Turmeric, or Curcuma (‘Kumkuma’ in the Sanskrit language, which means ‘saffron yellow colour’) is a commonly-used spice in Indian cuisine, especially in curries.
The same quantity of Turmeric powder by weight has 100 times more antioxidant value in it than green grapes or raw apricots. This potency has given Turmeric huge potential to remove damaging oxygen radicals and prevent ailments, including cancer and signs of premature ageing.
Other than being part of Indian, Southeast Asian and Persian cuisine, Turmeric is also used as a natural food colouring agent, preservative and as a natural dye. The active ingredient, Curcumin, has given very promising results in its study for Alzheimer’s disease and various inflammatory conditions.
Although much has been published about Curcumin, comparatively few studies have studied Turmeric itself. Newer studies have identified several effects of turmeric which do not come from the presence of Curcumin alone. This signifies the value of the spice as a whole, rather than a chemical extract from it.
Here are five research studies that show promising benefits from this humble spice.
1) It causes the death of cancer cells in specifically basal cell carcinoma. 1
2) A 2017 study showed the enhanced effect of Curcumin extract when used along with turmeric oils in colitis. This study improves our understanding of turmeric beyond just Curcuma extract and shows the effectiveness of the whole root than single extract especially in chronic inflammatory ailments. 2
3) Studies have also found turmeric to be effective in the management of osteoarthritis. The effect was described as equivalent to NSAID anti-inflammatories and potentially as effective as glucosamine supplements 3.
4) A study conducted in 2018 on the effect of Turmeric and cCrcumin extract on gut bacteria showed a similar impact for both. The variety of bacteria species increased by 69% when the Curcuma was given compared to a 15% reduction in diversity in the control group. The impact of this positive effect needs further study to be understood and used effectively 4.
5) Another 2014 study on Turmeric and Cinnamon in diabetic patients showed that it has a positive impact on memory improvement. Potentially, such studies might lead way to more on this topic and could help in preventing the increasing incidence of dementia, especially in diabetic patients. 5
1. Curcumin induces a p53-dependent apoptosis in human basal cell carcinoma cells. Jee SH, Shen SC, Tseng CR, Chiu HC, Kuo ML. J Invest Dermatol 1998;111:656-61.
2. Essential turmeric oils enhance anti-inflammatory efficacy of curcumin in dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis. Shusuke Toden, Arianne L. Theiss, Xuan Wang, and Ajay Goel.
3.Efficacy of Curcuma for Treatment of Osteoarthritis. Kimberly Perkins, PharmD,1 William Sahy, PharmD,1 and Robert D. Beckett.
4. Effects of Turmeric and Curcumin Dietary Supplementation on Human Gut Microbiota: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. Peterson CT et al.
5. Turmeric improves post-prandial working memory in pre-diabetes independent of insulin. Lee MS et al.
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