The fuss about turmeric

Waikato News - - HEALTH - John Arts

Cur­cumin ex­tracted from turmeric is prob­a­bly the most stud­ied of all nat­u­ral com­pounds. There are re­search pa­pers that cover ev­ery­thing from its an­tiantiox­i­dant ca­pac­ity, that it helps our can­cer de­fences, can help pro­tect brain cells against age re­lated prob­lems, neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive prob­lems and many more. Most re­search, how­ever, is fo­cused on its an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory ca­pac­ity.

Al­most ev­ery chronic dis­ease either causes or re­sults in in­flam­ma­tion. While the in­flam­ma­tory process is es­sen­tial for heal­ing it can cause new prob­lems or worsen ex­ist­ing prob­lems.

Just think about this for a mo­ment. Heart dis­ease is in­flam­ma­tion of blood ves­sels lead­ing to plaques. In­flam­ma­tion is part of how can­cer cells spread. All au­toim­mune dis­ease is in­flam­ma­tory. Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, in­clud­ing de­men­tiare­lated con­di­tions, are in­flam­ma­tory.

All res­pi­ra­tory and al­ler­gic con­di­tions are in­flam­ma­tory. Most skin prob­lems are caused or wors­ened by in­flam­ma­tion and os­teoarthri­tis is of course in­flam­ma­tory.

This is of course why most med­i­cal treat­ments for these con­di­tions cen­tre around re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion with ev­ery­thing from hum­ble as­pirin through to pow­er­ful steroids.

Part of the prob­lem though is that some peo­ple can­not tol­er­ate med­i­ca­tions or else these can­not be used long-term or in some cases in­crease the risk of other health prob­lems.

For ex­am­ple, I have a client who had bat­tled ten­nis el­bow for some time. While med­i­ca­tions pro­vided tem­po­rary re­lief he de­cided to add my Cur­cumin and OPC along­side Omega 3 fish oil and an anti-in­flam­ma­tory diet.

Af­ter a few months he re­ported that his el­bow was much bet­ter. This should not sur­prise as mul­ti­ple stud­ies and re­search show that cur­cumin helps to nor­malise sev­eral in­flam­ma­tory pro­cesses es­pe­cially in­flam­ma­tory cy­tokine and prostaglandin pro­duc­tion.

Cur­cumin acts as an im­mune sys­tem con­duc­tor restor­ing nat­u­ral im­mune balance.

It is dif­fi­cult to think of any chronic dis­ease that is not either caused or wors­ened by in­flam­ma­tion. To­day we are go­ing to look more closely at the in­flam­ma­tory process and how diet and sup­ple­ments can help cre­ate nor­mal in­flam­ma­tory balance.

The pur­pose of in­flam­ma­tion is to help re­store tis­sue that is af­fected by in­fec­tion, trauma or dis­ease. Think of this like a play­ground see-saw. On one end we have forces that cause in­flam­ma­tion while on the other the forces that re­duce it. When this del­i­cate balance goes wrong it can lead to chronic in­flam­ma­tion which will worsen ex­ist­ing prob­lems and even cause new prob­lems.

All in­flam­ma­tion comes di­rectly or in­di­rectly from our im­mune sys­tem. It is our white blood cells that gov­ern in­flam­ma­tion. This process is di­rectly re­lated to diet and in par­tic­u­lar fats and a vast ar­range of bi­o­log­i­cally ac­tive an­tiox­i­dants.

The chem­istry of all this is very com­plex but there are some sim­ple facts. Fats in our diet have huge in­flu­ence over in­flam­ma­tion. Omega 6 oils and some an­i­mal fats tend to push our bod­ies to­wards in­flam­ma­tion. Omega 3 and some other plant oil tend to have an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory ben­e­fits.

Two of the most bi­o­log­i­cally ac­tive anti-in­flam­ma­tory com­pounds are cur­cumin from turmeric and OPC from grape seed ex­tract. These firstly help block an un­wanted in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse and sec­ondly help pro­duce an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory ef­fect on in­flamed tis­sue. Com­bin­ing these two po­tent ex­tracts can calm stressed tis­sue and bring wel­come re­lief.

I was speak­ing with some­one re­cently who had been af­fected by long-term in­flam­ma­tion in his spine. Adding high doses of Cur­cumin and OPC has re­sulted in his back be­ing much more com­fort­able and as a bonus his swollen fin­gers are much bet­ter.

■ John Arts (B Soc Sci, Dip Tch, Adv Dip Nut Med) is a nu­tri­tional medicine prac­ti­tioner and founder of Abun­dant Health Ltd. For ques­tions or ad­vice con­tact John on 0800 423559 or email john@abun­dant.co.nz. Join his news­let­ter at www.abun­dant.co.nz

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