Aside from essential oils, little to no natural health remedies have hit the mainstream quite like turmeric. In fact, despite the turmeric side effects, it has skyrocketed as a natural healing agent. I am just shocked that America didn’t pick up on this miracle spice earlier, considering we’ve been using it in foods, such as mustard, for more than a century. The RT French Company, which makes French’s Mustard, first used turmeric as a color agent and preservative for its “creamy salad mustard” in the early 1900s.
Tragically, turmeric actually has a long history of misuse as a food dye dating all the way back to medieval England when it was more commonly known as “Indian saffron.”
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a traditional Chinese and Indian medicinal herb that comes from the rootstock of the Curcuma longa plant, a member of the ginger family. To produce turmeric, the roots of the Curcuma longa plant are boiled, dried and then ground into a powder.
Turmeric has been used over the centuries to treat a variety of diseases, including cancer, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. With its warm, bitter, peppery flavoring, turmeric’s mild smell resembles orange and ginger, which is why it is so popular in curry dishes. Today, it can mostly be found as a coloring agent in mustards and in a few natural health supplements.
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The Secret Behind Turmeric
Turmeric’s secret healing powers aren’t, well, all that secret. In fact, the herb draws its miracle powers from the chemical compound curcumin. And just in case you find the skeptic in you questioning this powerful healer, consider that almost 7,000 peer-reviewed articles have been published in scientific journals exploring turmeric’s effectiveness. (1) And while this herb is no doubt powerful, a few turmeric side effects have been found. Still, there is resounding support for turmeric and its benefits to the entire body. Here’s what just a few recent studies say curcumin can do:
- Defend against intellectual/memory deficiencies from heavy ion irradiation. (1)
- Lower blood cholesterol levels (2)
- Destroy lung cancer (3)
- Kill bladder cancer cells. (4)
- Prompt tumor cell death in the deepest parts of individual cells. (5)
- Stronger antifungal than ginger, clove, and oregano. (6)
- Protect the liver oxidative stress. (7)
- Increase lifespan. (8)
Benefits of Turmeric
There’s a seemingly endless list of health benefits associated with turmeric. In fact, of the more than 7,000 reports looking at turmeric’s effectiveness, few have found any reportable turmeric side effects. While there are some dangers connected to the spice for certain individuals, the research by far points to its health benefits. Just a few conditions turmeric is known to help are:
When compared to aspirin (Bayer, etc.) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, ect.), curcumin is the strongest anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative agents on the planet, according to a report published in the journal Oncogene. (9)
Turmeric has been shown to be highly effective at helping people manage Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) thanks to its well-known anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, the relationship between turmeric and Interleukin (IL)-6, a common inflammatory known to contribute to RA, was found to be beneficial to RA sufferers. The study from Japan found that turmeric “significantly reduced” the inflammatory markers in Interleukin (IL)-6, suggesting that routine use of the spice can possibly ward off RA from the onset. (10)
Curcumin’s impact on depression has been studied extensively. In one particular study, 60 patients, who had been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder (MDD), volunteered to undergo turmeric treatments compared to fluoxetine (Prozac) treatments. In this study, scientists from the Government Medical College (Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India) found that turmeric was not only equally as effective as Prozac, but it didn’t carry with it all the perilous side effects associated with antidepressant drugs. According to the report, “This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD.” (11)
One of the more interesting benefits of turmeric is its ability to reduce blood glucose levels and reverse insulin resistance. In fact, curcumin suppresses glucose production in the liver, according to a study out of Auburn University published in Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications. Now here’s what’s even more amazing: That study found that turmeric is 400 times better than the diabetes drug Metformin when it comes to triggering AMPK and its downstream goal acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC).
Curcumin is actually so good at dealing with all these health concerns that my research has found that turmeric helps more than these 10 drugs:
- Cholesterol drugs (Lipitor)
- Inflammatory bowel disease drugs
- Arthritis medications
- Diabetes drugs (Metformin)
- Pain killers
- Anti-coagulants (Aspirin)
- Anti-depressants (Prozac)
The Impacts of Dosage
Turmeric dosage varies by age. It is recommended that adults, for example, follow the following guidelines: (12)
- Supplement: 450 milligrams of curcumin capsules each day or up to 3 grams of turmeric root daily (divided into several doses).
- Tea: 1 to 1.5 grams of dried root steeped in 5 ounces of water for 15 minutes twice daily.
- Oil: One-half tablespoon of turmeric oil three times daily.
For kids, on the other hand, there is no clinically known dose that’s considered safe. However, I recommend culinary uses of turmeric, such as including it in your children’s natural health meal plan as you would any other spice or herb. This will help ensure your children are getting the curcumin they need on a daily basis. It’s helpful to know that the “Average dietary intake of turmeric in the Indian population may range between 2 to 2.5 grams, corresponding to 60 to 200 milligrams of curcumin daily.” (12)
When Turmeric Side Effects Are Harmful
It has been reported that one of the turmeric side effects is that it can cause allergic reactions, especially if it comes in contact with the skin. Side effects of turmeric can cause symptoms which include mild itching and rash. Also, the side effects of turmeric used in elevated doses can cause: (12)
- Increased menstrual flow
- Uterine contractions in pregnant women
- Hypotension (lowered blood pressure)
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Hyperactive gallbladder contractions
- Increased liver function tests
- Increased risk of bleeding
- Liver problems
- Heart burn
Please pay attention to the side effects of turmeric. You should also use turmeric with caution if you’re taking other medications. Turmeric has the ability to interfere with warfarin, aspirin and other anticoagulants. It is also known to impact other anti-inflammatory drugs.
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