It is difficult to imagine Indian cooking without the use of turmeric powder. However, cooking is only one of turmeric’s many important uses. For many hundreds of years, turmeric has been used in the treatment of infection, inflammation, arthritis, digestive disorders (for example, to relieve gas and bloating), and also for cosmetic purposes. Although scientific evidence may not support its uses, turmeric supplements are now being prescribed as a part of modern integrative medicine.
Curcumin, an extract of turmeric used in capsules, is a powerful antioxidant. Its potent antioxidant properties not only neutralize free radicals involved in oxidative damage, but also stimulate the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties that inhibit inflammation at the molecular level, and moreover, without the side effects of an anti-inflammatory drug. Many common brain disorders like depression, Alzheimers, etc, occur due to the decrease in the levels of the hormone BDNF or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, in the brain. It has been observed that curcumin can increase the levels of BDNF in the brain, thus delaying or reversing age-related diseases and degenerative processes in brain function.
Turmeric capsules help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. Curcumin aids in improving the function of the endothelium, or the lining of the blood vessels, to regulate blood pressure and other factors affecting heart disease. In one study, patients undergoing artery bypass surgery, who took 4 grams of curcumin per day, experienced a 65% decreased risk of heart attack in hospital.
Some forms of cancer too appear to be affected by curcumin supplements by reducing the growth and spread of tumors, as well as by contributing to the death of cancerous cells. It is possible that they may even prevent the occurrence of cancer in the first place.
Turmeric supplements in the form of ayurvedic or herbal capsules are now available in the market. It is believed that curcumin capsules are to be taken with black pepper or its constituent piperine so as to be well absorbed into the bloodstream. Also, to experience its complete effects, significant amounts of curcumin in the extract are required to be present.
The above mentioned uses have made curcumin a popular anti-aging supplement with obvious benefits for longevity. To conclude, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric supplements could have effects that go far beyond just preventing a disease.
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