10 Benefi ts of Turmeric and Cur­cumin

The pop­u­lar curry spice and its ac­tive in­gre­di­ent ( cur­cumin) off er a wide ar­ray of uses for health and well­ness

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - /// BY VERA TWEED

From im­proved mem­ory to health­ier skin, this ver­sa­tile herb does it all.

The spice that gives curry and mus­tard their bright yel­low col­ors, turmeric has be­come a lead­ing herbal in­gre­di­ent in sup­ple­ments, drinks, and foods be­cause it prom­ises a mind­bog­gling ar­ray of health benefi ts. And the ev­i­dence from stud­ies, with turmeric or its bioac­tive ex­tract, cur­cumin, con­tin­ues to grow. Al­though the way the herb works is not fully un­der­stood, it’s known to be an anti- infl am­ma­tory and an­tiox­i­dant, re­duc­ing risk for some can­cers and en­hanc­ing many as­pects of health. Here are a few of its doc­u­mented uses:

Im­proved Mem­ory. For years, it’s been sug­gested that eat­ing lots of turmeric is a rea­son why se­niors in In­dia have much lower rates of Alzheimer’s than Amer­i­cans. Now, a study at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Los Angeles may help to ex­plain the link. Among 40 peo­ple ages 50– 90, those who took a cur­cumin sup­ple­ment daily im­proved their mem­ory, ac­cord­ing to stan­dard tests, by 28 per­cent af­ter 18 months.

➋ A Stronger Heart. A re­view of stud­ies with a to­tal of 649 pa­tients, pub­lished in Nutri­tion Jour­nal, found that both turmeric and cur­cumin sup­ple­ments could en­hance heart health by re­duc­ing LDL (“bad”) choles­terol and

low­er­ing triglyc­erides among peo­ple at risk for heart dis­ease. Lev­els of “good” HDL choles­terol did not change. In ear­lier animal re­search, cur­cumin some­what re­versed en­larged hearts, re­duced scar tis­sue, and im­proved heart func­tion.

➌ Health­ier Skin. Treat­ing burns and scalds with a topi­cal cur­cumin gel en­hanced heal­ing, re­duced pain and infl am­ma­tion, and re­sulted in less or no scar­ring, in a study at the David Geff en School of Medicine in Los Angeles. In animal re­search, both topi­cal and oral cur­cumin shows a pro­tec­tive eff ect against the most com­mon form of skin cancer, squa­mous cell car­ci­noma. Many skincare prod­ucts con­tain turmeric or cur­cumin to treat blem­ishes and soothe ir­ri­ta­tion. The herb is also taken as a ther­apy for eczema and pso­ri­a­sis by nat­u­ral prac­ti­tion­ers.

➍ Bet­ter Di­ges­tion. Turmeric is a tra­di­tional rem­edy for in­di­ges­tion, and stud­ies have found it can help heal or pre­vent di­ges­tive dis­or­ders. Bri­tish re­searchers found that a turmeric ex­tract, taken daily for eight weeks, re­duced symp­toms of ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome. In Ja­pan, adding cur­cumin to pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions for ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis im­proved re­sults. Adding turmeric to food can also re­duce risk for bac­te­rial stom­ach in­fec­tions.

➎ Less Dry Eye. A re­view of animal, lab, and hu­man re­search, pub­lished in the jour­nal Planta Med­ica, found that tak­ing cur­cumin sup­ple­ments for a few weeks can help re­lieve dis­com­fort from dry eye and other eye con­di­tions, such as al­ler­gic con­junc­tivi­tis, an­te­rior uveitis, glau­coma, mac­u­lopa­thy, and is­chemic and di­a­betic retinopa­thy. Re­searchers found that ex­tracts de­signed to im­prove ab­sorp­tion, such as BCM95 and Meriva, were some eff ec­tive forms of cur­cumin sup­ple­ments.

➏ Sea­sonal Al­lergy Re­lief. A study of 241 peo­ple with sea­sonal al­ler­gies, pub­lished in the An­nals of Al­lergy, Asthma & Im­munol­ogy, found that cur­cumin sig­nifi cantly re­duced symp­toms, when com­pared to a placebo. Taken daily for two months, the sup­ple­ment re­duced sneez­ing, mu­cus, and nasal con­ges­tion, and im­proved breath­ing.

7 Health­ier Ar­ter­ies. With age, the abil­ity of ar­ter­ies to di­late de­te­ri­o­rates, in­creas­ing the odds of high blood pres­sure. A Ja­panese study of post­menopausal women, pub­lished in Nutri­tion Re­search, found that tak­ing a daily cur­cumin sup­ple­ment for eight weeks was as eff ec­tive as do­ing aer­o­bic ex­er­cise, in terms of im­prov­ing di­la­tion of ar­ter­ies.

8 Less Di­a­betes. A study pub­lished in Di­a­betes Care found that cur­cumin sup­ple­ments, taken daily for nine months, eff ec­tively pre­vented di­a­betes from de­vel­op­ing among peo­ple who were al­ready at high risk for the dis­ease. In a group of 240 peo­ple di­ag­nosed with pre­di­a­betes, none of those tak­ing cur­cumin de­vel­oped di­a­betes, com­pared to 16 per­cent of those tak­ing a placebo. Cur­cumin re­duced infl am­ma­tion and im­proved the body’s abil­ity to use in­sulin, which im­proves lev­els of blood su­gar and keeps di­a­betes at bay.

9 Bet­ter Liver Func­tion. Non­al­co­holic fatty liver dis­ease is linked to ex­cess body fat and de­vel­ops among 50– 90 per­cent of those who are obese. A study of 87 peo­ple with the dis­ease, pub­lished in Drug Re­search, found that liver health im­proved for 75 per­cent of those who took daily cur­cumin sup­ple­ments for eight weeks. Among those tak­ing a placebo, im­prove­ment was seen in fi ve per­cent.

10 Arthri­tis Pain Re­lief. Stud­ies with nearly 800 peo­ple have found that cur­cumin re­lieves pain from os­teoarthri­tis, some­times just as well as ibupro- fen. And those with rheuma­toid arthri­tis can also benefi t. A study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Medic­i­nal Food found that tak­ing a cur­cumin sup­ple­ment for three months re­duced pain, infl am­ma­tion, and med­i­cal mark­ers of rheuma­toid arthri­tis.

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