Turmeric is a bright yellow-orange spice that comes from the rhizomes (underground stems) of the Curcuma longa plant, which is a member of the Ginger family (Zingiberaceae). It is native to Southeast Asia and has been used for thousands of years in traditional Indian and Asian cuisines, as well as in traditional medicine systems such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

History of Turmeric

Turmeric has a rich history of use that spans thousands of years, dating back to Ancient times.

Here’s an overview of the history of turmeric use:

Ancient Ayurvedic Medicine: Turmeric has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, for over 4,000 years. In Ayurveda, turmeric is known as “Haridra” and is valued for its diverse medicinal properties. It is used to treat a wide range of ailments including; digestive disorders, respiratory conditions, skin diseases, wounds and joint pain.

Culinary Use in South Asia: Indians have known the health benefits of Turmeric for thousands of years. Turmeric was first known as Indian Saffron. Turmeric has been a key ingredient in South Asian cuisines, particularly Indian cuisine, for centuries. It is commonly used to flavor and color a variety of dishes, including; curries, rice dishes, soups, stews and pickles. Turmeric gives these dishes a distinctive golden-yellow hue and adds depth of flavor.

Religious and Cultural Significance: In Hinduism, turmeric holds religious and cultural significance. It is considered auspicious and is used in various religious rituals, ceremonies and festivals. Turmeric paste is applied to the skin in Hindu weddings as part of the haldi ceremony, symbolizing purification and blessings for the bride and groom.

Traditional Medicine Systems: Turmeric has been used in traditional medicine systems around the world, including traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Thai medicine, for its potential health benefits. It is valued for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and analgesic properties and is used to treat a variety of health conditions.

Medicinal Use in Ancient Civilizations: Turmeric was used as a medicinal herb in ancient civilizations such as Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. It was prized for its healing properties and was used to treat ailments ranging from digestive issues to skin conditions.

Spice Trade: Turmeric played a significant role in the ancient spice trade, which flourished along the Silk Road and maritime routes connecting Asia, Africa and Europe. Turmeric was highly valued for its culinary and medicinal properties and was traded extensively across continents.

Modern Research: In recent decades, scientific research has confirmed many of the traditional uses of turmeric and has uncovered additional potential health benefits. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been the subject of numerous studies exploring its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, neuroprotective and cardioprotective properties.

Today, turmeric continues to be widely used around the world for culinary, medicinal and cultural purposes.

Turmeric Root Becomes a Spice

The root system of Turmeric consists of bulbous rhizomes, which are boiled and dried, then ground into a powder which we know as the spice Turmeric. Turmeric’s vibrant color and distinctive flavor have made it a beloved spice in kitchens worldwide.

The Taste of Turmeric

Turmeric has a distinctive earthy aroma. It has a warm, peppery and somewhat bitter taste. It is a deep yellowish orange in colour. It is used in spice blends and various dishes, including; curries, soups, stews and rice dishes.

Curcumin in Turmeric

In addition to its culinary uses, turmeric is also valued for its various health benefits, primarily due to its primary active compound curcumin.

Curcumin is responsible for its vibrant color and many of its health benefits. It is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, and it has been the subject of numerous scientific studies exploring its potential therapeutic applications.

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Some potential health benefits of turmeric and curcumin include:

Antioxidant Effects of Turmeric

Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize harmful free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage in the body. It may help prevent oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. Oxidative stress is believed to play a role in the development and progression of MS, and antioxidants may help counteract this oxidative damage.

Turmeric to Enhance Immune Response

Curcumin has been investigated for its potential to modulate the immune system, including the regulation of inflammatory responses. In MS, where the immune system attacks the myelin sheath of nerve cells, modulating the immune response could have potential therapeutic effects.

Turmeric for Pain Relief

Turmeric and curcumin may have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties and may help alleviate pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, muscle soreness and menstrual cramps.

Disinfectant Properties of Turmeric

The active ingredient in Turmeric, curcumin, has disinfecting properties. This explains its healing powers when applied to cuts and abrasions. Taken orally as an anti-inflammatory, Turmeric does not have the side-effects commonly associated with some modern pharmaceutical medicines, which can include intestinal bleeding, ulcers and the decrease of white blood cells. This makes Turmeric a safe alternative to some non-prescription drugs.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Turmeric

As a natural anti-inflammatory, Curcumin has been shown to inhibit inflammation by blocking the activity of inflammatory enzymes and pathways in the body. Turmeric can provide relief to sufferers of joint pain conditions such as; arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and other inflammatory disorders.

