Benefits Of Turmeric
Turmeric, also known as the Indian saffron or golden spice is a flowering plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is known as Curcuma longa scientifically and it is native to India, southeast Asia and some parts of central America. The turmeric plant is rhizomatous, herbaceous and perennial. They are usually gathered for their rhizomes. If the rhizomes are not going to be used fresh, they are turned to powder by boiling in water for about 30-45 minutes then dried in a hot oven or dried in the sun in a 5-7 cm thick layer for about 2 weeks and ground into the powder spice which is a deep yellow orange turmeric powder. The yield is 10-30%. This spice powder is usually used as a colouring agent in many Asian cuisines.
Turmeric is a spice that has received much interest from both the medical/scientific worlds as well as from the culinary world. Extensive survey of the scientific literature revealed that turmeric is highly regarded as a universal remedy in the herbal medicine with a wide spectrum of pharmacological activities
Turmeric powder has curcumin as the main active ingredient in it. This active ingredient has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and also it is a very strong antioxidant. Turmeric actually gets its health benefits primarily from curcumin. The turmeric powder has a warm, bitter, pungent flavour. It is mildly aromatic with scents of orange and ginger.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, turmeric and ginger are very similar and belong to the same ginger family of plants. Turmeric, like ginger, are derived from roots.The turmeric blooms are green and white edged with vibrant pink with white flowers.
Turmeric plants reach about 1 metre in height and bear long simple ovate-lanceolate leaves with long petioles (leaf stems). The leaves emerge from the branching rhizomes that lie just below the soil surface. The plant does not have a well-defined stem. It is a pseudostem which is shorter than the leaves. Generally turmeric is ready for harvesting within 7-9 months. Turmeric needs a warm, humid climate for growth and 1500 to 2250 mm per annum rainfall.
Culinary uses of Turmeric
As a powder, turmeric has been used as a spice in vegetable and meat preparations in many Asian countries for centuries. Turmeric adds a distinctive yellow colour and flavor to foods. Turmeric contains 69.4% carbohydrates, 6.3% protein, 5.1% fat, 3.5% minerals, and 13.1%. moisture.
- In India turmeric is always added at the beginning of the cooking process and mixed with other aromatics such as onions, ginger and garlic.
- Turmeric is beloved in Iranian cuisine, where it is commonly combined with black pepper, cardamom and cinnamon in a spice mix called advieh.
- Turmeric is present in many Moroccan dishes, this ancient orange-coloured spice imported from Southeast Asia has been an essential staple in Moroccan cuisine for centuries.
- In prepared foods, turmeric is used in mustard, mayonnaise, chutneys and pickles.
- Turmeric is non-toxic and can be consumed daily
Other Turmeric uses
- It is used to make fabric dye in most Indian clothing.
- Used as an indicator paper in science practices.
- It was used in traditional wedding ceremonies by the Hindu and south Asian Muslims.
- In Micronesia, turmeric powder was applied for embellishment of the body, clothing, utensils and for ceremonial uses.
- There are many uses for turmeric in the traditional Asian and Indian medicine.
Curcumin from Turmeric.
Curcumin, the most active component of turmeric, makes up 2–5% of this spice. The yellow colour of the turmeric is due to the curcumin compound. The yellow coloured compound of turmeric was isolated in 1842 and was named curcumin. After a long-term use in traditional Ayruvedic medicine, modern scientific community discovered that curcumin has beneficial effects on a variety of diseases and pathological conditions.
Curcumin has shown to possess anticancer effects by blocking transformation, tumour initiation, tumour promotion, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis. In 1995, it was discovered that curcumin inhibits NFKB, pointing toward curcumin’s potential as an effective and safe anti-inflammatory agent.
Curcumin has been used mainly in three main areas for more than 2000 years foodstuff, cosmetic and medicine. Since the first article on curcumin published in The Lancet in 1937 over 2500 more publications have appeared in the National lnstitutes of Health pubMed
Turmeric for Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s immune system’s response to an irritant. The irritant might be a germ, but it could also be a foreign object, such as a splinter in your finger.When the body experiences injury, irritation, or infection, an acute inflammatory response occurs to heal the affected tissue.
Extensive clinical trials over the past several decades have addressed curcumin’s against many diseases in humans. However, research
on curcumin accelerated much earlier when it was found to have not only anti-inflammatory properties but also cholesterol-lowering, anti diabetic, and antioxidant properties
Because of its chemical structure, curcumin (from turmeric) is a strong antioxidant and free radical scavenger and can therefore prevent diseases that involve damage caused by free radicals. Turmeric is therefore a powerful anti-inflammatory agent .
