If you’re not Asian or Middle Eastern, chances are that you haven’t heard of Turmeric powder. The yellowish powder, used widely in India and other parts of Asia, is a spicy powder ground from a type of ginger root found in the rain forests of southern Asia. It is frequently used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine, but is most widely known for its use in curries, exuding that pungent, distinct smell that anyone who has lived near an Indian family’s apartment would recognize. Although Turmeric powder has been valued for its anti-inflammatory properties since it became widely distributed in the Middle Ages, recent studies have proven that it is not only a more effective anti-inflammatory agent, but much more.
In a recent study published in the Alternative Medicine Review, a study done on Curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric powder) found that it could be more effective than over the counter NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) and have fewer side effects as well.
The study involved two groups of 50 test subjects, all of which had confirmed cases of osteoarthritis. The first group used “the best available” over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs, while the other used a proprietary blend that included the daily recommended does of Curcumin, or roughly 200 mg. Several tests were used to observe any effects on the body’s cartilage and inflammatory response, all resulting in a quicker reduction of symptoms for the Curcumin group. Also, where NSAIDs pose a constant risk of side effects such as liver damage, Curcumin has virtually none (although it is recommended not to take it if you have gallstones or stomach ulcers).
The magic of Curcumin doesn’t just stop at curbing osteoarthritis, though. A recent study carried out at a University in Singapore found an association between Curcumin and the prevention of the building up of Amyloid plques in the brain, which have long been thought to aid in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Also, over 200 studies on Curcumin’s effects on the metastasis of cancer have been conducted in the last year alone. Some of the results include a causal relationship between Curcumin and apoptosis (cell’s programmed self destruction of overabundant cells) without damaging healthy cells, as well as moderation of the ways cells communicate with each other, leading to slower tumor growth. Other results extend to neural health in the brain, which leads to improved computational power.
With all the carcinogens in America (the country with the fifth highest cancer rates in the world), it wouldn’t hurt to incorporate Turmeric into your diet. With “harmless” devices like cell phones and ostensibly “healthy” ones like ab belts (which have been known to cause cancer by exposing your body to nonionizing radiation) being shoved down our throats, it’s no wonder that our cancer rates are ten times higher than India’s and three times higher than China’s. Even if you don’t like the taste, you can always take Curcumin in pill form as daily supplements… who knows, it can prove to truly be the “spice of life” for you.