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The herb known botanically as Curcuma longa is known as Turmeric when used as a culinary spice or medicinal herb. Turmeric is prepared from the powdered rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant (the rhizome is part of the stem that grows underground). Turmeric’s potency and versatility as a medicinal herb has attracted a great deal of research attention, shedding light on a very diverse range of health-benefits. One would be hard-pressed to find another, single herb that offers so many benefits in and of itself. Among the principal active ingredients in turmeric are compounds known as curcuminoids. Most turmeric supplements are extracts standardized for consistent, high levels of curcuminoids which are referred to collectively as curcumin.
Long before modern scientists confirmed the health benefits of turmeric, the herb had been employed in both the Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medical systems for centuries, and it remains popular to this day. In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, turmeric is used for a very wide range of ailments including various types of pain, inflammation, cardiac, liver and reproductive problems.
Among curcumin's beneficial properties are its role as a potent antioxidant.1 One of the ways curcumin is thought to benefit painful joints and other tissues is via this antioxidant function. Curcumin derives its anti-inflammatory properties from its ability to affect enzymes that initiate and sustain inflammation. One of the most sensitive systems in the body with respect to inflammation is the cardiovascular system. Here, turmeric provides the additional benefit of inhibiting platelet aggregation, a process that can lead to harmful blood clots or strokes.2,3 Turmeric is also used for certain types of digestive disorders. Curcumin is thought to stimulate the production and release of bile by the liver and gallbladder. This promotes the health of both organs as well as optimal fat digestion.
The dose varies according to purpose and specific products, follow label directions for best results. Absorption-enhanced products such as those that contain Bioperine may offer superior results. Turmeric is often combined with fish oil, magnesium and CoQ-10 for cardiovascular health. For liver support, turmeric can be used with milk thistle extract, NAC and alpha lipoic acid.
None noted. Use with caution if you are taking blood thinning medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking these or other drugs before using turmeric or curcumin.
1. Chem Biol Interact. 2008 Jul 10;174(1):27-37. Epub 2008 May 7.
2. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Jul 16.
3. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:265-8.