By Kris Vaughan, CH
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a culinary spice that has been used for centuries in many cultures and is the main ingredient in Indian curries. A relative of ginger, the brightly colored herb also gives American mustard it’s yellow color. Medicinally, turmeric contains antioxidant properties that are highly effective for reducing inflammation.
Inflammation happens in many degrees. If you bump your knee on the coffee table, it gets red, painful and swollen; this is inflammation. But there are low-grade degrees of inflammation as well. This is the inflammation that you can’t always see but that makes muscles and joints ache and that also causes digestive issues and allergies. It is this underlying inflammation that is present in conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, diabetes, and even dementia. This low-grade inflammation is always present before dis-ease sets in and it’s important that we take steps to control it.
Turmeric is one of the most prized herbs for reducing inflammation at varying degrees and a 2007 study published in the American Botanical Council publication Herb Clip demonstrates turmeric’s ability to outperform pharmaceuticals in conditions like Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and even cancer. Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including six different COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme). Curcumin is the component in turmeric most often cited for its health benefits. Curcumin targets many facets of inflammation and studies of the efficacy of curcumin have shown positive changes in arthritis symptoms.
It is important to know that turmeric can often be hard to absorb through the digestive tract if there is compromised digestion. It is also important to know that approximately 80% of clients I work with have some degree of digestive dysfunction due to antibiotic use in the past, food allergies/sensitivities, autoimmune conditions, and medications which lower the amount of stomach acid produced. When this is the case, taking some digestive enzymes along with turmeric will aid in the breakdown of the herb and allow the body to absorb it more readily.
You can get the health benefits of turmeric by adding this delicious spice to your foods. You can also drink it in a tea, use a capsule supplement, or a liquid extract (tincture) of the herb. When using turmeric for inflammation, you want to have a minimum of 400mg – 600mg three times daily. You also will want to adopt an anti-inflammatory lifestyle to get the best results.
To create your personalized strategies for inflammation, schedule a consultation with an herbalist in our wellness clinic. Visit our apothecary to purchase turmeric.