The turmeric herb benefits have been the subject of much scientific research. They are believed to be due to an antioxidant that is a member of the carotenoid family. It is called curcumin.
The carotenoids are abundant in brightly colored fruits and vegetables. The most common is beta-carotene, found in carrots and other veggies, which the body uses to create vitamin A, a nutrient essential for good vision. Lack of the vitamin is the most common cause of blindness in children.
Other less common carotenoids include lutein and zeaxanthin, found mostly in dark green vegetables like kale, which are believed to be essential for continuing good vision in adults and the elderly. The most common cause of blindness in the elderly is a condition called age-related macular degeneration or ARMD. Many researchers and ophthalmologists believe that adding lutein and zeaxanthin to the diet will help prevent ARMD and is beneficial for those that already have it.
Curcumin is even less common than the other carotenoids. The only known dietary source is the spice turmeric. While the other carotenoids are beneficial to our health, particularly to our eyes, they do not come close to the turmeric herb benefits.
Curcumin has a number of biological activities. It is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent the detrimental effects of free radical molecules. It is an anti-inflammatory, which is important not only for painful conditions, but also because inflammation plays a role in cellular aging and age-related diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Research indicates that curcumin may be able to prevent the formation of and even break down the amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer’s patients. Clinical trials are currently ongoing to investigate that benefit.
The turmeric herb benefits for viral, fungal and bacterial infections have been known for thousands of years. It is one of the plants that was and is a component of traditional Indian medicine, known as Ayurvedic medicine. Today, Ayurvedic medicine is considered an alternative form of medical care in most countries. But, it is still widely practiced in India and teaching hospitals are scattered around the globe.
Some recent studies indicate that it may be beneficial for preventing the replication of the herpes simplex virus and the HIV virus. It has also been shown to protect the liver from those diseases.
While the turmeric herb benefits are exciting, there is one problem. When eaten or taken in supplement form, not much of it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Scientists say that it has low bioavailability.
Supplement companies can address that problem by including an enteric coating and by adding piperine to the formula. An element found in black pepper, piperine enhances the absorption of a number of different nutrients. It enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
Some of the better multi-nutritional supplements contain a mixture of carotenoids, including lycopene. Found primarily in tomatoes, lycopene is another antioxidant that may help prevent cancer. Preventing various kinds of cancer may be one of the turmeric herb benefits. At least, that’s one of the things that we hope for.