If, for some reason, I had to pick only one supplement to take, turmeric would most likely be my first choice because the many health benefits of turmeric are important to whole body health. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both Chinese and Indian medicine. Traditionally, turmeric was named “Indian saffron” because of its deep yellow-orange color and all through history has been as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye. Turmeric is best known as one of the ingredients in curry and it also gives mustard its bright yellow color. Native to Indonesia and southern India, turmeric has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. It has served an important role in many traditional cultures throughout the East and is considered an important member of Ayurvedic pharmacopeia.
Health Benefits of Turmeric and Alzheimer’s Disease
Studies suggest that curcumin, which is the biologically active constituent in turmeric, protects against Alzheimer’s disease by turning on a gene that codes for the production of antioxidant proteins. A study published in the Italian Journal of Biochemistry (December 2003) discussed curcumin’s role in the induction of the the heme oxygenase pathway, a protective system that, when triggered in brain tissue, causes the production of the potent antioxidant bilirubin, which protects the brain against oxidative (free radical) injury. Such oxidation is thought to be a major factor in aging and to be responsible for neurodegenerative disorders including dementias like Alzheimer’s disease. Another study conducted jointly by an Italian and U.S. team and presented at the American Physiological Society’s 2004 annual conference in Washington, DC, confirmed that curcumin strongly induces expression of the gene, called hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) in astrocytes from the hippocampal region of the brain.
The most active ingredient in turmeric root, bisdemethoxycurcumin, boosts the activity of the immune system in Alzheimer’s patients, helping them to clear the amyloid beta plaques characteristic of the disease. In healthy patients, immune cells called macrophages, which engulf and destroy abnormal cells and suspected pathogens, efficiently clear amyloid beta, but macrophage activity seems to be suppressed in Alzheimer’s patients.
Using blood samples from Alzheimer’s patients, Drs. Milan Fiala and John Cashman have shown that bisdemethoxycurcumin boosts macrophage activity to normal levels, helping to clear amyloid beta. They also found that bisdemethoxycurcumin was more effective in promoting the clearance of amyloid beta in some patients’ blood than others, which hints that a genetic element may be involved. More study showed the genes involved are MGAT III and Toll-like receptors, which are also responsible for a number of other key immune functions. Bisdemethoxycurcumin enhances the transcription of these genes, correcting the immune defects seen in Alzheimer’s patients. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 31;104(31):12849-54.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
- produces anti-inflammatory effects that rival those of hydrocortisone & ibuprofen
- improves blood circulation
- supports & detoxifies liver
- natural antiseptic & antibacterial agent
- prevents metastases of many cancers
- natural painkiller & cox-2 inhibitor
- may help with cystic fibrosis
- aids in fat metabolism
- natural support for arthritis & rheumatoid arthritis
- inhibits growth of new blood vessels in tumors
- speeds up wound healing
- may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease
- reduces risk of childhood Leukemia
- powerful antioxidant
- supports healthy cholesterol
- supports healthy digestion
- supports healthy eyes
- may help with depression
- helps to stabilize blood sugar levels
Ways to Cook Healthy with Turmeric
Your liver’s ability to clear LDL-cholesterol is very important. You can help out your liver by using turmeric to spice up sautéed onions, potatoes and/or cauliflower and also as the main flavor for a creamy vegetable dip. Mix plain organic yogurt with a little omega-3-rich mayonnaise and turmeric, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with raw veggies such as cauliflower, celery, sweet pepper, jicama and broccoli florets. Always choose organic turmeric rather than prepared curry blends. Recent research indicates the amount of turmeric (and therefore curcumin) in curry blends is often minimal. (Tayyem RF et al.,Nutr Cancer)
Another way to incorporate the benefits of turmeric in your healthy diet is to cut cauliflower florets in half and healthy sauté with a generous spoonful of turmeric for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with cold-pressed olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Creamy Turmeric Tea Recipe
(makes 1 cup of tea)
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2-inch wide round slice of ginger root, peeled & finely chopped
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 – 1 teaspoon raw honey
Optional add-ins: cinnamon, cardamom
Gently warm the milk on the stove. In a mug, combine the remaining ingredients. Drizzle a teaspoon of the warmed milk into the mug & mix until the liquid is smooth with no lumps. Add the rest of the milk & mix well. You can leave the pieces of ginger in the tea, or strain it out before drinking.
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†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.