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by Cat Ailsa August 11, 2014 3 min read

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice widely used in cooking that has a variety of health benefits.  It is commonly used in a variety of Indian dishes and curries for its colour and aromatic properties but also as a medicinal plant with healing properties.

Turmeric is also used in some spiritual and religious practice as it is associated with purity, fertility and auspicious beginnings in Hindu culture.



Superfood Properties of Turmeric

In Ayurveda, turmeric is said to balance the three bodily humours (dosha) which can parallel in Western medicine to issues relating to the nervous system, the digestive system and bodily issues (e.g. tissue and joint health).  Studies have shown that turmeric is beneficial for a variety of applications, and has many healing properties, including:

1)        Antiseptic and antibacterial properties

2)        Liver detoxifier

3)        Powerful anti-inflammatory

4)        Natural pain killer

5)        Helps lift mood

6)        Accelerates wound healing and repairing of damaged skin

7)        Thermogenic (can aid in fat loss)


Most of the studies on turmeric have usually isolated curcurmin as the active ingredient responsible for many of its healing properties.



What does Curcurmin do?

Studies have shown that Curcurmin is a powerful medicine that can help treat a variety of issues some of which are listed below.

  1. Cancer-fighting: Curcurmin has been proven to irreversibly inhibit aminopeptidase N (APN), an enzyme that spurs tumor invasiveness and angiogenesis (blood vessel growth).  APN is a membrane-bound, zinc dependent metalloproteinase that breaks down proteins at the cell surface and helps cancer cells invade the space of neighboring cells.
  2. Bisdemethoxycurcumin helps Alzheimers patients by increasing the production of certain genes and enhances production of macrophages (immune cells) which are responsible for the clearance of amyloid plaques in the brain (the primary abnormality seen in patients with the disease).
  3. Treatment of Cystic Fibrosis ‚Äď curcurmin supports performance of the gene F508 (a mutation of which can commonly cause Cystic Fibrosis).
  4. Heart health - Prevents and reverses cardiac hypertrophy, restoring heart function and reducing scar formation.


Isn’t Turmeric a Nightshade?

Nightshades are a group of flowering plants from the Solanaceae family which may adversely affect people with autoimmune issues due primarily to the inflammatory alkaloids solanine, tropane, pyrrolizidine and indole.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a part of the Zingiberaceae family (the same family as ginger) and therefore is not a nightshade.  In fact, the presence of the alkaloid curcurmin can inhibit inflammation, amongst its many other benefits.


How much Turmeric do I need?

Although studies with curcurmin have used higher doses than are usually viable to take orally, even a small amount of curcurmin can assist with health benefits.¬† The table below shows that certain studies have had positive outcomes with dosages as low as 20mg/day (equivalent to approximately 660mg of turmeric powder) ‚Äď this is easily achievable if supplementing with turmeric tablets.

  • 20mg/day of curcurmin taken for a period of 28 days resulted in lower LDL and increased HDL.
  • 72-144mg/day of curcurmin resulted in reduced IBS symptoms.
  • 100mg/day of curcurmin (764mg turmeric)¬†improved cognitive function in Alzheimer‚Äôs patients.

 (Source: The Medicinal Chemistry of the Alkaloids of Curcuma longa)



How Can I Add More Turmeric to my Diet?

  • The simplest way ‚Äďtake it as a supplement!
  • Add to cooking ‚Äď it pairs well in curries and with fish, roasted chicken and roasted vegetables.¬† Try adding it as a spice into yourbone broth or homemade burgers made with grass fed ground beef!
  • Try opening a capsule of turmeric powder in your Bulletproof Coffee!
  • Try an Frozen Turmeric Tonic ‚Äď Mix 1/4tsp each of grated ginger and turmeric with the juice of half a lemon.¬† Blend with two cups of ice and add raw honey to taste!





What's YOUR favourite way to use turmeric?

Cat Ailsa
Cat Ailsa

This article was contributed by a guest author with expert knowledge in their field.

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