Turmeric, a pungent member of the ginger family, is renowned for its many health benefits. Turmeric owes its vivid yellow coloration and medicinal properties to curcumin, its principal active compound. In Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional medical system originating in India, turmeric has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments ranging from arthritis to indigestion. While many of curcumin’s medicinal properties have been validated by scientific inquiry, others remain unproven. Consult your health care provider before using turmeric or curcumin to treat any disease or condition.
Like its botanical cousin ginger, turmeric may help to ease digestive distress. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that turmeric may increase bile production and reduce symptoms of gas and bloating. Turmeric is a common naturopathic treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, animal studies and in vitro tests have supported turmeric’s traditional use as a treatment for inflammation. Ongoing studies continue to investigate turmeric’s role in the treatment of inflammation-related conditions like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and muscle pain.
Turmeric may support the health of the heart and blood vessels. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that turmeric may reduce the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Curcumin also helps to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and may prevent the formation of blood clots.
Curcumin may offer hope in the fight against cancer. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, intravenous curcumin helps to prevent cellular damage and may stop blood vessels from supplying oxygen to tumors. While studies in this area have been encouraging, cancer patients should not rely on curcumin alone to treat cancer. Discuss complementary treatment options with your health care provider.
Diabetes and High Blood Sugar
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, turmeric may help to support healthy blood glucose levels. Diabetic animals given turmeric experience fewer rises in blood sugar than animals who do not take the herb. Turmeric may offer a helpful complementary treatment for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
About this Author
Juniper Russo Tarascio, a natural health consultant, has been writing professionally since April 2008. Since then, she has published over 1,000 articles for both print-based and online publications. Her primary writing interests include health, pets and natural living.