A Guide to Turmeric & Health

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Reports concerning turmeric & health have circulated far and wide. They have shown up in respected journals, as you might expect, and in business magazines, which is something that you might not expect. As a result of these reports, supplement sales have skyrocketed over the last few years. But, is supplementation really worthwhile? That depends.

First, let me explain why researchers began investigating the benefits of turmeric in the first place. The history of use of the spice plant goes back thousands and thousands of years. It has been cultivated for at least 5000 years in parts of Asia and has become a major cash crop in parts of India.

It is one of many plants that are used for cooking and eating, as well as medicine. Native populations from around the world learned to use the plants that were available to them to treat common diseases.

Modern-day researchers have evaluated many of those medicinal plants. Thousands of research papers have been written about turmeric & health, because the medicinal activity of that plant is nothing short of spectacular. Of course, there are always “buts”.

Traditionally, it was used to treat a variety of illnesses, including skin infections and injuries. When taken orally, it relieved digestive complaints and joint pain, healed infections and protected the liver.

Scientists found that the active compound within the plant is curcumin. In test-tube and eventually animal studies, it was shown to have antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral activity. It seems to reduce or prevent the growth of tumors and is effective against various types of cancer.

The compound has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. It helps to break down the plaques that cause brain dysfunction in Alzheimer’s patients and stimulates the production of new brain cells. Now, we come to the “buts”.

Knowing all of these things, it would seem that turmeric & health go hand in hand. But, research has shown that little, if any, curcumin is absorbed into the bloodstream when it is taken orally. Current research concerning the benefits against cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases are being conducted using intravenous solutions or experimental formulations that are not available in supplement form.

Some supplement manufacturers make every effort to insure that the nutrient is absorbed. In order to do that, they include an enteric coating, which protects it from stomach acid, and they include at least 20-30mg of piperine, a compound found in black pepper.

Studies concerning turmeric & health have shown that piperine enhances the absorption of curcumin by as much as 2000%. That’s not a misprint. It says two thousand per cent.

There are dozens of different brands and supplement formulations on the market. Some include only curcumin. Others include only curcumin and piperine. If you want the best value for your money, look for a supplement that includes a variety of different nutrients, including your basic vitamins and minerals. Who wants to take a handful of different pills everyday?

We are still waiting for the results of the latest studies concerning turmeric & health. For now, we know that taking a supplement is worthwhile, but only when it is properly formulated.

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