Spices and condiments are not just to enhance the taste but also, they have many unmatchable health benefits. One such beneficial herb is Turmeric.Natural plant products are used since long in the human history.I will discuss all the details of turmeric health benefits in this article and also let you know, what makes turmeric so special!Out of many such plants, turmeric is one that possesses health benefits along with other uses as well.
It has its mentions in the books of history called “Veda” in India about medicinal uses and benefits.So, let’s begin with everything about Turmeric that is important and interesting to know.
What is Turmeric?
The rhizome from which you get turmeric is tuberous, rough and with segmented skin, like ginger. From inside, it is bright yellow or yellowish orange, which is why it has got the name “Indian Saffron”.Turmeric is essentially a herbaceous perennial plant that produces rhizomes, like Ginger. This plant called Curcuma Longa belongs to the Ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to South Asia, majorly India.
Turmeric plant grows to a height of 1 m from the ground level and needs a temperature between 20 degree Celsius to 30 degree Celsius. It has long oblong leaves, which makes it easier to identify this plant.
The rhizomes mature beneath the foliage of turmeric plant appear yellowish brown with pale orange inside. The main rhizome measures 1 – 3 inches in length and about 1 inch in diameter. Harvesters, gather these rhizomes annually and reseed the same, for the next season.
Where Does Turmeric Come From?
I was very curious to research and find out where does turmeric come from. As I mentioned earlier, turmeric comes as the rhizome of Curcuma Longa, a herbaceous perennial plant. India discovered and started using turmeric before anyone else.
To your surprise, India produces 80% of Turmeric in the world and also is its highest consumer. Indian Turmeric is considered to be the best in the world. Erode, a city in South India, is the largest producer of Turmeric in the world and also the most important place for trading Turmeric. It is also known as “Yellow City” and “Turmeric City” because of this reason.
The use of Turmeric in India dates back to 4000 years. It reached China in 700 AD, East Africa by 800 AD and to the rest of the world, in the eighteenth century.
What Does Turmeric Taste Like?
I love the taste of turmeric that it imparts to my food. It is slightly bitter when eaten raw.Along with being bitter, it also has a peppery flavor to it. Also, it tastes somewhat similar to ginger.It has a pleasing aroma, and when added to food, it makes your preparations deliciously fragrant.When you taste the raw powder of ginger, you hardly will be able to eat it because it will taste too bitter.
When mixed with honey or any other ingredient, it enhances the taste.I have also tried to prepare turmeric slices with vinegar and a pinch of salt; it tastes appetizing.
You can look for more details in the recipe section here, later.
Turmeric is like a spice that you can add to your food and gift it some irresistible flavor.
No doubt, it is not very pleasing to consume the raw turmeric powder, but when cooked with other things, it tastes marvelous.
What is the Composition of Turmeric?
You must be wondering how Turmeric is so beneficial to health, isn’t it? To make that clear to you, I will let you know what makes Turmeric so healthy. It is composed of a lot of nutrients; details are below.
There are more than 100 components that are isolated from this medicinal herb. However, the main component of this root is a volatile oil. It contains Turmerone and coloring agents called Curcuminoids.
- Curcuminoids are found to comprise of Curcumin Demethoxycurcumin, Dihydrocurcumin, and 5’- Methoxycurcumin, which are natural antioxidants. Curcumin is anti – inflammatory and found to have anti – viral properties as well.
- The components responsible for the aroma of turmeric are Turmerone, Arturmerone, and Zingiberene
- Vitamins: A, C, E, B1, B2, B3
- Minerals: Calcium, Phosphorous, Iron, Manganese, Chromium, Zinc, Potassium, Selenium
- Carotenoids, Carotenes, and Xanthophylls indicated by yellow, orange and red colors are also present. They either convert into Vitamin A or provide immunity by combating with free radicals.
- Starch and Protein – Resin, a fatty substance found in the roots, responsible for reducing pain and inflammation.
- COX – 2 inhibitors and Cineole – Each constituent individually has many benefits as far as health is concerned although they work synergistically. This makes the whole herb a bundle of health benefits.
Many scientists believe that most of the nutrients and health benefits come from the essential oil found in Turmeric and so, it is very necessary to check the nutrient contents of Turmeric powder.
