In this article we will discuss how one simple Ayurvedic herb protects you from cancer and inflammation.
We will of course be talking about the many health benefits of Turmeric!
CAUTION: Medical Disclaimer
Table of Contents
Herbal Name and Characteristics
- Name: Turmeric (root), curcuma or Yellow Root
- Pin Yin: Jiang Huang,
- Latin: Curcuma longa
- Taste: pungent, bitter and slightly sweet
- Color: yellow
- Constitution: slightly Warm (Yang)
- Builds: N/A
About this Herb
Turmeric is another one of my favorite herb/spices and is also very famous for its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. In fact, it is the only herb that is an antioxidant pathway stimulator!
After the first year of use (as part of my diet), I found that the usual aches on my body were gone. I had been living with knee and shoulder pains since my army days (1,5 decade ago) and now these have disappeared.
Another thing I noticed was that I could better digest more food and had less to no gas after all these years (according to Ayurveda it has the ability to balance out certain foods). For me, it is an essential herbal companion and I often put it (along with ginger) in all my shakes, foods and even salads.
There are a few things I need to mention about this herb:
- Yes, you can find it in your local supermarket in powder form. However, try to look for organic and quality turmeric powder. Or you can just get any kind of cheap turmeric spice to start with and then look for a more expensive and organic powder. You will be amazed by the difference in its potency, taste and quality.
- Turmeric has a very distinct flavor, not as hot as ginger, but still takes some getting used to. If you love Indian food, then this will not be a problem for you but if you are not into it, the taste of turmeric might be a challenge for you. Start slow and work on it. It is definitely worth it.
- Whether you are using the root or the powder form, remember that it contains strong colorants. This means that it can stain surfaces, clothes and everything it comes in contact with, including your hands. They will turn yellow and that can last for more than a couple of days. You have been warned.
- Last but not least, do not start with a high dose. Respect the power of this wondrous herb and take it easy. You do not want to end up with an immune condition after overclocking your immune system or by kicking off an underlying condition. Start with a low dose!
I have to admit that I prefer using the powdered version as the root tends to be a bit of a struggle to clean (it can make a mess) and requires a bit of effort. Regardless, in this article I will help you understand the health benefits of this amazing herb.
What is Turmeric
Turmeric, just like ginger, is a plant that belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. It has strong medicinal properties and while it has been used for almost 5.000 years, it was not until recent years that the medical society discovered its many qualities, especially its anti-cancer properties.
It originally grows in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia but it can also be found in Hawaii and is known as Olena (Curcuma domestica).
There are many mentions of it throughout history and according to Michael Castleman (author of Healing Herbs) even the Ancient Greeks were aware of the herb but did not use it for cooking or for medicinal purposes as they did with ginger. Turmeric was never famous in the West like it had been in Asia as part of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Ayurvedic medicine.
In Eastern Asian culture, it has several purposes other than cooking and medicine, such as its use as a colorant in the place of saffron (which is more expensive).
It caught the attention of the Western medicine world when doctors became aware of the low rate of cancer occurrences in Eastern Asia as opposed to the United States. Turmeric is the basis of a lot of curries and is consumed daily by millions.
Along with ginger, it is one of the most powerful superfoods with many medicinal properties because of all its bioactive ingredients:
- Curcumin (at around 50-60%) which is responsible for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cancer protective properties,
- Carbs and much more.
Benefits and properties of Turmeric
Summarizing the many benefits of Turmeric root:
- It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties which can help protect the digestive tract, the organs (the heart and liver) and the entire body against cancer. It does that by blocking NF-kB which is the source of inflammation. It is so potent that it can actually meet the effectiveness of a lot of anti-inflammatory drugs on the market today.
- It has strong antioxidant properties as the curcumin can fight off and neutralize free radicals. This means it possesses a number of other health benefits from protection against diseases, faster and better recovery to anti-aging.Not only that, but as a pathway stimulator it helps the body increase its own antioxidant protection by supporting and stimulating its own production of antioxidants (over time) and even protect against heavy metals such as mercury.
- It can also improve cognitive processes and appears to be promising in the fight against Alzheimer’s and depression as curcumin can support production of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in the brain.Good brain health means good mood, less depression (curcumin can boost dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain) and also optimal hormonal profile (it removes excess estrogen from the body which leads to a better testosterone-estrogen balance and optimal sex function in men and women).
- It can protect the heart and support cardiovascular health since curcumin can improve the function of endothelium which regulates blood pressure as well due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (protecting the heart from oxidative damage).
- It can increase testosterone production as shown in studies performed on rodents. Also, contrary to the rumors of it being estrogenic, studies actually showed that it is anti-estrogenic (it removes estrogen) and can potentially help with gynecomastia (a.k.a gyno) in men.
It can increase HDL (good) cholesterol by 30% and lead to an overall reduction in total cholesterol which means a better conversion of cholesterol to testosterone in men and progesterone in women.
- Its anti-inflammatory properties showed a lot of promise to help with arthritis problems when taken orally. This is because curcumin can lower inflammation in the body, which is the root of arthritis and has been shown to be just as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs.
