Also known as the 'Golden Spice' or 'The Sacred Root', Turmeric has long been known for its health benefits throughout India and is a staple in their diet and medicinal cabinet.
Thankfully Western science is catching up and there have been a number of recent studies proving that Turmeric has countless health benefits.
The active ingredient in Turmeric is known as Curcumin and as a close relative of ginger, has been found to have several immune boosting, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Unfortunately Turmeric off the spice shelf in the local supermarket only contains about 3% Curcumin so merely adding a hint of spice to your evening meal wont quite cut it.
In the studies of Turmeric most of the volunteers were taking concentrated Turmeric extract, containing much higher volumes of Curcumin.
So what is it good for I hear you ask? Well studies have shown benefits in a number of areas, including arthritis and joint pain, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, depression and even cancer.
The Curcumin in Turmeric has been proven to reduce the inflammatory response. So in theory any condition caused by inflammation should be improved by the consumption of turmeric. It has also been suggested that almost all of chronic, modern, western illness is in one way or another caused by inflammation.
This includes things like Crohn's disease, arthritis, COPD, endometriosis, hayfever and allergies. The list is endless and the implications of this information are significant.
Another key factor to Curcumin consumption is the antioxidant properties it possesses. Simply put, this means that it can also potentially prevent the occurrence of illnesses such as those mentioned above, as well as cancer, heart disease and a wealth of other conditions.
This is because antioxidants are known to prevent free radical production in the body which is a leading cause of many illnesses. But not only does it reduce free radical production, Turmeric stimulates your bodies own antioxidant defence system. Really... What's not to love?
The final benefit of Turmeric I'm going to mention in this post is the neurological benefits it seems to posses.
Its been suggested that Curcumin can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases due to its ability to cross-the blood brain barrier, fight inflammation and plaque build up in the brain, and stimulate the production of a beneficial growth hormone called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Ongoing studies continue in this area.
Turmeric has been shown to play a roll in fighting depression and one study suggested that in cases of depression it is at least as effective as mild antidepressant therapy.
The immune boosting benefits of turmeric are undeniable but the research is still in its infancy. More studies need to be done on this wonder spice, but with it's disease fighting and preventing benefits, it is a relatively inexpensive way of looking after yourself that doesn't even involve getting up from the couch. It's a win, win, win for us.
Tip: Look for a supplement that contains black pepper as this is thought to improve absorption.