A popular spice in Eastern culture, most people have no idea how curcumin benefits your health, yet it is so powerful (and tasty) that anyone who is interested in living a long and healthy life should become aware of just how this spice can affect your health.
What Is Curcumin?
Curcumin is one of the ingredients of Tumeric the popular Indian spice. It’s curcumin that gives Tumeric it’s yellow color as well as the majority of the health benefits associated with this spice. Typically used in curries, turmeric/curcumin has a strong taste that may not be appreciated in the west but if you want the health benfits you can always get your recommended curcumin dosage in a capsule (although it is suggested that eating it in food is more beneficial to your health). Used for centuries in India, Asia and the Middle East for it’s culinary and medicinal uses it has long been recognized for it’s anti inflammatory and pain relieving properties but today’s medical community is also realizing that it’s healing properties go far beyond that.
How Curcumin Benefits Your Health
Recent studies have shown that curcumin can be beneficial for everything from arthritis pain, to brain health to cancer to preventing Alzheimer’s. As suggested above, it can be enjoyed in your food or taken in a capsule but either way, there are a few curcumin side effects you might want to know about which are discussed in the section below. That being said, it is relatively safe and a potent antioxidant that can really help your overall health.
According to a recent study curcumin was found to relieve pain and increase mobility for patients with osteoarthritis. The study used a specialized formula that included 200 mg of curcumin which has superior anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, it worked so good that it was thought to be superior to NSAIDS normally used with far less side effects.
Another one of the curcumin benefits has to do with it’s positive effects on brain health. The American Journal Of Epidemiology reports even occasional use of turmeric-curcumin can increase brain power as tested by using a standard mental test called the Mini Mental State Examination. Not only that but another study done at the National University of Singapore reports that curcumin may prohibit the build up of amyloid plaques which are harmful protein deposits found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients and may play a role in slowing the progression of the disease.
In addition to the above, scientists have created a molecule from curcumin (called CNB-0001) that is able to repair stroke damage at the molecular level in laboratory tests.
Perhaps one of curcumins most promising benefits has to do with helping to prevent Cancer. Researchers at theUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Center have discovered that curcumin blocks a biological pathway that certain cancers like melanoma need in order to develop. While testing is still in the laboratory stage, this might help to explain why the incidents of lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer are 10 times less in India where the spice is widely consumed than in the US.
Curcumin Side Effects
In regular meals and as a dietary supplement, curcumin actually has very little side effects. It is when taken in large doses as one might for natural treatment of a specific problem that some side effects can crop up. These include nausea, diarrhea and irritation to the skin in some that are sensitive to it.
More seriously, higher curcumin dosage may increase the chance of bleeding and there is a slight chance it may affect the uterus so use with caution if you are pregnant. It may also be toxic to the liver so anyone with liver damage, gallstones or heavy drinkers should not take additional supplements.
Human clinical trials on curcumin have proven it to be pharmacologically safe in doses up to 10/g a day. Even a small trial with doses up to 8000 mg a day showed no toxicity.
Probably the best way to experience curcumin benefits for your health is to eat plenty of dishes made with turmeric-curcumin. In fact, studies suggest that your body may not absorb much curcumin if it is taken on it’s own or in a supplement but it might absorb more if taken with pepper which is present in most dishes that include curcumin. In some of the studies above, even eating curcumin every 6 months could help with brain function.
As with anything else, consult a medical health professional before taking any supplements including curcumin.
If you want some recipes that use cur cumin (turmeric), then check out my book Healing Herbs and Spices over at Amazon, it’s loaded with info on herbs and spices and recipe too!