The Golden “Wonderspice”

As more people are taking their health into their own hands, nutritional healing has started to become quite commonplace. Many of us are aware of the health benefits of various fruits, vegetables, and grains, but what about herbs and spices, which also have innumerable healing properties of their own?

One of the biggest players on the health stage right now happens to be that golden-coloured spice we all know and love from Indian curries: TURMERIC.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is one of the main ingredients in curry spice blends, and is commonly found in its powdered form when the rhizomes (roots) are dried and ground. In its original, fresh state, turmeric resembles ginger root in appearance; when peeled, the sturdy flesh underneath is extremely similar to carrots in colour and texture. It’s a beautiful, innocuous-looking herb that has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic and Eastern medicine, and is steadily elbowing its way into the Western world.

The active ingredient in turmeric, curcuma, is what gives the root both its slightly bitter, peppery, robust flavour, as well as its intense, yellow-orange hue. We can find it used in its fresh or dried form in cuisines ranging from Persian to Nepalese to South African.

However, apart from being a lovely flavour enhancer and colourant in various foods, turmeric wields some incredible healing properties; not quite a panacea, but diverse nonetheless.*

Here at Anderssen’s Flaxrolls, turmeric can be found in our gluten-free Curry Chickpea, Tandoori Chickpea, Golden Lentil Masala and Beef Masala Flaxroll™ wraps, as well as in our delicious, organic Golden Roots cold-pressed juice.

 The Health Benefits of Turmeric

According to the Journal of the American Chemical Society, “turmeric contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties.  It is also loaded with many healthy nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc.” Who knew?

Researchers have only just began to tap into the amazing properties of this wonder herb. Let’s take a look at some of the key medicinal properties of turmeric, and how incorporating it into your diet can greatly assist in health and wellness maintenance.

Relieves Arthritis / Joint Inflammation

Turmeric has a significant effect on inflammation and pain on the body, particularly with those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, so instead of reaching for the ibuprofen, try mixing a teaspoon of ground turmeric into your tea or a cup of warm water. This herb also contains antioxidants called curcuminoids, which help to destroy the harmful free radicals that damage cells. While not touted as an official cure, turmeric can definitely help relieve some of the agony caused by inflammation of the joints.

You may also use turmeric topically: If you are suffering from a sprain or swelling, apply a salve of ground turmeric, lime, and salt to the injured area. This is a common home remedy used in India.

Detoxifies Liver

If you have ever craved a spicy curry after a night of debauchery (some of us certainly have!), it’s more than likely that your liver is pleading for turmeric. Alongside other liver-supporting herbs such as milk thistle and artichoke root, turmeric helps to cleanse the blood by stimulating the liver’s production of healthy enzymes. These enzymes, in turn, reduce toxins in the body and prevent their accumulation in your vital organs.

Studies have shown that turmeric may also help prevent cirrhosis, and may be effective in fighting chronic hepatic diseases. Since your liver is the most forgiving, most frequently-punished organ in the human body, show it some love by incorporating turmeric into your diet.

 Helps Obesity and Cholesterol Levels

According to medindia.net, “the inflammation associated with obesity is due in part to the presence of immune cells called macrophages in fat tissues throughout the body. These cells produce cytokines that can cause inflammation in organs such as the heart, and islets of the pancreas, while also increasing insulin resistance in muscle and liver. Scientists believe that turmeric suppresses the number and activity of these cells, and helps reduce some of the adverse consequences of obesity.”

While there is certainly no get-slim-quick cure, despite the infinite number of supplements and diet aids on the market, consuming turmeric on a regular basis may very well help with the current obesity crisis plaguing many Western countries.

Additionally, there has been a considerable amount of research done on the effect of turmeric on lipid levels in the blood, lowering the “bad” serum LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and increasing the “good” serum HDL (high-density lipoprotein).

If you have ever had a blood test done and you see that your cholesterol levels are creeping up into rather alarming territories, turmeric appears to interfere with the absorption and metabolism of cholesterol.

 Boosts Immune System

There are numerous natural remedies you can consume to help boost your immune system, in turn helping to ward off colds and the flu, as well as speed up the healing of wounds: Garlic, citrus, hot peppers, zinc, ginger, and echinacea are just a handful of foods and herbs with immune-boosting properties.

However, our friend turmeric has joined the club, and is a terrific addition to your diet.  The antioxidant properties of curcumin are key here; in low doses, it apparently can trigger antibody responses. It has been known to have a positive effect on various ailments, ranging from asthma and allergies to heart disease and diabetes.

 Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease

While Alzheimer’s is considered to be one of the most tragic of degenerative diseases, there may be a bright (orange-coloured) light on the horizon in the form of turmeric.

Alzheimer’s is characterized by declining mental / cognitive function, as well as steady and eroding changes in daily lifestyle, activities, and behaviour. If you have ever had a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, it can be an extremely painful process to witness; to date, it has no known cure.

Some recent studies have shown that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric may slow down cognitive decline and improve overall memory in Alzheimer’s patients. Research is still underway, but we can expect that, in time, supplementing your diet with this herb may help to prevent the degradation of neurons in the human brain.

There are other healing properties of turmeric that are still being studied, such as its positive effects on the digestive system and kidneys, as well as its possible impact on cancer and stroke prevention. Alongside those listed above, these are just some of the extraordinary health benefits we can expect to learn about in the very near future.

 *Please bear in mind that this is not an official medical site, nor are we dispensing medical advice–we are simply offering forth information. For any illnesses or maladies, it is advisable to seek the advice of a medical practitioner.

Author: N.Bondoreff

Sources: www.top10homeremedies.com, medindianetnet, organicindia.com

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