Fall is upon us! The time of colorful leaves, sweater weather, and pumpkin spice everything. How will you warm up this season and avoid the common cold? Have you thought of turmeric tea?
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is single-handedly one of the most beneficial spices to our health, praised for its ability to reduce health issues and/or potentially reverse them. It is among the most researched and discussed medicinal herbs in science.
What is Curcumin?
Turmeric derives from the Curcuma longa plant, grown in India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asian countries. Once it is fully grown, the Curcuma longa root is separated. This is when the yellow-colored turmeric is created by grounding the roots from the Curcuma longa plant, ready to be added to foods—especially Indian curry. The turmeric powder consists of many chemicals known as curcuminoids which treat different types of health conditions. Though used interchangeably with turmeric, the most active substance in the powder is called curcumin, a naturally-occurring chemical compound (reportshealthcare).
Why are Turmeric and Curcumin Useful?
Anti-inflammation: Turmeric/Curcumin is known for its many powerful features. With sparked curiosity, the Oncogene journal published a study that tested the substance’s power versus that of commonly-consumed drugs used for anti-inflammation. Surprisingly, ibuprofen and aspirin were the least effective of the compared drugs. Turmeric was much more effective than ibuprofen and aspirin. In fact, curcumin works against inflammation on a molecular level. It blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and activates anti-inflammatory-related genes. NF-kB is thought to play a major part in many chronic diseases. This is especially important news for people who suffer from diseases such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and diabetes (reportshealthcare and healthline).
Speaking of diabetes, Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications published a study that tested a turmeric supplement against a common diabetes drug, Metformin. Not only was curcumin 400 times more potent than Metformin in activating enzyme AMPK for insulin sensitivity, it also cured some of the most severe effects of diabetes—one being damaged blood vessels (reportshealthcare).
Skin health: Turmeric has been proven to help cure acne and acne scarring because it is loaded with both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals. It also helps control flares and wounds of psoriasis (reportshealthcare).
Eye health: The journal Phytotherapy Research published a study involving patients with chronic anterior uveitis (inflammation of middle eye layer) who, over the course of 12 days, were given 375 milligrams of curcumin three times a day. Within 2 weeks, the patients’ symptoms improved with no reported side effects (prohealth).
Brain Function: Many common brain disorders have been associated with decreased levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a growth hormone in the brain that facilitates the development of new neurons. Curcumin can actually increase the level of this hormone. It is also possible but not proven that curcumin can aid in improving memory. Ethnobotanist and PhD James A. Duke found more than 50 studies on turmeric’s effects in addressing its possibilities with Alzheimer’s disease. Pieces of a protein called beta-amyloid that clump together create plaques in the brain. These plaques cause Alzheimer’s disease. Records reviewed by Duke imply that extracts of turmeric have several agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid. Consequently, there is an indication that this substance can be responsible for limiting or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related degenerations in brain function (prohealth).
According to Cancer Research UK, research has shown that there are low rates of certain cancers in countries where people consume levels of approximately 100-200 milligrams of curcumin daily over long periods of time. A 2007 American study done on mice appeared to stop the spread of breast cancer cells to other regions of the body. Later, a 2013 international lab study observed the effects of a combined treatment of curcumin and chemotherapy on bowel cancer cells. The researchers reported that the treatment might be better than chemotherapy alone (cancerresearchuk). (Perhaps curcumin’s molecular agent has something to do with it). In this case, Duke found turmeric and/or curcumin proved effective in altogether 900 animal models in prevention and/or treatment of colon, prostate, and breast cancer. As promising as recent studies seem, conclusive evidence does not exist to prove that turmeric or curcumin can prevent or treat cancer. Perhaps further research can pave the way for future prevention and treatment.
It is agreeable that turmeric has many beneficial factors. Although research studies have shown few to no side effects, the effects of ingesting turmeric in large quantities to prevent or treat cancer are still unknown (cancerresearchuk). Dr. Mercola of ProHealth believes curcumin is generally safe for human consumption. Proof? A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research evaluated 10 adults taking 490 milligrams of the substance over the course of one week. None of the 10 developed any side effects—not even those with doses up to 1,200-2,100 milligrams. However, there is always that slight chance for negative results and we must be cognizant of the warning signs of curcumin doing more harm than good to our bodies. The negative effects are not limited to but could include headaches, nausea, or a skin rash (prohealth).
If you are interested in taking turmeric supplements, it is highly advised that you contact a licensed physician for the correct dosage.
Back to the tea
This time of year is perfect for cold nights and warm tea (though cold works too). On October 4, 2017, and as part of News 12’s Long Island Naturally segment, reporter Mary Mucci reported from Huntington, NY on remedies for the common cold. Many townspeople gave the green light to more sleep, more water, and you guessed it—turmeric! According to Mucci, “studies show the concentrated extract known as curcumin can dramatically reduce viral replication.” Just another reason to keep turmeric on your radar!
Dr. Weil, MD, America’s well-regarded physician, author, and spokesperson or “guru” of healing body, mind, and spirit alternatives, suggests a simple recipe for a healthy cup of turmeric tea:
- Bring four cups of water to a boil.
- Add one teaspoon of ground turmeric and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup; add honey and/or lemon to taste.
- Add a pinch of black pepper to increase absorption (drweil).
Whether it is through taking turmeric supplements—one of the many products Makers Nutrition manufactures, or eating Indian curry, enough has been proven to safely say curcumin holds nearly guaranteed healing abilities for some people with certain health conditions.
Into fall we dive!