The health benefits of turmeric, a member of the ginger family, cannot be understated. This potent medicinal herb tops my charts of most beneficial and far-reaching plant medicinals – a must have for any herbal first aid kit or any long-term medical plan!
If you’re a lover of Asian or Indian Cuisine then you might already be familiar with turmeric, a common spice used in these colorful and delicious culinary traditions.
It’s one of the main ingredients in Curry powder; a flavorful spice blend with more to offer than simply a musky taste and beautiful shade of yellowish orange. Turmeric is widely grown in South East Asia and India, and lucky for me, in Pacific Islands including Hawaii where we call it olena. A couple of months ago I planted my first bunch of turmeric and I can’t wait to harvest it!
This potent spice has caught the attention of western researchers only fairly recently despite having a long reputation as a natural remedy for a wide variety of ailments in many traditional cultures. Now people are calling turmeric a ‘super-food’, ‘the spice of life’ and natures ‘ultimate healing herb’. It’s also becoming widely recognized as ‘one of natures best skin foods’.
Why does turmeric have so many health benefits? Most research keeps pointing back to one of the main active ingredients in turmeric called curcumin, a curcuminoid responsible for the yellow pigment color of turmeric. Curcumin has been identified as the agent responsible for most of the biological activity of turmeric, which according to Dr. Mercola has been shown to influence over 700 genes. This is yet another reason to eat all the colors of the rainbow! Read More:
Top 7 Health Benefits of Turmeric
The health benefits of turmeric are by no means limited to only 7 results – there are innumerable health benefits of turmeric, many we’re still probably not even aware of. And I wasn’t joking when I said that turmeric is great for a long term medical plan – high consumption of turmeric is linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s Disease in older age, has been shown to help prevent atherosclerosis, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and has been shown to help prevent several types of cancer.
According to one study, researchers stated: “Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, anti fungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses”. The following list of turmeric health benefits are just some of the reasons I love this powerful medicinal and healing food.
Health Benefit of Turmeric #1: Turmeric as Anti-Inflammatory
Turmeric is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory. Some research suggests that it works just as effectively as many anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals drugs, like hydrocortisone, used to reduce inflammatory pain associated to arthritis – minus the long list of side effects that many of those pharma drugs come with. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties make for an effective natural remedy for arthritic and rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation is nothing to scoff at – the inflammatory process is linked to many diseases including everything from heart attacks, diabetes, kidney failure to celiac disease as well as inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Health Benefit of Turmeric # 2: Turmeric Can Help Prevent Obesity
One study has shown that curcumin influences lipid (fat) metabolism. The researchers concluded:
“Our results clearly demonstrate that curcumin…displays remarkable potential health benefits for prevention of obesity and associated metabolic disorders.”
This may be because turmeric seems to increase bile production, enhancing the breakdown of fats during digestion.
Obesity is also linked to a chronic low-grade inflammatory response in the body that can lead to obesity-related chronic diseases like insulin resistance, type II diabetes and hyperglycemia. Turmerics potent anti-inflammatory properties may help to prevent these obesity related diseases as well.
Health Benefit of Turmeric # 3: Nature’s Skin Food
One of the best health benefits of turmeric is it’s super anti-oxidant properties that help fight the damaging effects of free radicals – especially those free radicals caused by chronic stress that lead to accelerated aging (which is usually expressed through your skin and face). This anti-oxidant support bodes extremely well for your skin – from the inside out as well as from the use of topical application. Turmeric helps support the prevention of wrinkles, as well as stretch marks and helps maintain skin elasticity. Given all the wonderful research that’s surfaced (what ancient cultures have known for thousands of years) turmeric is now more commonly used in the cosmetics industry. It can be used to even out pigmentation and also reduce the appearance of acne. Turmeric is known to support blood and liver functioning which helps to support healthy looking skin.
Health Benefit of Turmeric # 4: Wound Healing
This is one of the best reasons to keep turmeric in your natural first aid kit. It’s been shown to speed up wound healing and assists in healing damaged skin, as well as help a quick natural remedy to ease the pain of burns and prevent scarring. It’s also been shown to prevent bacterial infections, such as those caused by Staphylococcus (also known as Staph). You can simply chew on a piece of fresh turmeric and make a quick poultice to place on a wound or mix a little turmeric powder with water – either way is highly effective.
Health Benefit of Turmeric # 5: Turmeric Is a Natural Liver Detoxifier
Turmeric has been shown to help protect the liver from damage caused by alcohol, drugs and oxidative stress. Research suggests turmeric may improve liver function by increasing detoxification ability. Check out my Top 15 Tips to Support Optimal Liver Function.
Health Benefit of Turmeric # 6: Natural Blood Booster
If you’ve been feeling sluggish lately or have suffered from anemia, then consider adding turmeric to your diet on a daily basis. Only 1 tablespoon of dried turmeric powder offers about 30% of your daily requirement for iron.
Health Benefit of Turmeric # 7: Turmeric is a Powerful Anti-Viral
Did you know that roughly one out of every five people have herpes? If you have it, you’re not alone. Turmeric can help diminish it’s effects because of it’s powerful anti-viral properties which basically means it helps kill viruses. Turmeric has been used as a natural antibiotic in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.
This is also linked to it’s high anti-oxidant properties that help fight free radicals which also helps boost the immune system and prevent illness from infections.
Turmeric & Contraindications
Please consult with a medical doctor before upping your consumption of turmeric if you have gallstones or bile obstruction, or if you’re pregnant (because it can be a uterin stimulant)
Where to buy It and How to consume it?
Many people take turmeric or curcumin in pill form – I don’t recommend this as a first option. Anything in a pill is no longer a whole food. Why not just buy it fresh and use it in your cooking or raw food dishes? Just as it’s important to eat whole, organic unprocessed foods, we should apply this same logic with herbs and spices. I highly recommend that you buy herbs and spices 100% organically grown – all the same logic still applies here. Like I always say: Fresh is Best! But when you can’t find access to fresh turmeric, I recommend dried, organic turmeric powder, to use freely in your cooking. I love my favorite Sunrise Sorbet Smoothie that I add a chunk of turmeric in, on a regular basis.
If you want to experience the magic of eating fresh, real, whole organic foods, check out our Raw Food Hawaii Retreats.
Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,
Laura Dawn, Author of “Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food” and “Mindful Eating for Dummies“