5 health benefits of turmeric, the golden spice

With the outbreak of the coronavirus infection in Nepal, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been reiterating the use of turmeric and hot water could contribute to the treatment of coronavirus. Many people made fun of him for the comments.

How effective the concoction of turmeric, hot water, and other spices will be in the treatment of a Covid-19 patient is yet to be studied, but it is no secret that turmeric has an abundance of medicinal properties as well.

Turmeric is mandatory in most of Nepali and Indian curries. Adding it into any curry or drink gives the dishes a vibrant yellow-orange colour and an earthy bitter flavour instantly. This is why this principal spice is also known as Indian saffron or golden spice.

Botanically, turmeric (Curcuma longa) belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, the same family where other healthy spices like ginger and cardamom fall. This natural herb, native to Southeast Asia is used in both ayurvedic and modern medicines. Not only this, but the turmeric is also used in cosmetics.

Mostly, ground powder of the dried turmeric rhizomes is consumed in Nepal, but in some cases, fresh rhizomes are also useful. Curcumin, the main bio-active compound in turmeric, has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin has also been attributed to a number of therapeutic properties in modern medicine.

Here, let’s check out what medicinal properties turmeric has to offer to humankind.


Lowers risk of heart diseases

Curcumin, the main active constituent of turmeric, has many protective effects on the heart functioning. This includes lowering cholesterol, triglyceride, decreasing susceptibility of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to lipid peroxidation, inhibiting platelet aggregation, and improving the function of the endothelium, a thin lining that covers the blood vessels.

 In a 2009 report titled ‘The protective role of curcumin in cardiovascular diseases’, it is mentioned that curcumin’s antioxidant properties can prevent cardiovascular complexities and may attenuate cardiotoxicity induced by adriamycin. It is also stated in the same report that the anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic, anti-proliferative properties and the property to lower the serum cholesterol that curcumin constitutes may protect against the pathological changes occurring with atherosclerosis.


Reduces inflammation and pain

One of the most known health benefits of turmeric is reducing inflammation and relieving pain. The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric have also been proven by several studies. Various clinical trials have shown that curcumin may help in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, and chronic anterior uveitis.

Also, in a research study, it has been concluded that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen are less potent anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative agents than curcumin.

Photo: Flickr


Improves brain functions

Curcumin can also contribute to improving brain functions by boosting the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a kind of growth hormone in the brain, and also by decreasing the risk of various brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Also, in epidemiologic data, it was reported that persons consuming turmeric regularly may have a better cognitive function in healthy elderly.


Treats liver ailments

Turmeric (curcumin, in particular) has anti-oxidant effects. This very property of turmeric is believed to prevent as well as treat various liver diseases induced by oxidative stress through various cellular and molecular mechanisms.


Fights cancer

It is believed that curcumin is beneficial in the treatment of various kinds of cancer like colorectal, breast, pancreatic, gastric, and prostate cancers.

A review published in 2008 marked that curcumin ‘inhibits the proliferation of various tumor cells in culture, prevents carcinogen-induced cancers in rodents, and inhibits the growth of human tumors in xenotransplant or orthotransplant animal models either alone or in combination with chemotherapeutic agents or radiation.’

Also, in another study published in 2009, it is concluded that curcumin can kill various tumour cells.

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