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Turmeric - More Than Culinary

Saturday, September 4th 2004

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a herb which has long been a staple of Indian cuisine. Without it, Indian curries would lack their distinctive flavour and characteristic yellow colour. Turmeric has also been a staple of Ayurvedic (Traditional Indian) and Chinese systems of medicine. The active constituent in Turmeric is curcumin which has been shown to have a wide range of antioxidant and therapeutic actions.

What does this powerful antioxidant do?

Oxidation can be compared to rust on an automobile, while an antioxidant is the paint that protects the vehicle from rust damage. In the body, oxidation causes free radicals to form and free radicals damage cells and form toxic cells which can lead to disease. Many researchers attribute much of the ageing process to the incessant damage caused by free radicals and the subsequent decline in the body's ability to effectively regenerate damaged cells. Antioxidant nutrients protect cells from free-radical damage. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is one of those powerful, antioxidant herbs.

Anti-inflammatory for pain and arthritis

Turmeric reduces inflammation by lowering histamine levels and possibly by increasing production of natural cortisone by the adrenal glands. In human studies Turmeric has been found to equal and in many cases exceed, the benefits associated with both cortisone and phenylbutazone treatment. Additionally, clinical trials of persons suffering from rheumatoid arthritis showed a significant improvement after six weeks at a dosage of 1200mg per day. It may also benefit people with osteoarthritis. Turmeric has been shown to reduce pain in post-herpetic neuralgia and arthritis, as it blocks the formation of Substance P, a neurotransmitter of pain.

Cardiovascular help

Other studies have focused on Turmeric's benefits to the cardiovascular system. It has been shown to reduce blood platelets clumping together, which in turn improves circulation and helps prevent atherosclerosis. Turmeric appears to lower cholesterol. It may also help defend against blood clots that trigger heart attacks and some strokes.

Digestion and fact absorption

Researchers showed Turmeric protects the liver from a number of toxic compounds and enhances gall bladder function. They concluded that one of Turmeric's medicinal effects is to induce contraction of the gall bladder, helping it to expel beneficial bile into the duodenum (small intestine), activating certain enzymes, aiding metabolism of fats and the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D and K. Studies have also found Turmeric to be helpful for people with indigestion.

Boost for the immune system

Preliminary studies indicate Turmeric could be useful to AIDS patients. Specifically, it may reduce the HIV viral load. In fact, curcumin appears to be active against acutely and chronically HIV-infected cells. In contrast, AZT is apparently ineffective in this area.

According to researchers at Leicester University, Turmeric may stop cancer tumours forming. Curcumin, the active ingredient is thought to interfere with certain enzymes that help trigger uncontrolled cell division.

Turmeric is available as Nature's Way Standardized Turmeric capsules (purple label) which is a highly concentrated 50:1 extract (50 kg makes 1 kg of extract) standardised to 95% curcumoids. Turmeric with its multi-faceted action is certainly worth thorough consideration for inclusion into a daily supplement routine.

Rasyid A, Lelo A, Ailment Pharmacol 1999, 13: 245-9, HealthNotes 1999, J of Ethnopharmacology Vol 47, 1995, VRP May/June 1996, Health Counsellor, Vol 9, No. 2, The Dominion, Feb 2000

Reproduced unabridged from the July - September 2004 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for Joint problems:

Devils Claw Secondary Root
Deer Velvet
Go Glucosamine 1-A-Day
Quercetin Complex
Hi Strength Liquid Fish Oil
Joint and Muscle Repair Cream
Joint Vitality
Joint Connection
Super Collagen + C
Pain Relief

Related health information can be found here:

Arthritis Program
Arthritis & Rheumatism
Multi-Power the energy pack
Skin Health
Water, the Elixir of Life

Related articles can be found here:

Arthritis studies focus on Boswellia
Benefits of MSM for Injuries and Skin
Boswellia - rediscovering a powerful anti-inflammatory herb
Efamarine - Help for Joint Mobility and the Maintenance of Immunity
Landmark Clinical Trial: Great News for Arthritis Sufferers
Osteoarthritis is Repairable
Third Generation Arthritis Treatment - Radiance Joint Connection Capsules and Creme

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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