Turmeric is commonly used in curries, and you may use it to add spice to many dishes. It has long been considered an Indian home remedy for many illnesses because of its claimed anti-oxidant properties, but how truthful are these claims and are these backed by scientific research?
Turmeric and Curcumin
Part of the ginger family, used in both cooking and colouring, turmeric is a bright yellow spice that is sold both fresh as a small-finger sized root, or more commonly available as a ground spice after being boiled, sun-dried and ground into a powder. Turmeric has many different compounds, but curcumin is the compound which gives the spice its colour and is also thought to be the compound that promotes the health benefits of the turmeric root.
BBC Good Food claims that turmeric is used to treat various inflammatory conditions. Although more research is needed, it is thought that curcumin slows down the inflammatory pathway.
According to Healthline, curcumin is a bioactive substance and its strongly anti-inflammatory effects are comparable with the ones of some anti-inflammatory drugs.
Turmeric’s possible anti-inflammatory benefits also link with arthritis which is discussed below.
Arthritis is described by the NHS as a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK and causes the joints to become painful and stiff and rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints which leads to pain and swelling.
According to BBC Good Food, although not confirmed to treat arthritis, clinical trials have found turmeric to have some effects on relieving pain and swelling in people with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
Lowers Risk of Diabetes and Heart Disease
The Independent reports that studies conducted on animals show benefits of curcumin preventing insulin resistance, improving high blood sugar and reducing the toxic effects of high blood glucose levels. They also show curcumin supplements as beneficial in improving animal heart health, although there are only a few clinical trials conducted in human heart disease patients from which to draw meaningful conclusions.
According to Cancer Research UK, research has shown that curcumin has anticancer effects on cancer cells, possibly being able to kill and prevent more cancer cells from growing.
However, Cancer Research UK explains that although there is some research, the is no conclusive evidence to show that turmeric or curcumin can prevent or treat cancer.
With turmeric becoming increasingly popular, it is important to remember that any health claim benefits of turmeric or curcumin are still under research and they shouldn’t be taken for granted. However, for most people, there’s nothing stopping us from including turmeric in our dishes, even if only for its beautiful colour and earthy taste.
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute the medical advice from a healthcare professional.