The ancient Indian spice turmeric seems to be experiencing a renaissance of sorts lately. And modern medical research continues to shed light on the powerful health benefits of an active compound in turmeric called curcumin.
Interestingly, the spice contains some lesser-known active compounds, including demethoxycurcumin and bis-demethoxycurcumin. So, curcumin makes up just a small percentage (approximately 2 percent) of turmeric’s total weight.
Of course, turmeric is historically well-known for giving Indian curry its trademark yellow color, pungency, and warmth. (Curry traditionally also contains cumin, coriander, and sometimes red chili pepper and/or ginger.)
This ancient spice belongs to the ginger plant family, which has also been used in cooking and medicine for thousands of years in China, India, and Southeast Asia.
In fact, you can see the connection between ginger and turmeric by letting fresh ginger root age and dry out over time. It will slowly develop the same brilliant yellow-orange color of turmeric.
Natural “multitasker” offers a range of benefits
Like other natural remedies, curcumin is a terrific “multi-tasker” — meaning it offers a number of different health benefits. (By comparison, drugs only remedy one thing at a time, by design and intention.)
For one, curcumin works as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, helping to relieve acute and chronic osteoarthritis pain and musculoskeletal pain. And other research shows curcumin also helps relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. In fact, studies show curcumin works just as well for rheumatoid pain as the popular NSAID, ibuprofen, (found in Motrin and Advil) — without the dangerous side effects.
Of course, curcumin belongs to my ABCs of joint health — along with ashwagandha and boswellia (more on these later). And, as I explained yesterday, I’ve heard from many Daily Dispatch readers who have canceled their joint replacement surgeries after using my ABCs of joint health for just a couple months.
I always recommend combining curcumin with ashwagandha and boswellia to improve its bioavailability. Specifically, curcumin has a high rate of metabolic clearance and excretion by the kidneys into the urine. So, it can be difficult to maintain high levels of the compound in the blood, making it difficult to deliver it to the joints and other tissues.
But research suggests ashwagandha, boswellia, and curcumin work synergistically to boost effectiveness. In other words, they’re even more powerful when combined!
In addition, research shows black pepper (piperine) also works as a bioavailability enhancer, as I explained earlier this month. So, it’s often added to dishes and supplements made with turmeric (or curcumin specifically) to boost bioavailability. I recommend a daily supplement containing 10 mg, or generously sprinkling freshly-ground pepper over your food. (Both the inner and outer layer of whole peppercorn contain beneficial properties, which are activated when ground.)
Benefits continue to mount for golden spice
Curcumin is probably best known for joint support, but as with other natural compounds, it has many other benefits. In fact, I attended a medical conference in 2012 where experts presented dozens of papers that covered more than 6,000 scientific studies on the multiple benefits of curcumin.
For example, as I reported last month, a new study found that curcumin improves the body’s response to sugar even better than metformin, the standard, first line of defense for Type II diabetes. The evidence was so powerful, I recommend everyone with blood sugar problems use turmeric liberally in cooking.
And let’s not just stop there…
In India, where curry is on the daily menu, they have a very low rate of dementia. This connection led researchers to undertake a major review of several scientific studies that looked specifically at the effect of turmeric on Alzheimer’s disease. The evidence was so powerful, researchers predicted that this golden spice from the East, “will lead to a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.”
Plus, new research shows curcumin is also a potent anti-cancer agent. It appears to prevent the occurrence of cancerous tumors. And it also inhibits their growth once they take root. Specifically, research shows it’s effective against colon cancer cells.
Curcumin also acts as an anti-microbial by preventing or countering infections with bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Used topically on the skin, it’s a safe and effective antiseptic for burns, cuts, and scrapes. Of course, it may stain your skin or clothes yellow temporarily.
To put the amazing healing power of this natural powerhouse to work for you, follow these three simple steps:
- Supplement daily with my ABCs
Ideally, you want to combine:
- 200 to 250 mg daily of turmeric (Curcuma longa) powdered root
- 500 mg of ashwagandha
- 450 mg of boswellia
This combination of ingredients will help supercharge the individual ingredients’ effectiveness.
- Try it fresh
You can find fresh turmeric root in most health food stores or grow your own indoors. They just need a large pot, some space to grown, and sunny spot to thrive as they’re tropical and can grow to be three feet tall!
3. Sprinkle it liberally in cooking
You can also sprinkle powered turmeric as a spice liberally on your favorite fish, meats, and vegetables. I’ve found it’s a great addition to chicken salad, tuna salad, and fresh pork chops or pork loin. You can read more about the benefits of turmeric and its amazing active compound, curcumin, by searching the archives at www.DrMicozzi.com.