Turmeric and Diabetes
Curcumin also prevents the development of diabetes especially in people who have pre-diabetes (Arun, N., & Nalini, N. 2002). A study carried out in Thai and published by the Diabetes Care Journals found out that person who had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and took curcumin capsules did not develop type 2 diabetes as compared to those who didn’t take the curcumin capsules. Drew Tortoriello, a research scientist at the Columbia Medical Center, argues that turmeric reduces and lessens the resistance of insulin, thus preventing the development of the type 2 diabetes.
Turmeric and Obesity
Turmeric also helps reduce the obesity-related illness and promotes weight loss. Macrophages immune cells that are present in the fat tissues throughout the human body is responsible for all the inflammations linked to obesity. Macrophages produce cytokines which cause inflammations in various body organs such as the pancreases, the liver, and heart while also increasing the resistance of the insulin. According to Gupta, S. C. et al. (2013), turmeric suppresses and reduces the number of macrophages in the fat tissues thus reduces the adverse effects and consequences of overweight and obesity.
Turmeric and the Heart
Turmeric prevents heart diseases by improving the endothelium functions and the blood vessels linings. Endothelial dysfunctions are the leading causes of various heart diseases such as blood pressures and clotting of the blood. Due to its inflammatory properties, curcumin in turmeric exhibits a diverse range of cardioprotective functions such as inhibition of the oxidation of the low-density lipoproteins, thrombosis, blocking of the homocysteine-induced and formation of the aortic fatty streaks endothelial dysfunctions. For instance, curcumin protects the myocardium and the heart by suppressing the pathways which generate reactive oxygen species and causes lipid peroxidization thus regulating all the paths which help to detoxify the free radicals. Recent studies and research also suggest that curcumin in the turmeric can lessen vascular inflammations and prevent strokes.
Turmeric and Cancer
Turmeric can also be a beneficial herb in the treatment of cancer due to its curcumin components. The antioxidant kills and suppresses the cancer cell cultures from the bloodstreams, cells, and skins. Studies done by Walston J. reveal that it significantly reduces metastasis (cancer spreads) and angiogenesis (tumor growths in the blood vessels and cells).This is because they inhibit metabolisms of carcinogens and metastasis by modulating the inflammatory cytokine levels which helps control proliferation, apoptosis, and angiogenesis.
Dosage and Caution:
400mg of Turmeric can be taken two times a day. However, it is recommended to take it with black pepper as its component; piperine helps in the absorption of the curcumin in the turmeric. Ginger is also an excellent turmeric companion.
People with bile duct obstruction and gallstones should not take turmeric without the instructions of the physician. Excessive consumptions of turmeric can cause ulcers or reduce the total number of the white and the red blood cells.
You should buy turmeric from a reputable seller to avoid cases of toxic turmeric species.
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