urmeric has been on the proverbial “top 10 superfoods” list in Chinese medicine for millennia. It’s potency on anti-inflammatory benefits, decreased cancer risk and support of detoxification have been vastly researched and documented. As researchers continue to investigate the health benefits of turmeric, their previously acknowledged health benefits are being further appreciated and at the same time, new benefits such as alleviating arthritis, improving cognitive function, fighting Alzheimer’s disease and restoring blood sugar balance are being surfaced.
The widely accepted health benefits of turmeric are actually not due to its spice but its best-studied constituent called curcumin (Note that the term ‘turmeric' and ‘curcumin' have been used interchangeably throughout this article). In this article, I will share with you the top 3 medicinal uses for turmeric; how it may help you fight and prevent cancer, act as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and fight Alzheimer's disease. At the end of the article, I will also share with you how to ingest turmeric the right way. Sometimes people confuse the difference between ingesting herbs as a spice (food source) and consuming it for therapeutic efficacies. Spoiler: taking turmeric with black pepper effectively increases your bodily absorption of curcumin by 2000%!
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 would agree that animal studies are not the most reliable source as they are oftentimes not applicable to the human body. However, the case of anti-cancer properties of turmeric is different; there are abundant numbers of controlled, replicable and reliable animal studies that demonstrate its potency.
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, making turmeric the king of anti-cancer supplements:
- Reduce angiogenesis of tumour cells (formation of blood vessels)
- Reduce metastasis of tumour (spreading)
- Aiding in the death of cancerous cells
- Decrease inflammation
- Inhibit 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 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 as 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 levels of inflammation 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 readily 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 that causes dysfunction with one's memory, behaviour. The challenging part of living with Alzheimer's is that it's a progressive disease. With ageing, the symptoms tend to drastically get worse. In fact, 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 promising Alzheimer’s drug after finding that it had ‘virtually no chance’ of working.
The formation and the build-up of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques are 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 unaltered, and apply their anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties in the brain. Studies have shown that curcumin can help clear these plaques.
Many common brain disorders including Alzheimer’s disease have been linked to decreased levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in the brain. Studies have shown that curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF. Based on the reproducibility and the consistency of such findings, researchers believe that turmeric and its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may also promote brain health in general for improved cognitive functioning.
How To Take Turmeric The Right Way For Therapeutic Effects
There's a difference between taking a natural ingredient for food purposes versus therapeutic efficacy. Practising the proper way to ingest particular foods is just as important as knowing what foods are healthy - especially if your interests are to achieve therapeutic effects.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the absorption of curcumin can be increased by up to 2000% by simply supplementing it with black pepper (it's the natural element called 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 reported:
This means that naturally found turmeric from foods is not enough to produce any significant therapeutic effects. If you wish to reap the benefits of curcumin, the recommendation is to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin that contains 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
If you are out in the market in search for a product that ticks all the boxes above, I’ve got one for you. After extensive research on turmeric and its current line of products available, I have found the perfect product. What’s even more exciting for me to share this company is that a portion of their earnings are donated to the ones in need.