Turmeric (Curcuma aromatica) is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant, commonly used in Asian food and is the main spice in curry. The root is commonly used to make medicine.
Turmeric contains a yellow- coloured chemical called curcumin, which is often used to colour foods and cosmetics. Curcumin is a very powerful anti-inflammatory compound. Here are some of its benefits
1. Turmeric has strong anti- inflammatory properties:
Inflammation is a necessary process in the body, as it fights off harmful invaders and repairs damage caused by bacteria, viruses and injuries. However, long-term inflammation has been implicated in most chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer, so must be controlled.
The curcumin in turmeric has proven, strong anti-inflammatory properties that block the action of inflammatory molecules in the body. Studies show positive effects of curcumin on people suffering from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, such as pancreatitis.
2. As an anti-oxidant:
Free radicals are a class of highly reactive atoms that are generated in our bodies, as well as in environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke and industrial chemicals. Too much exposure to free radicals can mess with the fats, proteins, and even DNA in the body, which may lead to a number of common diseases and health conditions, including cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Curcumin has been shown to be a robust scavenger of oxygen free radicals.
3. Turmeric protects against eye sight degeneration:
Glaucoma, a group of eye conditions, is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over age 60. Curcumin treatments may help protect the eyes against degeneration.
4. Turmeric is anti-cancerous:
Curcumin shows promise as a cancer treatment. Studies suggests it has protective effects against pancreatic cancer, prostrate cancer and multiple myeloma. Numerous animal studies have explored turmeric’s influence on cancer, and many have found that it can affect cancer formation, growth and development at a molecular level. Turmeric and curcumin may also be able to counteract the effects of some carcinogens, such as certain additives used in processed food.
5. Turmeric for skin care/ treatment :
Topical curcumin treatments may be useful in treating skin disorders, especially as past research suggests curcumin is relatively safe even at high dose. Turmeric helps in the treatment of skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Uses of Turmeric
Turmeric has diverse uses, some of which are;
1. Drugs: Turmeric can be taken as drugs either by taking it in form of pills/ capsule or by decocting.
2. Culinary: Turmeric is used as spice in cooking, e.g it can be used sparingly when preparing jollof rice, scrambled egg, marinade, etc
3. Skin care: Turmeric can be used for skin lightening, also used to treat acne.
4. Hair treatment: Turmeric can be added to shampoo to reduce hair loss through breakage and also improves hair growth/ health.
Some people can experience mild side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. These side effects are more common at higher doses.
Turmeric is likely safe when taken by mouth in food amounts during pregnancy or breast-feeding. However, it is likely unsafe when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts during pregnancy. It might promote a menstrual period or stimulate the uterus, putting the pregnancy at risk. Do not take medicinal amounts of turmeric if you are pregnant. There is not enough reliable information to know if turmeric is safe to use in medicinal amounts during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid it.
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