In today’s blog, I’m going to talk briefly about turmeric, its main actions and its clinical uses. Turmeric, particularly its active constituent, curcumin, has become a popular supplement in our western world, for inflammatory concerns, however, turmeric has been long used for medicinal purposes, and its discovery dates back to 2500BC. It was traditionally used to colour french robes a mustard colour and also the robes of hindu priest, before both Indian and Chinese Traditional Medicine therapies began to use turmeric for the treatment of inflammatory and digestive disorders. I’ve written this out in a convenient and easy to read fact sheet format.
Botanical Name: Curcuma Longa
Active Constituents: Curcumin. This is a collective description for a group of phenolic compounds called curcuminoids. It also contains Essential Oils, 1.5-3% total mass, along with resins and starches/fibres.
Part Used: Root (Rhizone)
Demonstrated to modulate over 150 different physiological pathways in the body.
Anti-oxidant: Scavenges free radicals, enhances the activity of endogenous antioxidants such as glutathione peroxidase. Induces Phase II detox pathways, more potent than Vitamin C. Reduces inflammation and protects the cells from oxidative damage.
- Hepaprotective, which means it protects the liver from chemical induced damage.
- Antispasmodic, meaning it relieves spasms within the gastrointestinal tract.
- Cholagogue. Main action in stimulating bile form the gall bladder to help break down fats in the body.
- Hypolipid. Aids in protection against oxidative damage from crystallise plaques in the arteries. This is why it may be benefically in Cardiovascular disease to help lower LDL cholesterol (known as the ‘bad’ type) and reduce total cholesterol plasma levels.
Scientifically Proven Alzheimers Fighter.
Alzheimers is characterised by a build-up of amyloid beta plaques (a tangle to protein fibres) in the brain. The active form of Vitamin D activates type I macrophages and churchmen activates type II, to help protect further damage from the disease.
Cancer-Preventative: Inhibits invasion, proliferation (rapid-growing) and metastasis (spread) of various cancers.
Immunomodulation: This relates to the immune system and its ability to fight foreign invaders that attack the body on a daily basis. Turmeric has shown to increase White Blood Cell production, and circulating antibodies.
Clinical Uses: In practice, varies medical practitioner can therapeutically use turmeric and its concentrate, curcumin, for concerns such as cancer, psoriasis, peptic ulcersm dementia, Rheumatoid arthritis, Auto-immune disorders, Carodivascular disease, liver disease and diabetes.
Actions Overview: Anti-oxidant, Carminitive, Anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, hypolipidaemic,anti-ulcerative, hepatoprotective, immune enhacing and chemoprotective.
Clinical Indications: Suffers of Oestoarthritis/Rheumatoid Arthritis, Cancer patients, dyspepsia, liver insufficiency, alzheimer patients, high cholesterol and peptic ulcers.
Caution: Relatively safe to use, however, caution needs to be taken when prescribing for patient with gallstones, and anti-platelet medications, due to turmeric increasing these areas of metabolism within the body.
Dosage: 4-10gram daily in divided doses (dried whole root). This can be incorporated into herbal teas, curries or stews. With supplementation, generally its active constituent curcumin, it can be found upwards of 300mg.
My final thoughts: As a Whole Food Nutritionist and an avid reader of current/past scientific research studies, I encourage the use of turmeric in your diet, rather than curcumin, in supplementation form. This is due to turmeric containing the addition of Essential Oils and Resins/fibres, found within the original plant material, that can provide exceptional anti-inflammatory and into-oxidant benefits that unfortunately curcumin cannot live up to in terms of proven medicinal therapies. Turmeric has been used as a food accessory nutrient for thousands of years, and the benefits have long been know. It’s only recently that we have been able to extract the curcuminoid compounds form the plant materials for use in supplemental forms of therapies.
As much as I have seen these supplements benefits clients, it is no match to adding turmeric into the diet, along with other healing herbs such as garlic, ginger, parsley, thyme and coriander. These herbs are not only safe to use in our diet, they can add so much flavour and depth to our cooking at home, without the need to adding sugars or salts to find a suitable flavour.
I hope your’ve been able to increase your current knowledge on turmeric and curcumin from this fact sheet. I encourage you to always seek medical advice before starting a new supplementation, as these can have cautions, interactions, warnings and contra-indications just a prescription medications do.
And As Always
Tegan- Nutriton Nourishment