We learned about some fascinating turmeric facts in our last article. Today, we are going to delve deep in its health benefits. One funny thing we will like to mention in this context is that, turmeric’s health benefits have been known to Indians for thousands of years and western medical science thought it was just a gimmick. However, with modern research, western medical practitioners and scientists have now started accepting that turmeric indeed has medical and health benefits that cannot be overlooked. On the other hand, ancient Indian Ayurveda has been using turmeric as one of the primary ingredients in Ayurvedic medicines.
Okay, this fight of who is superior and who knows what can actually continue (and mind it, we have already done some articles on the same that you can read on this website) for long. So, instead of wasting time unnecessarily, let us take a look at the list of turmeric health benefit facts. Prepare to be amazed!
Turmeric Health Benefits Facts: 1-5
1. Turmeric has a number of compounds which are known as curcuminoids. Of these compounds, there is one active ingredient known as the curcumin. This is the primary ingredient of turmeric and is known have extremely strong antioxidant properties and also, anti-inflammatory properties.
2. We will skip the details here and just say that while inflammation is necessary, chronic inflammation is one of the major culprits when it comes to number of western diseases such as Alzheimer’s metabolic syndrome, cancer, heart diseases etc. So, fighting chronic inflammation is really important. This is where curcumin comes in as the savior.
3. Research says that chronic inflammation is caused by a molecule named NF-kB. This molecule is known for traveling straight into cell nucleus and turning on the genes that are associated with inflammation.
4. What curcumin in turmeric does is that it simply blocks the NF-kB molecule from entering cell nucleus. This helps in the fight against inflammation right at molecular level. As a matter of fact, curcumin has been found to work way better than various anti-inflammatory drugs.
5. You must have heard of free radicals that are nothing but molecules with free electrons and hence, highly reactive. They are responsible for many diseases and even aging. Curcumin has been found to have a structure that naturally neutralize the free radicals. This makes curcumin a very powerful antioxidant.
Turmeric Health Benefits Facts: 6-10
6. Apart from working as an antioxidant, curcumin is known to have the ability to increase or boost the activities of those enzymes in our body that work as antioxidants.
7. It was previously believed that once humans crossed early childhood, neurons lose the ability of dividing and hence, multiplying. However, it has now been proven that apart from creating new connections, neurons even multiply and increase their numbers in specific parts of the brain.
8. This happens because of BDNF or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which is basically a growth hormone that is found in our brain. Studies have found that curcumin actually helps to increase BDNF levels in brain and thereby prevent several brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and depression usually associated with low BDNF levels.
9. Did you know there is something known as endothelium in our body. It is nothing but an epithelium cell. There are hundreds and thousands of these present in our body. The right place to look for endothelial cells is to look at the interior of the blood vessels. These endothelial cells can dysfunction.
10. When endothelial dysfunction happens, body finds it difficult to regulate the blood pressure and even finds it difficult to clot blood. This leads to a number of heart diseases. Scientists have found that the curcumin is very effective in improving the functions of the endothelial cells. In fact, scientists claim that curcumin is actually as effective as Atrovastatin (a commercial drug) and even exercise.
Turmeric Health Benefits Facts: 11-15
11. Not just that, did you know that inflammation and even oxidation (caused by free radicals) actually lead to heart diseases? We have already discussed above how curcumin helps with both.
12. Talking of curcumin’s effect on our heart, scientists actually took a group of 121 test subjects (patients), who were about to undergo a bypass surgery of coronary artery. A few days ahead of the surgery, these patients were randomly broken down into two groups. One group was given curcumin (4 grams every day) while the other group was given placebo. It turned out that those who receive curcumin actually showed 65% reduction in heart attack risk in hospital!
13. When it comes to cancer treatment, curcumin has received quite some attention. In animal trials it has been found that curcumin is responsible for angiogenesis reduction (angiogenesis simply means that new blood vessels start growing inside cancerous tumors).
14. Those trials even found that curcumin prevents metastasis (which is nothing but spreading of cancer). What’s more? Scientists have found that this curcumin actually helps in killing cancerous cells.
15. Scientists have actually found evidences that the ingredient curcumin found in turmeric can actually prevent cancer development in the first place. This is especially true in case of cancers that occur in our digestive system (for example colorectal cancer).
Turmeric Health Benefits Facts: 16-20
16. An extensive study was conducted on 44 human test subjects. All of them had lesions in their colons. These lesions are known for sometimes becoming cancerous. The test group was given a fixed curcumin dose of 4 grams for 30 days straight. Later, those subjects were tested and to the surprise of the scientists, 40% lesions simply vanished!
17. You must have heard of Alzheimer’s. It is world’s one of the commonest neurodegenerative diseases and often leads to dementia. What really happens in case of Alzheimer’s is that Amyloid plaques or protein tangles are formed. It is very necessary to clear these plaques for treating Alzheimer’s.
18. There is however a small problem. A substance that can cross blood-brain barrier can do that. Studies show that curcumin can comfortably pass through this barrier and can potentially clear those plaques or tangles. However, it is a subject matter of extensive study.
19. Arthritis – now that’s something really common in West. There are variants of arthritis but one of commonest is that of joint inflammation. A study was conducted on patients of rheumatoid arthritis and scientists found that curcumin supplement worked way better that anti-inflammatory drugs.
20. We spoke about BNDF in point number 8 above and said that said that curcumin helps with depression. But how? Scientists conducted a study with 60 test subjects broken down into 3 groups. Group 1 was given prozac. Group 2 was given 1 gram curcumin and the third was given a combination of prozac and curcumin. The test lasted for 6 weeks and it was found that those who took only curcumin did as good as those who took only prozac. The third group gave best results, effectively concluding that curcumin is a very effective anti-depressant. Depression has a link with low levels of BNDF falls and even with shrinking hippocampus. Because curcumin helps to increase BNDF levels, it helps to reverse some damage!
What more? Bonus Turmeric Health Benefits Facts
Research shows that curcumin in turmeric is capable of boosting dopamine and serotonin – neurotransmitters in our brain.
Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications published a report in year 2009 where it has been mentioned that turmeric helps in reversing Type 2 Diabetes by activating AMPK responsible for increasing insulin sensitivity. As a matter of fact, it has been found that potency of turmeric in this case is 400 times more that Metformin – a drug usually prescribed to diabetics.
Chronic eye inflammation was usually treated by steroids until in 1999, clinical studies proved that curcumin not only cures this problem but at the same time, gets rid of the side effects of steroids which include:
Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
Turmeric has antibacterial and antiseptic properties as well and has been traditionally used in India for disinfecting burns and cuts.
Turmeric has been found to help in damaged skin remodeling and boosts the rate of healing of wounds.
Austria’s Medical University Graz found in a preliminary research that curcumin is capable of delaying hepatic or liver damage, which is one of the reasons for liver cirrhosis.