From treating arthritis and glaucoma, to banishing infertility and baldness, to fighting the effects of several types of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and even fighting hangovers, chances are turmeric, or more specifically curcumin, the active compound within the bright orange spice has been linked to aiding it in some way. If you believe the hype, turmeric may be the most super spice ever!
In fact, a ton of scientific evidence exists in the National Institutes of Health’s database that back up the following anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant claims:
- Cancer blaster
Oxidative stress is often blamed for chronic diseases, like the development of cancer. However, turmeric has a secret weapon known as the antioxidant curcumin on it’s side. Think of curcumin antioxidants as little soldiers that fight against free radicals (or reactive molecules). Without the curcumin army chronic oxidative damage can run rampant and develop into a chronically disease (i.e., type II diabetes). However, curcumin destroys the chemical structure of free radicals and rings the alarm on the body’s own antioxidant defense system to attack.
- Protects against degenerative disease
Curcumin also safeguards the brain. According to medical research consuming curcumin rich foods, like turmeric, boosts levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF), a hormone in the brain that fights degenerative disease (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease and depression) and triggers the development of fresh neurons and improved pathways in the brain. Interestingly enough, neuro-scientists claim that low levels of BDNF are often found in patients with degenerative diseases.
- Arthritis ally
The painful joint inflammation characterized by arthritis limits quality of life for almost 40 million Americans. However, research from the American Arthritis Association touts curcumin, found in turmeric, as a naturally anti-inflammatory for arthritis joint pain. A 2012 study published by the Wiley Library found that curcumin proved as effective as common anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed to a group of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and even lead to significant symptom improvements (i.e., reduced joint pain).
- Fights inflammatory response
The western world is rife with chronic inflammation, or rather inflammatory diseases such as cancer, metabolic syndrome Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease. But never fear, curcumin rich foods, like turmeric, block inflammatory response by the NF-kB (which triggers genes linked to inflammation), thereby fighting chronic inflammation. While short term inflammation is normal, chronic inflammation may result in inflammatory disease (i.e., inflammatory bowel disease) development, which occurs when the body attacks its own tissues and organs. According to research from the National Institutes of Health, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory abilities are as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e., Ibuprofen), but minus the negative side effects.