There are various kinds of the powder; some are just for the flavor, and some provide health benefits as well.
What is Turmeric Good For?
Indian and Chinese people have used turmeric for its anti – inflammatory properties and healing abilities. Some of the benefits even I have experienced, such as, it boosts immunity, heals wounds and helps in digestion.
But, apart from all these, this aromatic herb has a lot more crucial benefits to focus upon. They range from cancer protection to skin protection. I have made a detailed list for you to refer, take a look:
1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
If you are suffering from indigestion, turmeric can very much come to your rescue. But, more than just that if you are suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Turmeric can relieve your discomfort.
While the exact mechanism is not known, scientists believe that the curcumin component in Turmeric is responsible for this. Not only it’s anti – oxidant property, but also, the inhibition of one major cellular inflammatory agent known as NF-Kappa – B, is helpful in IBD.
The Good thing is, not a huge amount of Turmeric is needed for the action to take place. You can consume as low as 0.25% concentration of curcumin in Turmeric and see the benefits.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
In the case of Rheumatoid Arthritis as well, curcumin exerts potential anti – inflammatory benefits. Curcumin destroys the free radicals that travel through the body and damage healthy cells and cell membranes.
As an anti – oxidant, curcumin neutralizes these free radicals. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the free radicals are pretty much responsible for damaging the joints. Turmeric protects inflammation and swelling of joints.
If you have pain and inflammation in your joints or if you find your joints swollen, you can try adding and consuming Turmeric in your diet and see the benefits for yourself.
3. Cystic Fibrosis
To tell you how Turmeric helps in reducing the effects of Cystic Fibrosis, I will explain to you what is Cystic Fibrosis first. It is a disease where there is a thick layer of the mucous membrane formed in the lungs.
This disease is fatal, and also this condition can give rise to further abnormalities and can invite infections easily. But, the magical yellowish orange herb, Turmeric, can help in this situation too! Curcumin has found to be effective against this disease.
It is a researched and established fact that Cystic Fibrosis happens due to a mutation in the genes responsible for coding CFTR protein. This protein is essential for moving to the cell membrane and creating channels for the Chloride ions to leave the cell.
This happens smoothly when CFTR is properly shaped. But, due to a mutation in the genes, this protein gets deformed in shape. The result of this deformity is, it can be no more travel to the cell’s surface and create a channel for chloride ions.
Because chloride ions get deposited in the cells, mucus is produced. Curcumin can correct the expression of genes and also, it is found to inhibit Calcium and thus, letting CFTR protein to go to exit the cell via Calcium channel. It prevents the mucous build up.
4. Cancer Prevention
The anti – oxidant properties of Curcumin can inhibit the free radicals from damaging cellular DNA. It is one of the major causes of mutation that is protected by Turmeric. Curcumin also helps the body to destroy mutated cancerous cells and discard from the body.
One of the ways it does this is by inhibiting the protein formation required for cancerous cell growth and secondly, it also prevents the blood circulation to happen where the cancer cells are growing, thus, making them dead.
Scientists have found Curcumin to be very effective against Colon Cancer, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer and Leukaemia. But, how does Curcumin prevent against all this?
For the cells to replicate, there is a process called replication to happen. For this, transcription of the cells is necessary. Curcumin inhibits the transcription of cells and puts the switch off, for cells to grown and proliferate.
Researchers also believe that Curcumin together with Cauliflower can significantly prevent colon cancer. The cruciferous vegetables like Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli, etc., contain phenethyl isothiocyanate which inhibits the cancer cell growth and spread.
5. Improves Liver Function
Curcumin improves liver function by helping it in the detoxification. It elevates the levels of two very crucial liver detoxification enzymes called UDP-glucuronosyl transferase and glutathione-S-transferase.
Curcumin is also found to be a very efficient COX – 2, inhibitor. COX – 2 is an inflammatory chemical Cyclooxygenase – 2.
6. Prevention Against Heart Attack
As you all know, the deposition of cholesterol in the blood vessels causes a heart attack. Cholesterol gets deposited in the walls due to oxidation. Curcumin is found to be effective in preventing the oxidation of Cholesterol.
