We often think of inflammation in terms of an injury, like a sprained ankle or swollen joints as seen in arthritis – but did you know that chronic inflammation is also present in health conditions like Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS), Alzheimer’s, chronic stiffness, eczema, asthma, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)…you name it, it probably involves inflammation. Reduce inflammation and you’re well in your way to healing your body. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years, both as a food and as a medicine. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and has very strong antioxidant properties, which can help many different health conditions.
1. Turmeric contains active compounds with powerful medicinal properties - called Curcumin.
These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is Curcumin.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. However, the curcumin content of the turmeric found in your spice rack is not that high… it’s around 0.1% - so you need to ensure you’re using the best quality, which is generally found in good quality supplements that contain around 95-98% Curcuminoids.Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. Look for a Turmeric supplement that contains BioPiperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
2. Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is incredibly important. It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us. Although acute (short-term) inflammation is beneficial, it can become a major problem when it is chronic (long-term) and inappropriately deployed against the body’s own tissues. (1) It is now believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions particularly those affecting the musculoskeletal system such as Osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Overuse Syndromes (eg tendonitis, bursitis), muscular strains and even lower back pain. Anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases and lucky for us it turns out that curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory. (2, 3, 4).
3. Dramatically increases the antioxidant capacity of the body
Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases. It involves free radicals, which cause damage to the tissue in our bodies.
Curcumin happens to be a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure. (5). Curcumin provides high levels of antioxidant protection – 13 times higher than Blueberries
4. Curcumin leads to various improvements that can lower your risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world. It has been studied for many decades and researchers have learnt a lot about why it happens. It turns out that heart disease is incredibly complicated and there are various things that contribute to it. Curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process. Perhaps the main benefit of curcumin when it comes to heart disease, is improving the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. It is well known that endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease and involves an inability of the endothelium to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and various other factors. Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function but curcumin also reduces inflammation and oxidation which are also important in heart disease. (6, 7)
5. Can it help prevent cancer?
Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells. There are many different forms of cancer, but they do have several commonalities, some of which appear to be affected by curcumin supplementation. Researchers have been studying curcumin as a beneficial herb in cancer treatment. It can affect cancer growth, development and spread at the molecular level and has shown that it may help reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis (spread of cancer), as well as contributing to the death of cancerous cells. (8)
6. Curcumin may be useful in lowering the risk of brain diseases
Interestingly, curcumin can increase brain levels of Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), a type of growth hormone that functions in the brain. Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of this hormone. This may be effective in delaying, or even reversing, many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function and could even help improve your memory.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia. There may be good news on the horizon, because curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. It is known that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. As we know, curcumin has beneficial effects on both and one key feature of Alzheimer’s disease is a build-up of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques. It is thought that curcumin may help clear these plaques. (9, 10, 11)
7. Arthritis patients respond very well to curcumin supplementation
Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries. There are several different types, but most involve some sort of inflammation in the joints. Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that it could help with arthritis. (12, 13)
8. Anti-microbial properties
Turmeric has also been found to have powerful antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi and viruses including Candida albicans and even Giardia by inhibiting parasite growth and their ability of stick to mucosa lining (14)
9. Curcumin can be effective for a range of Gastrointestinal disorders
Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties which help all aspects of inflammatory diseases affecting the bowels including Diverticular disease, Irritable bowel (IBS), Inflammatory bowel disease – (Crohns, Ulcerative colitis), Dyspepsia – (heartburn, nausea, burping), and Peptic ulcer disease because it helps to increase mucous production and protects the stomach lining. Although Irritable bowel syndrome does not have inflammation turmeric has carminative properties which relieves flatulence and soothes intestinal spasm and pain by relaxing intestinal muscles and sphincters. (15, 16)
10. Great digestive and liver tonic
Traditionally used to support liver function and digestive problems since ancient times because it helps increase bile flow from the gallbladder into the intestines which is essential for the breakdown of dietary fats. It also enhances liver detoxification by supporting phase 2 detoxification within the liver and enhancing the production and activity of glutathione; a potent antioxidant. (17)
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