Health Benefits of Turmeric.
Almost 2500 preclinical studies in vitro and in vivo have prompted various clinical trials in human subjects. The extensive investigations had indicated that curcumin possess health benefits, it reduces blood cholesterol, prevents low-density lipoprotein oxidation, inhibits platelet aggregation, suppresses thrombosis and myocardial infarction, suppresses symptoms associated with type II diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheirner’s disease, inhibits HIV replication, enhances wound healing, protects from liver injury, prevents cataract formation, and has anticancer activities.
Turmeric possesses more than 300 different components, including phenoliccompounds and terpenoids , benefits of turmeric include;
- Prevents and treats Alzheimer’s disease.
- Treats arthritis
- Helps prevent and treat cancer
- Treats depression
- Lowers the risk of heart disease
- Lowers the risk of brain disease
- Fights aging and age-related chronic diseases
- Relieves pain
- Regulates cholesterol
- Combats obesity
- Fights inflammation
- Helps with digestion
- Improves liver function
- Aids in detoxification
- May slow down or prevent blood clots.
Scientific Research on Turmeric
Turmeric Antioxidant Activity
- Curcumin a powerful scavenger of oxygen free radicals, its antioxidant activity is comparable to vitamins C and E.
- It can significantly inhibit the generation of reactive oxygen species such as, superoxide anions and nitrite radical.
- Curcumin pre-treatment has been shown to decrease restriction of oxygen and changes in the heart.
Turmeric benefits for the heart and blood (cardiovascular)
- Turmeric lowers, plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Turmeric benefits for the Body
- Curcumin inhibited formaldehyde induced arthritis in rats.
- A study of 25 patients with endoscopically diagnosed gastric ulcer, given 600 mg powdered turmeric five times daily, showed completely healed in 48 percent of patients.
Turmeric benefits for skin.
Helps increase skin elasticity to fade away fine lines and wrinkles hence slow down antiaging process.
- Provides a lustrous glow to the skin
- Heals wounds
- Helps treat psoriasis
- Helps with acne scarring
- Helps treat eczema
- Boost skin health
- Exfoliates the skin
- Helps fade away stretchmarks.
Scientific papers on turmeric benefits for skin
- According to the scientific study , curcumin possesses significant therapeutic effects for various skin conditions, including anti‐inflammatory properties, wound healing benefits and antimicrobial effects.
- Turmeric can potentially be used to regulate sebum production in human skin, Persons with excessively oily skin or are suffering from acne will greatly benefit from this property.
How to use turmeric for great skin.
Turmeric as a face mask.
You will need turmeric powder, bentonite clay, an essential oil like frankincense, milk, hydrosol , water (any of your choice). Mix the ingredients together to make a fine paste. On a freshly cleansed face, apply the paste evenly all over the face and let it sit for about 10-20 minutes. Rinse it out with lukewarm water.
As a face scrub
You will need turmeric powder, sugar crystals, an essential oil of your choice and a carrier oil of your choice. Mix the ingredients together and apply on a freshly cleansed face. Scrub the face gently for about a minute or two and let it sit on your face for about 10 minutes and scrub once more then rinse off with lukewarm water and use a gentle cleanser to cleanse your face.
As an ingredient in soap making.
Turmeric has been used in soaps to brighten the skin and help with scarring.
Safety precautions when using turmeric.
First you need to check if your body has any reactions to turmeric. So, if you are to consume it, you need to take a little turmeric before you increase the quantity.
If you are to use turmeric topically on the skin, you need to test it on your fore arm by applying a dime sized amount and wait for 24 to 48 hours to see if you will react to it. Reaction can be seen by any irritation, redness or swelling on the skin.
Turmeric temporarily stains the skin and anything it gets into contact with. This is normal so you need to be careful when using turmeric near items you don’t want to stain.
Turmeric has a low bioavailability meaning that your body metabolism burns it off quickly and your body doesn’t absorb it quickly.
If you are under medication, turmeric may react to them so it is advised to consult your doctor to find out if you are clear to use turmeric alongside medication.
If you are to undergo surgery, stop using turmeric two weeks prior to the surgery to avoid the risk of over bleeding.
Do not use turmeric on your skin if you are allergic to the spice in food.
By Eila Oketch.