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Reduce Chronic Inflammation with the Super Anti-inflammatory Turmeric

Updated on October 18, 2013

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a plant related to ginger. It grows in warm climates and is found extensively throughout the Indian sub-continent. The active ingredient in turmeric that confers health benefits is curcumin. Turmeric powder is an ingredient in curries and give them their distinctive yellow color. Many people are not fans of the taste of curry, so many westerners have been missing out on this vital for good health spice. However, turmeric is also available in a taste-free concentrated capsule form, making it more palatable to western tastes.

History of Turmeric

In India, turmeric was first utilized as a food preservative. It is also used as a dye and is utilized in some religious ceremonies. The spice has been a popular ingredient for thousands of years in Indian cuisine.

The Indian practice of medicine called Ayurveda is 5,000 years old. According to The California College of Ayurveda, turmeric is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat conditions as varied as inflammation to tumors to jaundice to scorpion stings to skin conditions. Turmeric is thought to bring balance to the body's condition.

Turmeric is also thought to balance the doshas - the three types of body compositions. Are you a Vata, Pitta or Kapha? Read the descriptions to decide which one sounds like you. Ayurvedic followers believe that understanding your particular dosha, or predominant dosha, allows a person to adjust diet and lifestyle to balance their body's natural inclinations. Turmeric is recommended for all three doshas.

Turmeric Powder
Turmeric Powder

Turmeric and Inflammation

Inflammation is on the rise, particularly in westernized countries. It is chronic inflammation that is underlying nearly all deadly diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

Diet appears to play a major role in whether a person suffers from chronic inflammation or not. The western diet, full of processed foods and sugar, is highly inflammatory. The typical Indian diet contains anti-inflammatory spices, perhaps the ultimate super-star being turmeric. It would stand to reason that Indian sub-continent cancer rates would be lower than the United States. And they are.

According to the International Journal of Epidemiology, cancer rates in the United States are nearly triple that found in the Indian sub-continent. Interestingly, they also concluded that Indians living outside of India have higher cancer rates. So, it's not so much how you're built, but where you live. Meaning, chronic inflammation is a result of our environment - a combination of factors including diet, exercise, stress, and adequate sleep, among other factors. (Twenty Causes of Chronic Inflammation)

Is Turmeric Right For You?

Turmeric may be natural, but as with all powerful drugs, your doctor should be consulted before adding it to your diet in concentrated capsule form. Turmeric in food, such as curry, is generally considered safe. Turmeric in concentrated levels is not for everyone. Anyone suffering from diabetes, or being treated for excess stomach acid or taking blood thinners must consult a doctor before taking turmeric. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not take turmeric. Only your doctor can confirm that turmeric is right for you.

What are the Dosages for Supplementing with Turmeric?

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends 400-600 mg of the active ingredient curcumin three times per day for an adult. Children should not take turmeric supplements as there has been no research on the effect of curcumin on a growing body.

It is noted in research on turmeric that combining it with black pepper greatly increases its beneficial effects. Men's Health ranks the combination of turmeric and black pepper in their top ten healthy food combinations. The site says: "Adding black pepper to turmeric or turmeric-spiced food enhances curcumin's bioavailability by 1,000 times, due to black pepper's hot property called piperine," says Kennedy. "This is one reason it's thought that curry has both turmeric (curcumin) and black pepper combined." Translation: You'll get the benefits of turmeric if you pepper up your curries."

The Takeaway

Chronic inflammation is sky-rocketing because of the way we live in the modern world. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to remove all of the factors that are contributing to chronic inflammation. Turmeric is a powerhouse spice that can assist the body in preventing and reducing chronic inflammation.

© 2013 Deb Maselli


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      Justajem 3 years ago

      I recently tried to incorporate this in my diet and started to get super sharp pains in my gut from it. Needless to say I'm really disappointed because the benefits of it sound fantastic. I even tried taking it with coconut oil and food to coat my stomach and I still got the pains. Any suggestions?