Turmeric is a herbaceous plant native to southwestern India, also known as saffron stick, Indian sulfur, Indian gold, yuquilla or turmeric. The name turmeric comes from the classical Arabic kurkum, that is, yellow, due to the strong color it releases.
In India, turmeric is highly valued for its culinary and medicinal uses. Its intense, bitter and spicy aroma together with its mustard color, which comes from curcuminoids, distinguishes it from other species.
It has a mild flavor, although slightly spicy, so its use should not be abused, neither in quantity nor in frequency, as it neutralizes other flavors. It is a family of the zingiberaceae like ginger and is composed of curcumin, curcuminoids, polysaccharides and essential oils.
According to natural medicine, it helps to take care of the liver, heart and joints, although more recently, properties have been attributed to prevent cancer.
Turmeric is known, mainly, as one of the aromatic species most used to flavor Indian food. The Hindus use it to make curries, which made it famous in the world and together with the pepper it holds the title of the “Queen of the species”.
It is also composed of calcium, copper, dietary fiber, iron, niacin, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C, E and K, sodium and zinc.
Health benefits of turmeric
Although it is best known for its culinary use, as an aromatic species or as a food coloring, it also has great value as a medicinal plant. So it is important to know what benefits turmeric has for health since it has been used by millenary cultures, among these benefits are:
Since it has enormous antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, in Asia it has traditionally been used within herbs to protect the liver. And it is that it has hepatoprotective components that transform it into an efficient medicine, if you want to detoxify the liver naturally and counteract its disorders.
For this reason, it has been used for centuries, by Ayurvedic Medicine or Traditional Medicine of India and by Traditional Chinese Medicine for these purposes.
It is one of the medicinal plants that has recently aroused the most interest in the West, due to its powerful properties to protect the liver and even to protect the kidneys.
Multiple investigations support its benefits, as they activate the body’s natural protectors such as glutathione, an antioxidant that improves liver functions. This same enzyme, glutathione, protects the body’s cells against free radical damage, also classifying it as a liver detoxifier.
Turmeric is a cholagogue medicinal plant, that is, its extracts cause the expulsion of bile that is retained in the gallbladder and also has a laxative action. This cholagogue property helps to improve digestion, fat absorption and elimination of waste products from the body.
Curcumin, one of its components, has a choleretic effect that activates the production of bile as part of liver function. This property helps fight diseases of the digestive system such as dyspepsia, abdominal bloating and flatulence.
In other words, the cholagogue and choleretic effects of this plant improve digestion, making cholesterol, fats and vitamins soluble, to aid their absorption. So it becomes a very effective remedy for heavy or slow digestions, as they help to digest large or high-fat meals.
Protector of the heart
Due to its qualities as antioxidants, the components of turmeric have properties that help protect the heart. It is due to these qualities that its habitual consumption reduces the risk of suffering from heart disease.
This species prevents heart damage, as it fights the imbalance that originates in our cells due to an increase in free radicals. To do this, it produces an increase in antioxidants and vitamin C levels in the heart, which help reduce triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
So consuming it within a balanced diet improves circulation and, in general, heart health, due to what is known as a protector of the heart.
Turmeric helps to improve joint inflammation, as well as their stiffness, providing mobility, making it a natural way to fight arthritis.
And it is that its anti-inflammatory property is excellent and it does not produce side effects like the corticosteroids that are usually used, which makes it the protector of the joints. This anti-inflammatory characteristic increases if it is combined with a pinch of black pepper or pineapple, whose component, bromelain, enhances the anti-inflammatory action.
Recent research has been using turmeric as a dietary supplement in patients with skin, duodenal, breast and colon cancer. The results have shown that curcuminoids provide a protective effect to patients with these conditions.
It has even been discovered that the stem or rhizome of turmeric has components with great antitumor potential, in addition to curcumin and curcuminoids. Among these antitumor components are beta-carotenes, curcumenol, curdione, turmenone, terpineol and limonene.
This anticancer food has been shown to be effective in preventing cancer and even improving patients during cancer treatment.
Another finding, which favors the consumption of turmeric during cancer treatment is the great help it provides to overcome the side effects of medications. And it is that its attributes as an antioxidant and liver tonic contribute to the detoxification of the body, preventing toxic substances from being formed, as a side effect of medications.
Additionally, its hepatoprotective components collaborate in the repair of the damage suffered by the liver due to the intake of some medications.