Turmeric is one of my absolute favorite spices. It is both a great supplement as well as an excellent ingredient for cooking. The primary chemical in turmeric that promotes multiple health benefits is curcumin. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In high doses. It can be more powerful than taking ibuprofen, as well as being safer. Recent research is discovering that curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and may help fight various degenerative processes in your brain.
Curcumin has also been shown to help reverse some forms of heart disease. The studies have focused on the linings of the blood vessels, called the endothelium. When the endothelium becomes dysfunctional the body cannot properly regulate blood pressure and blood clotting creating heart disease.
For even more good news, curcumin may help prevent cancer, by promoting healthy changes to the cells in many tissues. It has also been shown to help slow cancer cells and reduce the spread of cancer.
More research is needed to confirm these results, and the dosing of the curcumin is more than you can get out of dietary turmeric. Eating turmeric rich foods such as curries is still a great idea, however, for the bioavailability of the curcumin, much more is needed. One of my favorite treats is homemade turmeric or golden tea. Click here for the recipe.
Curcumin is also very poorly absorbed on its own. Black pepper can significantly increase the bioavailability of curcumin as well as other chemicals. Before purchasing supplements of curcumin, check with your licensed health care provider to find the best curcumin for your health needs. Most curcumin supplements found today are not tested for bioavailability and may have unwanted inactive ingredients such as heavy metals.
For more information and links to the studies click here and here.