December 04, 2012

Kitchen Pantry Series: 2. Turmeric - Modern Take on Ancient Spice

Turmeric, a long-used ancient spice in eastern cultures, has shown in recent research to help with arthritis, inflammation, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and even digestion and weight loss.  Turmeric is commonly used in eastern curry dishes.  The most highly recognized component of turmeric is curcumin which gives turmeric (and the dishes it is used in) its yellow color.  Here’s a summary of some of the potential health benefits of turmeric.

Curcumin is turmeric’s “anti-inflammatory” ingredient which has been shown to influence more than 700 genes and can inhibit the activity and synthesis of COX-2 and 5-LOX which are enzymes implicated in inflammation.  Turmeric has even shown to benefit rheumatoid arthritis which is commonly believed to be progressive and irreversable.  Here’s a link to Mercola’s article on the benefits of curcumin to RA.

In another Mercola article, he reveals some research that points to potential benefits of a combination of turmeric and vitamin D3 in helping Alzheimer’s patients.  Some of turmeric’s powerful benefit to the brain and immune system is in its enhanced anti-oxidant properties; 5- to 8 times stronger than vitamin C and E.  Other research has also shown turmeric’s potential ability to help inhibit the accumulations of beta amyloids, associated with the plague build-up common in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Turmeric may be the most researched natural ingredient for its anti-cancer properties.  A 2008 study found that curcumin inhibits breast cancer cell motility and invasion.  A 2009 study found that curcumin inhibits pancreatic cell growth.  Another 2009 study found that curcumin induces cell death in lung cancer. In 2010, a study showed that curcumin has the potential to target cancer stem cells.  These are just a few of th studies.  For more information search “curcumin” at

Turmeric may also help with weight loss and keeping those pounds off after you lose them.  In one European study, turmeric interacted signal transduction pathways that may help reverse insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipenemia, and other inflammatory symptoms associated with obesity and metabolic disorders.

Turmeric is a wonderful tonic for the body as well as a delicious spice.  The benefits go on and on including heart, brain, and liver health.