Inflammation is a key factor in autoimmune diseases like MS, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the central nervous system. By reducing inflammation, curcumin may potentially modulate the immune response.

Turmeric May Slow Progression of Multiple Sclerosis

Turmeric, and its active compound curcumin, have been studied for their potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and some research suggests that they may have a beneficial impact on autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS).

Studies have suggested that curcumin may have neuroprotective effects. In the context of MS, these effects could potentially help protect nerve cells from damage caused by inflammation and other processes associated with the disease.

However, it’s important to note that the evidence is not conclusive, and more research is needed to establish the specific effects of turmeric in MS. Here are some ways in which turmeric might be theorized to help with multiple sclerosis.Studies have suggested that curcumin may have neuroprotective effects. In the context of MS, these effects could potentially help protect nerve cells from damage caused by inflammation and other processes associated with the disease.

Turmeric for Brain Health

Studies suggest that curcumin may have neuroprotective effects and may help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Turmeric for Digestive Health

Turmeric has been traditionally used to aid digestive function and support digestive health. Benefits of turmeric consumption include; relieving symptoms of indigestion, irritable bowel, reduction of gas and bloating and other stomach disorders.

Turmeric for Weight Loss

Turmeric’s detoxification and anti-inflammatory qualities promote healthy digestion and may aid in weight management by influencing factors like metabolism and fat tissue. Studies have shown that it helps clear LDL (bad cholesterol) from the liver and stimulates bile production to enhance liver function.

Turmeric for Cardiovascular Health

Curcumin has protective effects on the cardiovascular system by improving endothelial function, reducing inflammation, and lowering levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

Turmeric also reduces the buildup of plaque associated with cardiovascular disease. Curcumin in turmeric lowers two inflammatory enzymes, LOX and COX-2. This helps stop platelets from gathering to form blood clots.

Turmeric for Diabetes

Turmeric reduces blood sugar levels, a property valuable for helping those suffering from diabetes. You may also be interested in our article on Cinnamon as this is another spice which greatly helps the body naturally control blood sugars.

Turmeric for Skin Health, Acne and Anti-Aging

Turmeric has been traditionally used for various skin conditions due to its health benefits for the skin, including its anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and wound healing properties. Turmeric can be used for the management of skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne.

Here’s how turmeric can help with various skin conditions:

Acne: Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties can help reduce inflammation and fight acne-causing bacteria, potentially preventing breakouts and promoting clearer skin. It may also help regulate sebum production and reduce the appearance of acne scars and hyperpigmentation.

Eczema and Psoriasis: Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects may help alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It can help reduce redness, itching, and irritation associated with these conditions, providing relief for affected individuals.

Dry Skin: Turmeric’s moisturizing and hydrating properties can help soothe dry, rough, and flaky skin, restoring moisture and promoting softness and suppleness. It may be beneficial for individuals with dry skin conditions and eczema.

Rosacea: Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties can help calm redness and inflammation associated with rosacea, a chronic skin condition characterized by facial flushing, redness and visible blood vessels. It may help soothe sensitive skin and reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Anti-Aging: Turmeric’s antioxidant effects can help protect the skin from oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals, which can contribute to premature aging, wrinkles and fine lines. It may help maintain skin elasticity, firmness, and hydration, promoting a more youthful and healthy-looking complexion.

Sun Damage: Turmeric’s antioxidant properties can help protect the skin from UV-induced damage and minimize the harmful effects of sun exposure, such as sunburn, premature aging and skin cancer. It may help repair sun-damaged skin and support skin health.

Anti-inflammatory Effects: Acne is often associated with inflammation of the skin, leading to redness, swelling, and discomfort. Turmeric contains compounds such as curcumin that have potent anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing inflammation, turmeric may help alleviate the symptoms of acne and promote healing.

Antimicrobial Activity: Acne is often caused by the proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria on the skin, leading to infection and inflammation of the hair follicles. Turmeric has antimicrobial properties that can help inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria, reducing the risk of breakouts and preventing further infection.

Antioxidant Effects: Oxidative stress plays a role in the development of acne by increasing inflammation and promoting the production of sebum, the oily substance that can clog pores and contribute to acne formation. Turmeric is rich in antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the skin, helping to prevent and reduce acne breakouts.

Regulation of Sebum Production: Excessive production of sebum by the sebaceous glands can contribute to the development of acne by clogging pores and promoting the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Some studies suggest that turmeric may help regulate sebum production in the skin, reducing the risk of acne breakouts.

