Even though this is clearly an article about the health benefits of turmeric and I spent a fair amount of time researching them, it is also a Jack’s Smack blog post because I am a true believer in this nutritional supplement. I say ‘supplement’ because that is how I personally incorporate it into my diet. I cannot consume enough foods in my daily diet that would include the natural turmeric spice, so I have chosen the supplement route.
First, for those of you who may not yet know; turmeric is the spice most commonly found in curry (Indian cuisine) and it gives the curry its yellow color. It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb. Recent studies have concluded that yes, indeed, turmeric does provide compounds with medicinal properties.
At 53 I suddenly developed severe arthritis in my hands. The pain had become so great that I could no longer open jars, life weights, or even pass a plate of food across the table to someone. I had to do something; so I began researching my options and the active ingredient, curcumin, in turmeric, kept popping up. Apparently, curcumin was getting lauded in the medical community due to its potent anti-inflammatory abilities. Now, having something help with inflammation is akin to finding the fountain of youth when you’re at that level of pain and disfunction.
It also seems that inflamation is a big issue and concern for us as we age.
“Human aging is characterized by a chronic, low-grade inflammation, and this phenomenon has been termed as “inflammaging.” Inflammaging is a highly significant risk factor for both morbidity and mortality in the elderly people, as most if not all age-related diseases share an inflammatory pathogenesis.”
Curcumin is believed to be one of the strongest pharmaceutical options for reducing inflammation. For this reason, consuming turmeric is often suggested for the reduction of arthritic pain, gout, and muscle pain following exercise or injury. Turmeric is available in supplements taken orally, as well as, topical.
Now, is all inflammation bad? The answer is no. Acute (short-term) inflammation is important and helpful to the human body. Without any inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us. Inflammation is designed to fight off foreign bodies and plays a major role in repairing damage. Sadly, it can inappropriately begin attacking our own body’s tissue and causes many of what we consider ‘Western’ diseases, such as; heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions.
Turmeric and it’s powerful active ingredient curcumin, are also praised for various and sundry other health benefits. Everything from body detoxification, to soothing menstrual issues, to cancer prevention. Cognitune Smarter Health has a nice summary of “10 Health Benefits and Uses for Turmeric Curcumin Supplements”. The topic merits additional exploration, which I will leave to another time.
I know, once again, I am an ‘n’ of one. But, I am certain that the turmeric supplement I consume does indeed relieve my disabling arthritic pain. I, once again, can pop open that jar of olives – I like two in my martini, please; and, I am happy to pass the mashed potatoes at dinner time.