Turmeric has been used in cooking for thousand of years but the wisdom behind Indian cuisine was not just flavour related but also medicinal. Known for it’s potent anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is a valuable tool for health. With so much hype out there we need to separate the fact from the fiction so lets look at some of the science behind this potent “drug”
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, this is the anti-inflammatory agent. It’s benefits according to scientific findings are it’s ability to benefit those suffering with pain and age related arthritis. Studies show a significant reduction of symptoms.
The scientific community is looking into possible benefits for alzheimer’s prevention. Currently in the experimental data stage, we are seeing results show that curcumin can destroy the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain associated with alzheimer’s.
A newer discover is turmerics ability to boost Omega 3’s. The most biologically active Omega 3’s are EPA and DHA, as we have all heard these are highly concentrated in fish. I don't recommend fish oil in my own practice as the waters are now heavily polluted due to radiation, mercury and heavy metal content. This meant looking into other options for my clinical practice which is how I came across this information.
Omega 3’s need to be converted by the body into the more usable form EPA, DHA. Spa is essential for heart health and DHA is a key building block for brain health with links to cognitive function and depression. Sure you cold get Omega 3’s from plant sources, unfortunelty our bodies are only equipped to covert this type into very low percentages (5% to EPA and 1% for DHA) Here is where turmeric comes into play. It boosts plant conversion of DHA by about 50%. This is great news for vegetarians.
What else is it good for? Here is a list:
Digestion, gal bladder and liver - ulcers, diverticulitis, flatulence, leaky gut.
Because turmeric is a warming herb, it promotes digestive secretions. It soothes the digestive tract due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties and helps to relieve gas. This is why it has been used for diverticulitis, colitis and IBS. This is also why it has been used for ulcers as it tones the surface of the ulceration, decreases inflammation, stops the bleeding, and helps to prevent infection. What is amazing is that due to it’s astringent qualities, turmeric is able to tighten and tone the digestive tract. This means the junctures go back to being tight which is critical, otherwise you have a condition known as leaky gut.
If you suffer from gallstones it is recommended to avoid turmeric, however if you are looking to PREVENT gallstones then turmeric is a good option.
Turmeric is a cholagogue, that means it is a herb that promotes bile secretion from the gallbladder and liver. Bile is essential to the digestive process, especially in the digestion of fats. Using turmeric regularly can help our liver process metabolic waste, and protect us from carcinogens like cigarette smoke and other environmental toxins.
With regards to our gut, turmeric also helps support a healthy intestinal flora, aiding in healthy digestion to create a healthy immune system and can help in some cases where yeast infections or candida overgrowth represent.
Heart Health - high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol
Turmeric has been shown to normalize cholesterol levels. Studies show that turmeric reduces blood clotting (acts as a blood thinner), increases circulation, and decreases high blood pressure.
Immune support - Cancer, colds, flu, bronchitis
According to the study of angiogenesis, we can starve cancer. Researchers are showing how turmeric can not only prevent specific types of cancer but also stop cancer from metastasizing.
With regards to type 1 diabetes, turmeric has been shown to lower blood sugar and increase glucose metabolism.
Helping to move stagnant blood and reduce blood clots, turmeric works as an antispasmodic on smooth muscle tissue. This helps to relieve pain associated with cramping. It's much more beneficial than taking an ibuprofen with all the contraindications that come with it.
With turmeric you want to make sure to add 3% black (fresh ground) pepper. You want to grind it fresh as to preserve the oils found on the outside of the pepper corn. Black pepper improves the bioavailability of turmeric, making smaller doses more effective.
Dosage: For adults the official recommendation has been up to 1.5 g. daily, which can be divided overt to three doses. It amounts to approx. one slightly rounded tsp.
Therapeutic doses are slightly higher coming in at 2-3 g. daily. Please read cautions at the end of the article. For those who prefer the capsule form I caution you as it can cause some upset to the stomach if used long term, although some use turmeric to sooth stomach upset. I recommend this as short term therapeutic treatment.
My favourite is to add it to my morning routine in the form of turmeric bombs. At a dose of 1g. daily, I mix it with the pepper and a healthy fat such as coconut oil, throw in some quercetin for its ability to block the enzyme which stops turmeric from working it's magic and a little honey to help out with the taste for those who don't like the bitterness.. This causes an even higher absorption rate (which is why the dosage is less than the capsules) and is much friendlier to you stomach.
Turmeric is used to lower blood sugar, which could be an issue for diabetes who are on medication for their condition, also hypoglycemics. Please take care when introducing into your regime. You may wish to consult with your healthcare practitioner to have your medication dosage altered.
Turmeric also lowers blood pressure in high doses. If you are taking a lower dose you may not notice, in higher doses however I advise caution. If you are taking other herbs that posses these same properties, I would avoid taking them together. Same is to be said for medications such as antihypertensives that artificially lower blood pressure.
Turmeric lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises HDL (good cholesterol). It will also boost the effect of pharmaceutical cholesterol lowering drugs which may not be a good idea. I recommend speaking to your healthcare provider and altering the dosage.
Turmeric is a blood thinner and is not advised to be consumed prior to any surgery, in conjunction with chemical blood thinners such as coumadin, warfarin, clopidogrel and aspirin. If taking these do not ingest turmeric in any form unless extremely low doses. If looking to use for it’s medicinal properties in higher doses I suggest speaking with a trained practitioner and lowering the chemical dose while increasing the turmeric dose. Please seek the advice of your healthcare provider.
For those suffering with gall bladder issues or gall stones you may need to avoid therapeutic dosage as turmeric increases bile production.
High doses may stimulate uterine contractions and menstrual flow, while treatment for cramping works well, it is not advised to take while pregnant or nursing.
Turmeric and weight loss
Fat burning is critical to weight loss, since the liver is the organ which is essential for fat burning we want to make sure it is taken care of. When the liver becomes damaged, the detoxification process is reduced.
Turmeric helps to detoxify the liver and protect against cell damage caused by environmental factors, pollutants etc. Since high cholesterol causes plaque build up leading to heart disease, atherosclerosis and weight gain, consuming turmeric will help by lowering cholesterol.
Thermogenesis is a process where fat is burned by the central nervous system (in order to maintain body temperature). Turmeric is able to attach to capsaicin receptors and increase thermogenesis rates which leads to greater fat burning and weight loss.
In studies it was shown that those consuming a diet high in fat with curcumin (turmeric) reduced the total body weight and fat compared to the group fed high fat without the turmeric supplementation. Accidentally the group with the turmeric also had lower triglycerides, fatty acid, blood glucose, liver fat and blood cholesterol levels.
Whats in a turmeric bomb
For Turmeric bombs I have added the following for maximum bioavailability:
- Quercetin, a bioflavenoid, inhibits an enzyme that decreases the activity of curcumin.
- Black pepper contains the potent alkaloid piperine, which has been shown to increase the bio-availability of curcumin up to 150%.
- Fatty acids have been shown to increase the bioavailability of turmeric.
I recommend taking quercetin with the turmeric bombs - Quercetin occurs naturally in many foods from nature. Apples are a major source of quercetin due to their wide consumption. Other common foods containing quercetin include berries, parsley, capers, buckwheat, onions and peppers. Although the quercetin content, as shown below, is relatively small, it is the critical flavonoid found in these foods, making them “superfoods”. A good chart can be found here http://www.qforce.com/index.php/power-of-quercetin-sources
1-2 turmeric bombs is sufficient per day, play around with the dosage to see what your body requires. Each “bomb” contains 500 mg turmeric.