Promotion of Wound Healing: Turmeric has been shown to promote wound healing and tissue repair due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for acne-prone skin. It may help accelerate the healing process, reduce swelling, and minimize scarring associated with cuts, burns, and other skin injuries. By speeding up the healing process, turmeric may help reduce the duration and severity of acne lesions and prevent scarring.

Reduction of Hyperpigmentation: Acne lesions can sometimes leave behind dark spots or hyperpigmentation on the skin, especially in individuals with darker skin tones. Turmeric has been found to have skin-brightening properties and may help reduce the appearance of acne scars and hyperpigmentation, leading to a more even skin tone. Turmeric’s skin-brightening properties can help reduce the appearance of dark spots, sunspots, and hyperpigmentation on the skin. It may help even out skin tone and improve the overall complexion, leading to a more radiant and youthful appearance.

While turmeric may offer benefits for acne-prone skin, it’s essential to use it safely and effectively. Turmeric can stain the skin and clothing, so it’s advisable to dilute it with a carrier oil or incorporate it into skincare products such as masks or creams. Additionally, some individuals may be allergic to turmeric or experience skin irritation, so it’s recommended to perform a patch test before applying it to larger areas of the skin. If you have severe or persistent acne, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist for personalized treatment recommendations.

Turmeric Helps Cancer Treatment and Prevention

Using turmeric may have effects on slowing or preventing many forms of cancer. It slows the spread of cancer cells through elimination. Studies have produced evidence that turmeric can aid in preventing breast cancer from spreading to the lungs. It may help prevent colon cancer, and a study published in 2008 shows that it may aid in the prevention of pancreatic cancer.

Other foods combined with turmeric boost its healing capabilities. When combined with cauliflower, turmeric may help prevent prostate cancer. Onions may enhance the effects of turmeric on preventing colon cancer. Turmeric also helps prevent melanoma and stops the growth of new blood vessels developing in tumors. It is also thought to reduce the risk of childhood leukemia.

Turmeric Slows the Progression of Alzheimer’s

Turmeric prevents and slows the progression of Alzheimer disease by removing amyloid plaque from the brain. It keeps amyloid A fibroid from gathering to form plaque that leads to complication of the brain. Turmeric, specifically its active compound curcumin, has been studied for potential neuroprotective effects in Alzheimer’s disease, though conclusive evidence is still lacking.

The proposed mechanisms include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, potential clearance of beta-amyloid plaques, modification of tau proteins and promotion of neurogenesis. While laboratory and animal studies show promise, more research is needed to establish the efficacy of turmeric in preventing or slowing Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

Individuals considering turmeric supplementation for cognitive benefits should consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice, as interactions with medications and bioavailability issues may be relevant.

Other Traditional Uses of Turmeric

Although most often used for culinary purposes, such as curries for Asian dishes, and for human consumption as a dietary supplement,Turmeric has other uses as well. Indians have used Turmeric for its rich, orange color to make a dye for clothing and textiles. It is also used as a coloring for mustard, butter and cheese.

Gardeners and homeowners have found that the herb tends to deter ants.

How to Take Turmeric

Turmeric can be consumed through culinary additions to other foods. For more concentrated doses, dietary supplements are available in various forms including; capsules, tablets, powders and extracts.

Some of these supplements are combined with other ingredients to enhance Turmeric’s effectiveness on delivering health benefits to the body. Turmeric absorption is greatly increased by taking it with Black Pepper, and /or with oil, such as Olive Oil. Both aid in Turmeric absorption so you don’t need both. One or the other will help make Turmeric more bio-available for absorption into the body.

Turmeric can be a valuable addition to skincare routines for individuals looking to improve their skin health and address various skin concerns. It can be used topically in homemade masks, creams or serums, or consumed orally as a dietary supplement or spice to support overall skin health from within.

It’s important to choose high-quality supplements from reputable sources and to follow the recommended dosage instructions.

Turmeric is often mis-spelt as Tumeric.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Turmeric Notes / Side Effects

While turmeric is generally considered safe when used in culinary amounts, high doses or supplements may interact with medications or have side effects.

Additionally, the bio-availability of Curcumin can be limited, and formulations designed to enhance absorption may be recommended.

When using turmeric topically, avoid excessive or prolonged use as it may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. If you have specific skin concerns or conditions, it’s advisable to consult with a dermatologist for personalized treatment recommendations.

It’s important to approach the use of turmeric or curcumin supplements cautiously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional for individuals with chronic health conditions like MS.

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