Could you use a little spice in your life? Research indicates that spice may be just what the doctor orders! While studies are still in their infancy, evidence suggests that turmeric offers some amazing health benefits.
What Is Turmeric?
If you’re a fan of Indian food, chances are good that you’ve already tried this subtle flavor enhancer. Turmeric is a spice belonging to the ginger family, and it’s what gives curry its yellowish hue. While it’s long been used in Eastern medicine traditions, turmeric has recently attracted the attention of Western researchers because of its active ingredient, curcumin. Curcumin is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, meaning that it can reduce uncomfortable swelling and prevent cell damage. Essentially, turmeric is a potential powerhouse, worthy of adding to your spice rack.
The Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric has been used to treat a number of health conditions including liver problems, Crohn’s disease, colds, menstrual issues, bladder inflammation, skin conditions, and even some cancers. While the spice’s effectiveness at treating these issues is still being studied, turmeric has been shown to offer the following health benefits:
- Reduces Pain and Inflammation.
There are a number of studies showing that turmeric can help people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, turmeric has been shown to minimize pain, improve joint function, and reduce swelling. In fact, one small study indicated that curcumin was more effective at treating pain and swelling than a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
- Aids with Indigestion.
Have an upset stomach? Turmeric may be able to help; a double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that the spice reduces bloating and gas discomfort. In Germany—where herbs are commonly prescribed to treat medical conditions—turmeric has been approved for digestive problems.
- Lowers the Risk of Diabetes.
In 2012, researchers conducted a study of 240 patients who had been diagnosed with prediabetes. Half of the patients were randomly selected to receive a placebo, and the other half were given curcumin capsules. After 9 months, 16.4% of patients who received the placebo were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, while none of the patients taking curcumin developed the condition. The study concluded that curcumin may help prevent type 2 diabetes in people who have already been diagnosed with prediabetes.
The Take-Away on Turmeric
The initial research on turmeric is encouraging. While studies are still being done on its effectiveness at treating cancer and certain other conditions, the spice does offer some clear health benefits. And fortunately, turmeric—when ingested in food—is considered safe for most people.
However, prior to taking a turmeric supplement, we recommend that you consult with your doctor first. Turmeric in higher doses can lower blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, and slow blood clotting. While some of those effects may sound beneficial, they can create problems for people with certain conditions or who are on blood-thinning medications.
While you don’t want to race to buy a turmeric supplement before speaking to your physician, it’s much easier than you think to incorporate this spice into your diet. For instance, you can prepare a curry, add it to salad dressing or dips, saute it with vegetables, drink it in tea, or sprinkle it into egg salad for a kick. Not only is turmeric beneficial for your health, but it also provides a delicious flavor, bright color, and appealing aroma to your meals. What a great—and tasty—way to add a little spice to your life!