Turmeric is a perennial, rhizomatous plant native to India, Southeast Asia and South Asia. It is a very common spice and an important spice in Asian cuisine. The rhizomes are famously used in cooking as it imparts a lot of flavor to food. The fresh rhizomes are sundried and ground into turmeric powder and stored in an airtight container. The powder is yellowish-orange in color and has a warm, earthy aroma. It is commonly known as the Indian Saffron and Golden spice. Turmeric is also used as a natural dye.
There are many health benefits of Turmeric. The active principle in Turmeric is Curcumin which imparts the characteristic bright yellow color. The active compound in turmeric, Curcumin, shows antimicrobial properties, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The various health benefits of turmeric through scientific evidence include reduction in blood pressure, improves inflammatory bowel disease, decreases risk of heart disease, reduces chronic inflammation, improves blood sugar levels, helps ease joint pain, useful for ulcerative colitis, for inflammatory skin diseases, fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, slows down neurodegenerative diseases, general inflammatory diseases and chronic diseases.
In Ayurvedic medicine and traditional medicine, turmeric is known as "Pancha Mahakashaya" or "five precious herbs". It is one of the most important ingredients in Indian cuisine. In traditional Chinese medicine , it's called "Huáng qiān", and is considered an adaptogen that can be used to treat stress and anxiety.
Medicinal properties and potential health benefits of turmeric:
1) Antioxidant effects:
Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, possesses potent antioxidant activity.
2) Anti-Inflammatory properties:
Effects of Curcumin from human studies show that Curcumin inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. It decreases the inflammatory conditions by improving blood circulation.
Curcumin exhibits antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, and anticancer activities.
Curcumin protects against hepatotoxicity induced by acetaminophen and carbon tetrachloride.
Curcuma longa extract has been shown to protect neurons from oxidative damage caused by glutamate toxicity.
It enhances immune response.
Curcumol, a major constituent of turmeric oil, has been reported to reduce heart disease like myocardial infarction when the right doses of turmeric oil was administered before coronary artery occlusion.
Curcumins have been found to inhibit gastric ulcers induced by ethanol and indomethacin.
Curcuminoids have been shown to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
Effects of Turmeric extracts with Curcumin have been shown to possess antitumor effects both in vitro and in vivo.
Curcumin was found to lower plasma glucose level.
Curcumin suppresses adipogenesis.
13) Anti-Alzheimer’s Disease:
Curcumin may prevent Alzheimer’s disease via inhibition of amyloid beta aggregation.
Curcuma Longa extract has been shown to increase serotonin concentration in the brain and induce antidepressant like effect.
Curcumin is effective against herpes simplex virus type 1 , human immunodeficiency virus , hepatitis B virus , and influenza virus.
Curcumin prevents angiotensin II-induced hypertension.
17) Antiproliferative and Anticarcinogenic:
Curcumin induces apoptosis of cancer cells and kills the cancerous cells and checks the cancer growth.
Curcumin shows antimicrobial properties against bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and protozoa.
Curcuminoids inhibit thrombin generation and prolong activated partial thromboplastin time and prevents blood clotting.
The use of turmeric dates back to the Vedic culture nearly 4000 years ago where it was used as a culinary spice and also has religious significance. Turmeric is considered a natural medicine due to its many health benefits and positive effects on the body. Turmeric is used commonly is preparations of curries and many savory dishes. The different amounts of turmeric in a dish alters the flavor of the dish greatly due to its strong taste and aroma. Turmeric has been used from ages in cooking by our ancestors as it improves health conditions. It is a common ingredient in curry powder.
Turmeric milk benefits: Traditionally one teaspoon of turmeric powder is added to one glass of milk to get golden milk and consumed before sleeping at night to prevent cold, as a natural blood purifier, to boost immunity, for weight loss and for skin problems.
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