7 Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin

Curcuma longa, commonly referred to as turmeric in layman's terms, is known as the bright yellow, flavor-filled spice that is primarily cultivated from the roots of a flowering plant found in India and other parts of Southeast Asia. The primary active component of turmeric is curcumin, which is what gives turmeric its characteristic yellow color. Actually, you can also give credit to curcumin for most of turmeric's potential health benefits. Like many spices, turmeric has a long history of use in traditional medicine possibly making it the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. Keep reading to find out 7 health benefits of this magical spice.

1. Curcumin is an Anti-Inflammatory

Inflammation is incredibly important in helping your body fight foreign invaders and repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria, could easily take over your body and even kill you in worst case scenarios. One of turmeric's main claims to fame is that it's commonly used to fight inflammation, mostly thanks to the curcumin found in it. In fact, the right dose of curcumin may be as effective as common anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil and aspirin, without the side effects. Chronic inflammation contributes to many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and various degenerative conditions. If you want to experience the full effects, you will need a supplement that contains significant amount of curcumin as it would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the spice in your foods. Consult your local health care practitioner for more detailed information on doses if this interests you.

2. Curcumin May Protect Against Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world. The good news is there are many things you can do to prevent and protect yourself from being a part of that scary statistic. Curcumin may help reverse many steps in heart disease by improving the function and health of the thin membrane that covers the inside of the heart and blood vessels, known as the endothelium. It has even been suggested that curcumin is as effective as exercise if taken in the correct doses. Although more research is needed to determine if curcumin is an effective long-term strategy for people with heart disease, there is nothing wrong with protecting yourself from becoming a heart disease statistic if you can.

3. Turmeric May Prevent Cancer

Cancer develops when the body's normal control mechanism stops working. This means old cells do not die and instead grow out of control forming new, abnormal cells. These extra cells may form a mass of tissue, called a tumor. As inflammation is linked to tumor growth, anti-inflammatory compounds, such as curcumin, may play a role in treating and preventing a variety of cancer types by possibly slowing the spread of tumor cells and may even prevent the tumors from forming in the first place. Curcumin may do this by disrupting the formation of cancerous cells at various stages in the cell cycle, interfering with cell signaling pathways and even causing those cancerous cells to die. Even though curcumin is nowhere near a cure to cancer, the benefits that come from it sure are worth it.

4. Turmeric May Play a Role in Treating Depression

Curcumin has shown some possible promise in aiding the treatment of depression thanks to its ability to boost levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). There is also some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Although curcumin is not guaranteed to work as well as standard anti-depression medications and should not be used to replace them, it is still a simple way to do whatever you can to feel better.

5. Turmeric May Help Delay or Reverse Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and it's the leading cause of dementia. Like depression, Alzheimer's is associated with lower levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Turmeric increases levels of BDNF which may help delay brain degeneration. Although more research is needed to confirm the full effectiveness of turmeric on common brain diseases, there is nothing wrong with adding it to your supplement routine if your doctor feels it will be of benefit to you.

6. Curcumin May Help Treat or Prevent Diabetes

Scientists believe that curcumin may help manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and might also protect against the development of diabetes. Curcumin has shown to suppress the activities of white blood cells that cause inflammation and this could potentially slow down many complications of diabetes in which inflammation plays a role. Curcumin also improves insulin function by reducing insulin resistance by helping insulin get into cells. Although it is obviously not a cure for diabetes and you must maintain your diabetic management as prescribed by your health care practitioner, it is still fascinating to know the power this spice contains and any preventative steps are positive when it comes to good health and longevity.

7. Curcumin May Help Delay Aging

If your goal is to have healthier, younger looking skin, than turmeric may be something to add to your anti-aging routine. It is well known that inflammation plays a key role in aging. Due to turmeric's reputation for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, it can help address a number of skin conditions and slow down the ageing process by suppressing age-related inflammatory conditions. Research has shown that curcumin activates certain proteins which may help delay cellular damage and promote longevity. If you are interested in these benefits, you can increase your curcumin intake by using turmeric in recipes or taking curcumin supplements as directed by a health care practitioner.