Turmeric is known for its rich, yellow color and its myriad of culinary uses. The old-world spice has been coveted for centuries, with evidence indicating that it may have even been part of ancient Chinese medicine a thousand years ago.
Recently, however, this traditional culinary staple is gaining recognition for its amazing health benefits. Some 7,000 studies have been conducted, and much of the research shows that turmeric is a powerful healing agent with a wide variety of applications. Antibacterial, antimutagenic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties are just some of the things that make turmeric so special. It’s also loaded with micronutrients like vitamins C, E and K, and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium.
Research demonstrates the power of turmeric
Several studies have shown that turmeric even has the ability to help fight against certain types of cancer. For example, a 2015 review published by the journal Molecules states that curcumin — a key component of turmeric — can inhibit the initiation, progression and metastasis of a number of different kinds of tumors. The review authors also note that curcumin halts disease progression by inducing apoptosis, or cell death. The team notes that at the time their review was completed, some 6,850 studies of turmeric had been published, noting that many of these were indicative of the spice’s potential health benefits.
In their conclusion, the authors write, “A plethora of in vitro and in vivo research together with clinical trials conducted over the past few decades substantiate the potential of curcumin as an anti-cancer agent.” The team notes that curcumin is limited by its bioavailability, but states that regardless of potential draw backs, curcumin is a “safe and promising molecule for the prevention and therapy of not only cancer but also other inflammation-driven diseases.”
Another recent study, also published in 2015, was indicative of curcumin’s anti-cancer effects. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Emory University’s Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, and was published by the joural, PLOS One. The team sought to investigate how curcumin exacts its apoptosis-inducing effects in cancer cell lines of the upper aerodigestive tract, which refers to the lungs and bronchus, larynx, pharynx and oral cavity. After treating cancerous tissue samples with curcumin, the team examined the effects. From their findings, the team surmised that curcumin’s apoptosis-inducing effects were prompted by its ability to simultaneously turn on a tumor-suppressor gene and down-regulated anti-apoptotic proteins.
Essentially, this means that their data indicate curcumin turns on cancer suppression, and turns off the production of proteins that prevent cell death. Together, these effects result in cancer cell apoptosis.
Other health benefits
Fighting cancer, of course, is not the only benefit that turmeric can provide — though it surely is an impressive one. For example, a randomized double-blind, placebo controlled study found that turmeric supplements could help support a more balanced mood. The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, found that just eight weeks of turmeric supplementation boosted participants’ scores on depression and anxiety tests. All of the participants in the turmeric group exhibited substantial improvement compared to the placebo group.
Studies have also indicated that turmeric can help to relieve physical discomfort, too. A 4-week study published in the Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging found that turmeric worked as well as ibuprofen at relieving osteoarthritis pain — and that it worked even better than the pharmaceutical when it came to relieving joint stiffness. A previous study, published in 2011, also found that turmeric helped to relieve pain. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Surgical Endoscopy found that turmeric supplements relieved post-operative discomfort in gallbladder surgery patients better than placebo. In 3-week intervals, patients taking the supplement reported significantly less pain and discomfort than the placebo patients.
Turmeric has many other health benefits. It has been used to promote wound healing, soothe tissue irritation, relieve stomach aches, and boost heart health. Turmeric is truly a miraculous substance that continues to astound researchers across the globe.
Researched and written by Vicki Batts for Natural News, January 23, 2017.
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