- It can protect against cancer as it interferes with tumor cell growth by reducing angiogenesis and even leading to the death of cancer cells. Even though more studies are required to determine more on this matter, it does show a lot of promise in the fight against cancer.
When and how to take it
Fresh Turmeric root: The best way to get the benefits of Turmeric is to get a fresh, organic root and cook (with) it.
However, be warned that its taste may not agree with everyone. Also, it is a very potent herb so it is recommended to start by adding a small dose of turmeric powder to your foods and then gradually build it up.
Be careful when you are cutting, cooking or using turmeric root as it can give your hands a yellowish-red tint. Wear gloves when using it and be careful not to stain surfaces or clothes.
Turmeric Powder: This is a very convenient way to use Turmeric root as it can be added directly to your foods and salads.
Alcohol based Tincture: With this way, you can extract many of the nutrients found in Turmeric. Hold the dose in your mouth (under the tongue) for 1 to 3 minutes until it gets absorbed. Then you can swallow it.
For people who have liver cancer or problems with alcoholism, the tincture can also be taken in a glass of water. Wait a couple of minutes for the alcohol to evaporate and then drink the tincture. This is perhaps the safest way to take a Turmeric tincture.
Tablets and capsules: Turmeric is also available in pill form which is great for people who cannot handle its taste. Keep in mind though that nothing is as good and potent as the actual root.
Turmeric and Ginger tea: A good way to take turmeric is to combine it with ginger in a concoction or tea.
Follow the process for making ginger tea and then add a bit of powdered or freshly chopped turmeric in the tea. The drink is very spicy and hot so take care when consuming it.
Note: Turmeric and the curcumin it contains are fat soluble so it works best when combined with an oil. Also, a good idea is to combine it with black pepper as the piperine increases its absorption by 2000%.
The best times to take it would be:
- With your food at meal times,
- In your healthy shakes,
- At night to help you relax,
- On the onset of a cold or flu.
Safety and side effects
Turmeric is generally safe when used in normal doses when taken orally or used topically for short periods of time.
Reported side effects from oral consumption include:
- Stomach upset,
- Abnormal heart rhythm (when taken in large doses)
- General stomach discomfort
- Extra menstrual bleeding.
Last but not least, Turmeric can lower blood pressure so avoid taking it if you already have low blood pressure.
According to this study Turmeric can reduce sperm count. What is really strange is that the study only referred to isolated use of turmeric. Also, let us not forget that turmeric is something used very frequently in East Asia. If memory serves that part of the globe has an overpopulation problem so this does not make a lot of sense to me. Still, make sure to avoid overloading on Turmeric when you are trying to have a baby.
You should not take Turmeric if you:
- Have any sort of gallbladder condition (such as gallbladder stones) as it can make the condition worse.
- Have a bleeding disorder as turmeric can increase bleeding.
- Have Gerd (gastroesophageal reflux) as it can upset the stomach and thus make the condition worse.
- Have any hormonal problem or cancer, diabetes or undergoing chemo treatment: Check with your doctor before using turmeric if you have any of the above conditions as he is the only person who can determine if using it is a good idea or not.
- Are scheduled for an operation as turmeric can lower blood sugar levels and can increase the risk of bleeding. Stop using turmeric at least 2 weeks before the surgery.
- Have low blood pressure or diabetes as there is a high risk of hypoglycemia from using turmeric.
- Have allergies to this specific herb or any of its ingredients.
Despite what is being said and as you can see from the above facts (and accompanying studies), turmeric is an amazing herb. It is not estrogenic as people tend to think (see study on its anti-estrogenic qualities) and it does not interfere with iron absorption according to this study.
However, be on the safe side and discuss this with your doctor if you have any iron deficiencies or anemia.
The best thing you can do before taking any herb supplement is to test it. If you want to be safe while using herbs I strongly urge you to read my other article on how to test an herb for allergies and intolerances.
Contraindications or interactions with other medication/substances:
Avoid using this herb/spice if you have any medical condition or take any kind of medication without consulting with your doctor first.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
In some cases it can affect pregnancy and result in miscarriage by stimulating the uterus. Since there are not enough studies performed to determine the full safety of this product, pregnant women or breast-feeding women should avoid using turmeric.
Turmeric can be used in moderate quantities as a spice for food. You should not use it in high doses and for extended periods of time as it is unsafe and can cause adverse effects.
Take a small break if you tend to use it on a daily basis, even in small amounts, in order to protect the body from accumulation of other toxins unrelated to the herb itself.
Over the past 20 years I have experimented with literally hundreds of herbs, supplements (and other natural products) and was finally able to discover the right doses for amazing results.
If you wish to learn more about the dosages that I use with my clients for different purposes (better health, hormonal balance, stress management, testosterone boost and more) or how I combine this herb/supp with others, leave a comment below or reach out to me for a consultation through the “Hire me” link.
I am sure that by now you understand why this simple root is one of my favorite herbs and a stable in all my herbal protocols. Turmeric has a plethora of health benefits including but not limited to its anti-inflammatory, cancer-protective, testosterone-boosting, estrogen-removing properties! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to upgrade their health, just make sure that you follow the instructions mentioned in this article and check with your doctor first (especially if you have any gallbladder problems as mentioned earlier).
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Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
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