Time for Turmeric!

Turmeric. I have real difficulty spelling it. It’s orangey-yellow as and will stain your cooking implements and meals. It tastes pretty ok, but not wonderful, which seems weirdly predictable for stuff that’s meant to be good for you (I’m looking at you, kale and beetroot). But it’s currently riding a wave of popularity heretofore unprecedented for a spice. What’s the deal?

I honestly didn’t know. I vaguely remembered reading something Dr Greger had written about it. Something about cancer perhaps, or maybe it was inflammation. And I’d seen videos of people doing turmeric shots. Given that it’s really cheap, fulfils the not-so-tasty-so-liable-to-be-healthy criterion, and that turmeric shots seemed to be something I could emulate pretty easily at home I thought I’d give it a try this month as well. Whenever I can remember I’ve been downing a teaspoon or so a day. But why?

Turns out I may not have been so silly after all. Just for your reading pleasure (and maybe a little for my own reassurance), I conducted a review of the benefits of turmeric as outlined on Dr Greger’s nutritionfacts.org website. Here we go:

Blood vessel health

Researchers in Japan found that a teaspoon of turmeric a day for 8 weeks boosted endothelial cell (little cells on the inside of our blood vessels) function to a comparable extent as 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise. Hmm… I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking that too (pass the turmeric shot!) but rather unsurprisingly things get even better if we do both. Still, that’s a win for turmeric.

Inflammation

Wow. Here we go… Curcumin (the yellow pigment found in turmeric) actually beat the leading drug of choice in alleviating pain for people with rheumatoid (autoimmune) arthritis in one study, while unsurprisingly managing to have fewer side effects. When added to a standard drug regimen, curcumin has been shown to reduce relapses in people with ulcerative colitis (an inflammatory condition of the gut). In people with osteoarthritis of the knee, it did as well or better than ibuprofen. In another study a quarter teaspoon of turmeric taken with meals appeared very effective in treating inflammation of the kidneys caused by the autoimmune disease lupus. People given turmeric after they had ‘key-hole’ surgery used fewer painkillers and had lower fatigue scores.

Cancer

Ok, this is getting a bit crazy now but turmeric appears to lower the DNA-mutating ability of cancer-causing substances, and to be able to switch back on the self-destruct mechanism within cancer cells. It may reduce changes in the gut that can lead to bowel cancer, and even help some patients with pancreatic cancer.

I haven’t covered everything (there may actually be even more benefits) and if you’re after all the finer details you can find them and references to the original research on nutritionfacts.org.

As almost always, further research on turmeric is needed. But it seems highly likely that getting some turmeric in our day is a good idea, for one reason or another. So, in the meantime… Shots!!

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