If you like to eat curries, chances are that you’re eating your fair share of the spice turmeric. Bitter and warm, turmeric root gives curries and other Asian dishes their bright yellow color. Because it contains the chemical curcumin, turmeric is also used as a healing herb. So beyond being the spice behind a number of delicious dishes, the curcumin in turmeric has been found to have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in your body. Some of the health benefits of turmeric include:
- It can help reduce pain and improve function if you have osteoarthritis of the knee. In fact, turmeric may work as well as ibuprofen in alleviating arthritis pain. Also, some early research is finding that it may also help the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, too, such as pain, stiffness, functionality, and swelling.
- Turmeric can reduce high levels of cholesterol and other lipids (fats) in your blood. Most notably, it has been found to lower triglycerides, a kind of fat that when elevated can increase your risk for hardening of the arteries, stroke, and heart disease. Scientists have also found that turmeric can help reduce the buildup of fat in people who have fatty liver disease not caused by alcohol use.
- Got Hay Fever? If so, taking turmeric may help reduce those annoying symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, itching, and nasal congestion.
- Taking turmeric may help turn your depression around. Research shows that taking curcumin, the active chemical in turmeric can help further reduce depressive symptoms in people who are taking already taking an antidepressant medication.
- Your digestion may also benefit from a daily dose of turmeric. Scientists are beginning to discover that the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric can be helpful in treating Crohn’s disease, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBD).
- As a mouthwash, turmeric can improve your oral health, too. It can help with gingivitis (a kind of gum disease), mouth sores from lichen planus, and inflammation in your mouth caused by radiation treatments for certain kinds of cancer.
How should you take turmeric?
If you don’t get much turmeric in your regular diet, a supplement of 500 mg a day is a good place to start. Turmeric is also a Chinese herb that’s used to stimulate blood flow and relieve pain, and is used in many formulas. It’s important to know that turmeric is an herb that has poor bioavailability, which means it’s not well absorbed by your body. However, combining it with other herbs, such as piperine (black pepper) can increase its bioavailability by up to 2000%. If you’d like to know more about herbal medicine or supplementing your diet with turmeric, contact us. We’d love to tell you more!
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.