Turmeric has been on the proverbial “Top 10 Superfoods” list in Traditional Chinese Medicine for a millennia. It’s effects of anti-inflammation, anti-cancer and detoxification are vastly researched and well documented. As researchers continue to investigate the health benefits of turmeric, previously undocumented benefits are being surfaced including:
- Anti-arthritic effects
- Improvements in cognitive function
- Fights Alzheimer's disease
- Restores blood sugar balance
The health benefits of turmeric are actually not due to its spice but its constituent called curcumin (Note: the term ‘turmeric' and ‘curcumin' are used interchangeably throughout this article. But it is curcumin that is largely responsible for all the health benefits discussed in this article).
I will share with you the top 3 medicinal uses for turmeric:
- how it helps to fight and prevent cancer,
- acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and
- fight Alzheimer's disease.
In order to benefit from turmeric, it is also important to consume it the right way. There's a big difference between eating herbs as a spice (food source) and consuming herbs for its therapeutic effects! I will cover all of this and more in this article but to start off with a spoiler, taking turmeric with black pepper is known to effectively increase your absorption of curcumin by 2000%! So read on to find out why turmeric is a MUST for you and your family.
Turmeric May Prevent And Even Fight Cancer
Turmeric is a powerful anti-cancer herb. Most studies regarding turmeric's anti-cancer properties have been conducted on lab animals. Most researchers agree that animal studies are not reliable as they are oftentimes not applicable to the human body. However, the case for turmeric is different. There are ABUNDANT numbers of controlled, replicable and reliable animal studies that just can't be ignored.
Turmeric is unique because it modulates multiple pathways of tumour growth. Dr William LaValley - one of the leading natural medicine cancer physicians - states that “Curcumin is unique in that it appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer. This is odd, considering the fact that cancer consists of a wide variety of different molecular pathologies. One reason for this universal anti-cancer proclivity is curcumin's ability to affect multiple molecular targets, via multiple pathways."
Cancer is devastating because they are difficult to diagnose in its early stages and their growth is both overt and uncontrollable. According to World Cancer Day, 7.6 million people die from cancer annually, out of which 4 million people die prematurely. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease.
Studies have shown that turmeric can help fight cancer through multiple pathways, rightfully making turmeric the king of all anti-cancer supplements. Turmeric fights/prevents cancer by:
- Reducing angiogenesis of tumour cells (formation of blood vessels)
- Reducing metastasis of tumour (spreading)
- Aiding in the death of cancerous cells
- Reducing inflammation
- Inhibiting the transformation of cells from normal to tumour
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent
Did you know that everyday foods such as bacon, eggs, coffee and dairy products lead to inflammation? Inflammation - whether we know it or not - is something that happens inside all of us, all the time. If inflammation is uncontrolled over a long period of time, it can get out of hand fast. Chronic, low-level inflammation is one of the major factors that underlie almost every chronic, Western diseases. This includes heart diseases, metabolic syndromes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other various degenerative conditions.
It turns out that curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and it goes as far as to match the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs. The agreed hypothesis throughout various studies is that turmeric works to lower inflammation levels by promoting changes in cell signalling and decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Turmeric has shown to be effective in alleviating many inflammatory conditions including:
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Note: Living a healthy life cannot be achieved by only adding a lot of “healthiness” into your life. You must first learn to take things out too! Recognise the toxins that you are frequentlty exposed to and remove them. Read: Inflammatory Foods You Should Avoid Like The Plague to identify some of the most common foods that cause inflammation and its healthier alternatives.
Turmeric is effective for Alzheimer's Disease and Brain Function
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia which causes dysfunction with memory and behaviour. The challenging part of living with Alzheimer's is that it's a progressive disease. With ageing, the symptoms tend to worsen. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and currently, there is no known cure for the disease. Just recently, CNN covered a story where Merck had to shut down a late-stage drug trial of its most promising Alzheimer’s drug after finding that it had "virtually no chance" of working. When it comes to chronic diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer's, prevention is always the best practice.
The build-up of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques is the most well-received pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Turmeric (or curcumin to be more specific) has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This means that curcumin can directly enter the brain in unaltered forms and exert their anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties in the brain. Studies have shown that curcumin can help clear these plaques through this process.
Alzheimer’s disease is also associated with decreased levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a type of growth hormone that is present in our brains. Studies have shown that curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF.
Besides Alzheimer's disease, turmeric is widely accepted to boost general brain health and cognitive functioning due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
How To Take Turmeric The Right Way For Therapeutic Effects
There's a difference between taking a natural ingredient for food purposes versus therapeutic effects. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the absorption of curcumin can be increased by up to 2000% by simply adding black pepper (piperine). This is important because while curcumin is the most active ingredient in turmeric, there’s only about 3 percent concentration in turmeric per weight. Authority Nutrition reports:
This means that naturally found turmeric from food sources is not enough to produce any significant effects. If you wish to reap the benefits of curcumin, the recommendation is to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin along with bioperine (another name for piperine). The best product should fulfil all the requirements below for maximal effects:
- High-quality turmeric extract that contains 100% certified organic ingredients
- 95 percent curcuminoids
- Free of fillers, additives
- Addition of piperine
After extensive research on turmeric and its current line of products available, I have found the perfect product. It ticks all the boxes above and the manufacturer donates a portion of their earnings to charity! It is produced in the U.S. with third party regulations in place for quality, purity and potency checks.
Turmeric is one of those supplements that I STRONGLY recommend to all of my friends, family and patients. I recommend all of my readers to do the same.