Another very important component of Turmeric is Vitamin B6. It is required to keep the Homocysteine levels in control. Increased levels of Homocysteine can also cause damage to the blood vessels. Having said that, I will also want you to know that increased level of Vitamin B6 is also dangerous and harmful.
7. Lowering Cholesterol
Cholesterol is bad for health. But, there are two kinds of Cholesterol. One is good cholesterol, and one is bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol is not bad for health, but bad cholesterol is.
I will clarify good and bad cholesterol for better understanding. Good cholesterol is High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), and bad cholesterol is Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL). Cholesterol is carried in the blood attached to these proteins.
Now, LDL cholesterol is taken up by the liver by LDL receptors and thus, lowering its levels in the blood. Curcumin, found in Turmeric makes the liver cells to produce more and more mRNA to build receptors for LDL, which is bad cholesterol.
As the number of receptors will be more, more LDL will be taken away from the blood. I try to incorporate turmeric or turmeric powder in my daily diet. I will tell you easy ways to consume turmeric daily, in the recipes section here.
8. Alzheimer’s Disease
Curcumin is effective in preventing many neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. While the whole mechanism is not very clear to the scientists and researchers, there are two mechanisms that are believed to be present.
Nerves are protected with a sheath called Myelin sheath. Alzheimer’s disease happens when this sheath is damaged or destroyed. So, one mechanism is curcumin prevents the damage of Myelin sheath. This results in slower degeneration during Alzheimer’s disease.
Secondly, in Alzheimer’s disease, there are protein plaques that are formed between the nerves. This inhibits the nerve signaling. These plaques are essentially the broken down protein fragments called Amyloid – B.
In the healthy brain, these are discarded. But, in Alzheimer’s, these keep aggregating between the nerves and block them. Curcumin, binds with Amyloid – B fragments and prevents further aggregation. This is how it prevents and slows down the degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Treatment of Acne
Turmeric demonstrates some unique anti – bacterial and anti – inflammatory properties. Infections due to bacteria majorly cause acne. I know how desperately you want to get rid of those ugly acnes on your skin!
For that, just take one tablespoon of turmeric powder or take dry turmeric and make a paste of it with water. Apply that paste to your skin which is affected by acne. Leave it for 10 minutes and then rinse with lukewarm water. It will combat with the bacteria and will prevent it from spreading elsewhere.
For more information about turmeric treatment for acne read this article from The Beauty Reel.
10. Treatment for Dry and Oily Skin
You can treat your extra dry or extra oily skin also easily, with turmeric. For oily skin, take a pinch of turmeric powder, mix it with one spoon of sandalwood powder and three spoons of orange juice. Apply the paste all over your face and rinse it after 10 – 15 minutes.
For dry skin, you can take one egg white, rose water, turmeric powder and a little bit of olive oil. Apply the whole paste to your face and see the glowing skin that you get after rinsing!
11. Reduce Wrinkles
You can significantly reduce the fine lines on your skin that make you look aged. Take turmeric powder and mix it with milk. Don’t make it too thick. Apply the whole thing to your face daily for 15 minutes and rinse.
It will reduce the appearance of wrinkles on your skin.
12. Soothes Burns and Heals Wounds
For minor burns, you can get relief in no time with applying turmeric and aloe vera gel. Thanks to the anti – septic properties of curcumin in turmeric!
Also, if you get minor cuts and bruises, you can apply turmeric powder to the wound. It also helps coagulate the blood and stop it from flowing over the wound. These are some of the first aids you can try during mine injuries, but never in the case of any major injury or ailment.
13. Treats Dandruff and Prevents Hair Loss
Get rid of your dandruff naturally by applying turmeric with olive oil. Like you apply oil to your scalp, do it the same way. Just mix it with turmeric. Let it be there for at least 15 – 30 minutes and then wash it with a mild shampoo.
This will reduce dandruff and also prevent hair loss.
14. Boosts Immunity
By now, it must be very evident to you that turmeric is an anti – inflammatory agent and thus, protects against diseases as well. So, one of the most important functions of this herb is to boost your immunity.
15. Weight Loss
Turmeric health benefits also include weight loss. Let me get into the details of it as I am sure, many of you want to know this one.
Turmeric is proven to be one of the best natural herbs that can help you beat the skin disease eczema. Checkout this post of mine for turmeric recipes for eczema.