Friday, January 16, 2009

Health Benefits Of The Humble Turmeric

Turmeric root, wiki

Reduce Your Medical Bills - Include This Herb In Your Diet

The name
"Sangli" is not known to many people outside India. A herb that this district headquarters - tucked away in the south of Maharashtra state in India - trades in, is however now becoming the center of attention for researchers the world over. Sangli happens to the world's largest trading hub for Turmeric, also spelt "tumeric".

Turmeric Plant, wiki

This yellow-colored spice with a warm and peppery-mellow and somewhat-bitter flavor, goes by the name of "Curcuma Longa L" in botany books, and is categorized under rhizome. Besides its culinary usage as spice, the rhizome has traditionally been used as an anti-inflammatory agent, and quite a few Asian countries grow it. Attention of science turned towards its health benefits due to an ingredient known as "Curcumin" that the rustic, cheerful-looking rhizome holds within it. This attention is borne out by a recent spate in medical literature of research papers that present the outcomes of their experiments with this chemical. And if the essence of all these outcomes were to be summarized in one line, it is this: "Include Turmeric In Your Daily Diet". In the background of the dilemma of increasing antibiotic resistance, adverse side-effects, and high cost of medicines, these latest findings hold great promise and therefore worth putting on record.

Turmeric Powder, wiki

Take for instance, the impact of curcumin on cancer cells, discussed in this paper (published in the Feb 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry). Curcumin has been found to inhibit the invasion of cancer cells (HT1080 human fibro-sarcoma) and renders them impotent. A modified version of curcumin molecules has been identified that appears to be especially promising. Look forward to pills made from the modified version being prescribed by doctors in the near future. Till that time comes, you could consider including the herb in your diet if cancer is a condition that bothers you.

turmeric herb, courtesy

Another interesting research has been reported in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Ethno-pharmacology. The experiment discussed here concluded that curcumin cures atrophic gastritis and duodenal ulcer or gastric ulcer, both of which can potentially lead to gastric cancer (the team found that another herb, botanically known as Mallotus philippinensis (Lam) Muell and "kampillaka" in local lingo, has been found to be even more effective). The subjects chosen by the research team who underwent the experiment must have gone home very happy!

turmeric powder and herb, courtesy

And here is some good news for those with hypothyroidism. Are you resigned to a daily intake of thyroxine for the rest of your life? You can ameliorate your condition by a combination of vitamin E and circumin, is what scientists from an Indian university have concluded (yet-to-be-published in the Journal of Life Sciences, available online here). The same paper also highlights the therapeutic effects of the two ingredients on liver-based conditions.

Turmeric plant, courtesy

One more paper worth mentioning here on the impact of the humble turmeric on health is published in the Jan-Feb 2009 issue of the Journal of Diabetes. The researchers report that a combination of bitter gourd and spent turmeric dramatically improves glycoconjugate metabolism (technicalese for diabetes-control). This time, the turmeric version used is the one from which curcumin has been removed (that is why they call it "spent" turmeric), so only the dietary fibers remain.

turmeric plant, courtesy

I could go on and on; there are over 2,300 papers on this subject right now in ScienceDirect. The key message to take back is: to include turmeric in your diet. Doesn't have any side-effects, but will help you reduce your medical bills! And full disclosure, for the jadedly cynical: this blogger does not have any vested interest in any company promoting turmeric-based products!


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