Turmeric has a long history of use in the ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems, and today there are thousands of peer-reviewed research articles demonstrating the health benefits of turmeric.
Have you enjoyed the flavor of turmeric? Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian cooking and gives curry its rich flavor and yellow color. But even if you don’t eat Indian foods, you probably have consumed turmeric – it’s often used in mustard for the bright yellow color, and is found in other popular foods as well.
Turmeric is related to ginger and is grown in tropical areas of southern Asia. After harvesting, the roots are boiled and dried, then ground into a fine powder. The flavor is mild, and a little goes a long way when added to dishes for flavor and color.
But turmeric is much more than just a culinary spice, and the current research indicates turmeric is as effective, if not more potent than many prescription medications.
Turmeric Health Benefits
Research shows the health benefits of consuming turmeric and its primary compound curcumin. Studies show turmeric’s benefits for the following:
- Powerful anti-inflammatory
- Pain Reliever
- Improves insulin sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes
- Anti-cancer and cancer treatment
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Antibacterial and antiviral
- Strong antioxidant
Food as Medicine
I truly believe our best medicines are found in traditional foods. We are able to benefit from culinary traditions from around the world, and many of our common foods have long histories of use as food and medicine. For example, our family frequently benefits from the powerful health benefits of raw honey, sage, ginger, and garlic. The more I look at the research and history of turmeric, the more convinced I am that we can all benefit from adding this beautiful and healing food to our diets and our lives.
Here is a fun article with six great turmeric recipes including a smoothie, cough suppressant, curried meatballs, and more.
There are so many benefits to adding turmeric to our diet, and it is a very versatile spice, I’m sure you can find creative ways to make turmeric a part of your day.
Turmeric – How Much Should You Take?
In addition to the health benefits of turmeric as a food, many are turning to turmeric supplements. Turmeric and its primary compound curcumin are available in capsules and tablets. How much should you take for a health benefit? Are there precautions with using turmeric?
I have found sources that recommend turmeric extracts in capsule or tablet form be taken in doses of 1200 – 1800 mg daily. But do your research, and be aware there are side-effects and precautions associated with high doses of turmeric.
Although turmeric is a food and generally safe to consume in modest amounts, consuming too much turmeric either as a food or a supplement can have consequences. “Natural” doesn’t always mean “Safe”, especially for those taking prescription medications. Turmeric does interact with some prescription medications, and you should talk with your doctor and pharmacist if you are considering using high doses of turmeric.
High Doses of Turmeric Have Sometimes Resulted In:
- Increased Risk of Bleeding
- Low Blood Pressure
- Uterine Contractions in Pregnant Women
- Increased Menstrual Flow
- Overactive Gall Bladder Contractions
- Increased Liver Function Tests
The safest way to enjoy the health benefits of turmeric is to use it as it has always been used – in modest amounts as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet including plenty of whole foods, vegetables, and fruits. Enjoy exploring the recipes and get creative!
In good health,
- Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in treatment of Major Depressive Disorder PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832433
- Taylor RA, et al. Curcumin for inflammatory bowel disease: a review of human studies. Altern Med Rev 2011; 16(2): 152-6.