Turmeric is one of the most effective natural supplements used in traditional medicine. But, do you know what makes it as effective? In this report, we’ll take a closer look at all the science-based health benefits of turmeric and the substance responsible for its potency.
What is Turmeric and What Makes It So Effective?
Turmeric is among the key ingredients used in the ancient Indian medical system Ayurveda. This spice from the ginger family has various uses in Chinese traditional medicine as well.
In these ancient medical systems, turmeric is often used for ailments affecting the digestive system and respiratory tract. It is also applied topically for joint pain relief. Nowadays, it serves as the main ingredient for many dietary supplements recommended for the relief of anything from arthritis to liver disease, and even depression.
Now, where does curcumin come into play? Curcumin is turmeric’s main active component. It gives turmeric its distinct yellow color and spice. As a natural antioxidant, curcumin is thought to be the source of turmeric’s health benefits.
Curcumin offers anti-inflammatory benefits. It is also being studied for its potential to slow down the aging process of cells and help prevent the development of degenerative diseases.
Some tests have discovered how curcumin can potentially help stop the growth of certain tumors and cancers. Preliminary studies also suggest that curcumin can be beneficial against some chronic diseases and viral infections.
Evidence-Based Benefits of Turmeric Curcumin
The ultimate potential of turmeric and its component curcumin is yet to be uncovered. However, there are already several evidence-based benefits linked to this yellow spice.
- Turmeric prevents inflammation.
Acute inflammation is the body’s natural reaction against foreign invaders and it plays an important role in repairing damage to cells. On the contrary, chronic inflammation is dangerous. The presence of constant inflammation means that your immune system attacks your body’s healthy tissues.
Inflammation is seen as one of the crucial factors behind most chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, and degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin in turmeric is thought to be as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs, sans the side effects. It can block NF-kB, the molecule that triggers inflammation.
- Turmeric boosts the body’s antioxidant capacity.
Oxidative damage occurs when free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules not paired with electrons, pair with essential substances in the body such as proteins and fatty acids. The organic substances the free radicals attach to then get damaged. Because of this, oxidative damage is seen as the culprit in premature aging and the development of many diseases.
Antioxidants such as curcumin prevent oxidative damage from occurring. Curcumin neutralizes free radicals, thanks to its natural chemical structure. It also boosts the potency of the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes.
- Turmeric aids in good brain function.
Neurons, the cells in the nervous system that transmits information from one nerve cell to the next, can divide, multiply, and make new connections. One of the drivers behind this process is the growth hormone known as the brain-derived neuropathic factor (BDNF). When this hormone depletes in number, neurons lose their ability to divide, multiply, and connect. This results in the development of mental conditions such as memory loss, depression, and Alzheimer’s.
Curcumin can help increase BDNF levels. This is why taking turmeric supplements with concentrated curcumin extracts can aid in improving memory and protect against degenerative brain diseases.
- Turmeric helps treat arthritis pain naturally.
Arthritis is a widespread concern. It comes in different types, all of which are linked to inflammation. Many arthritis patients only find relief from over-the-counter pain relievers.
As curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, its efficacy in arthritis relief is supported by research. One study even showed that curcumin proved more effective for people with rheumatoid arthritis than a certain anti-inflammatory drug.
- Turmeric improves heart health.
Cardiovascular diseases are among the top causes of death in the world. Curcumin can improve the function of the lining of blood vessels, called endothelium. A study revealed that taking turmeric is as good as exercise in terms of strengthening the blood vessels. The efficacy of turmeric curcumin is also compared with Atorvastatin when it comes to preventing oxidative stress.
How to Make the Most of Turmeric Curcumin: The Role of Piperine
Unfortunately, curcumin cannot be directly and properly absorbed into the bloodstream on its own. To make the most of turmeric and curcumin’s benefits, it will help to add black pepper. Research shows that combining black pepper’s piperine with turmeric’s curcumin enhances absorption by around 2,000%.
This happens through one of two methods. First, black pepper’s piperine allows curcumin to penetrate the intestinal wall so it can enter the bloodstream easier. Second, piperine may slow down the method by which the liver breaks down curcumin, giving it enough time to get into the bloodstream before getting dissolved.
Furthermore, piperine offers its own set of outstanding benefits. It can help relieve headaches, nausea, and digestive problems. Like curcumin, it also has anti-inflammation properties. Studies show that piperine can help kill cancer cells as well.
When combined, curcumin and piperine form a powerful duo for preventing inflammation and digestive problems, as well as more serious conditions such as cancer.
The Best Way to Consume Turmeric
Both curcumin and piperine are considered safe to consume. However, although the maximum tolerable dosage for both substances is yet to be identified, users should follow dosage recommendations that come with any product they take. In general, the acceptable dietary intake for turmeric curcumin is 3 mg per kg (1.4 mg/lb) of body weight a day.
Turmeric is often consumed as a tea, which you can further spice up with black pepper. They can also be combined with coconut oil, olive oil, and honey. Of course, you can add them to dishes like curry. Additionally, take note that curcumin is a fat-soluble substance, so consuming it with healthy fat can improve its absorption.
You can fully reap the health benefits of curcumin when you take it in supplement form, especially when combined with piperine. Make sure to get turmeric supplements from reputable suppliers to ensure quality and safety.