What Is Turmeric? Benefits of Turmeric and It’s Active Compound Curcumin
Turmeric has become a popular supplement today, widely recognized for its anti-inflammatory benefits. While turmeric certainly does help reduce inflammation, that's not all this amazing herb can do.
In this article, we'll discuss the many benefits of turmeric.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a flowering plant in the same family as ginger. The underground root of the plant is commonly used as a culinary spice and as a medicinal herb. While often referred to as turmeric root, the part used in food and medicine is the rhizome. A rhizome is a stem that grows horizontally underground and sends out both roots and shoots of the plant.
The rhizome of the turmeric plant contains potent plant compounds. One compound, in particular, is especially renowned for its medicinal benefits. This compound is "curcumin," It is among the most widely researched plant compounds in history.
While turmeric and turmeric curcumin benefits have been studied extensively in modern times, turmeric is an ancient medicinal herb that has been utilized for centuries—particularly in Ayurveda, India's traditional system of medicine.
What Is Turmeric Curcumin Good For?
Turmeric and its active compound curcumin have many different uses. Turmeric is perhaps most widely used as a culinary spice. The antioxidants in turmeric spice give curry its deep orange color. Turmeric is primarily used in Indian cuisine and Indian medicine (Ayurveda). It has been used traditionally to strengthen the body, improve energy, improve digestion, relieve gas, dispel worms, regulate menstruation, and relieve arthritis. In modern times, turmeric and turmeric curcumin are commonly in use for reducing levels of inflammation in the body.
What Are the Benefits of Turmeric?
Turmeric is a plant with an impressive number of benefits. Some of the top turmeric benefits include:
Turmeric Has Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Perhaps the most well-known use of turmeric is for its anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are due to the bioactive compound "curcumin" found within the plant's rhizome. Curcumin benefits inflammation more than any herbal compound studied to date. It is one of the most studied active compounds, with hundreds, perhaps even thousands of studies showing the anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin. Curcumin is also what gives turmeric its vibrant yellow-orange color.
Inflammation is a natural response of the immune system. It helps to protect the body from injury or infections caused by various pathogens. In the short-term, inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process. Long-term, however, inflammation can begin to impair essential body functions.
Long-term or "chronic" inflammation is considered one of the primary root causes of many major diseases. Therefore, reducing inflammation in the body can reduce the risk of developing diseases caused by prolonged inflammation.
Of course, it is essential to look into why inflammation may be present in the body in the first place and to remove whatever factors may be causing inflammation. Supplementing with an anti-inflammatory herb like turmeric can offer further support in helping to lower overall inflammation levels in the body.
However, there is an issue with the curcumin compound that is often not discussed and often not understood by most people taking turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties. The problem is that the curcumin compound has a very low absorption rate into the blood. Studies show that it is about 5%. This low bioavailability means that 95% of the compound is lost in the digestive tract, providing minimal benefit.
The bioavailability of curcumin is enhanced slightly by combining it with any herb that contains piperine, such as black pepper or fenugreek. Piperine works by increasing membrane fluidity in your intestines, making it easier for micronutrients to be absorbed into your body.
However, even with piperine, curcumin absorption is typically still reasonably low. Thankfully, new advances in herbal formulation have solved this issue. With liposomal technology, the curcumin compound can be extracted and formulated so that it absorbs instantly into the bloodstream, bypassing the harsh environment of the digestive tract where most of the curcumin compound is lost.
Our Liposomal Curcumin Tonic is a unique formula that uses the full spectrum of the turmeric plant, including the turmeric curcumin compound, turmeric juice powder, and turmeric oil, to get you the maximum benefits that this amazing plant has to offer.
Our formula also combines organic fenugreek, which like black pepper, contains piperine that activates the curcumin compound, making it much more effective. We also added organic Berberis Aristata and Ashwagandha for added adaptogenic and immune-boosting properties.†
Turmeric Has Adaptogenic Properties
Turmeric is also known to be a potent adaptogen. Adaptogens are a select group of herbs that support the body's natural ability to deal with stress. These herbs are considered adaptogens because they aid our bodies in adapting and responding to, or recovering from, both short-term and long-term physical or mental stress. Research on adaptogens shows that they may combat fatigue, improve immunity, enhance cognitive performance, and ease depression and anxiety.
Adaptogens work at a molecular level by regulating a stable balance in the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands, all involved in the stress response. Essentially, they work by "hacking" the stress response in the body.
Whenever we experience stress, whether physical or psychological, our bodies go through general adaptation syndrome (GAS). This response includes three distinct stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Adaptogens have a stimulating effect that helps us fight off tiredness and fatigue and stay in the resistance phase longer. These effects help us better adapt to stressful situations and overcome them, rather than experiencing burnout or fatigue.
Turmeric May Improve Mood and Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Turmeric also appears to have benefits for mental health. Studies on the curcumin compound have found that it may help treat anxiety and other mood disorders. This is due to turmeric's unique ability to boost serotonin and dopamine levels. Serotonin and dopamine are both neurotransmitters associated with feelings of happiness and well-being.
According to one study investigating the antidepressant properties of turmeric, "The neurochemical analysis revealed that curcumin (20–80 mg/kg, i.p.) dose-dependently increased the serotonin (5-HT) levels. It also increased dopamine levels, but the effect was observed only at higher doses."
Many mood disorders and anxiety have been linked to low serotonin levels. As curcumin appears to influence serotonin levels in the brain positively, it could play a positive role in treating these mood disorders. In addition, turmeric's adaptogenic properties may also benefit mood disorders as it can help the body better adapt to stress by altering the body's stress response.
Turmeric May Improve Gut Health
Research suggests that turmeric may also offer benefits to gut health. In Ayurveda, turmeric has long been used as a remedy for improving digestion. Modern research on the digestive benefits of turmeric has found that turmeric can help with gut inflammation and gut permeability, both of which are standard measures of the health and efficiency of the digestive system.
Because turmeric has the unique ability to lower inflammation throughout the body successfully, it may also help lower inflammation in the gut. This benefit is significant as gut inflammation is one of the major symptoms of most chronic digestive disorders.
Turmeric May Support Cardiovascular Health
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world today. While many complex factors can contribute to heart disease, one of the significant factors is a dysfunction of the endothelium—which is the lining of your blood vessels. When endothelium does not function properly, it cannot regulate your blood pressure and blood clotting, increasing your risk of heart disease. Studies on curcumin have found that it may support cardiovascular health by improving the function of the endothelium.
Turmeric May Improve Cognitive Health
Curcumin may be able to improve cognitive health and reduce the risk of mental diseases in several ways. Reducing inflammation levels in the brain and boosting serotonin are two significant ways turmeric contributes to cognitive health. However, research has discovered another impressive benefit of turmeric. According to numerous studies, curcumin may be able to boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a gene that is involved in making a protein that promotes the life of neurons.
This protein plays a role in memory and learning, and low levels of BDNF have been associated with mood disorders and cognitive disorders. By boosting BDNF, curcumin may effectively delay or reverse many cognitive diseases and age-related decreases in cognitive function.
What Are the Active Compounds in Turmeric?
The medicinal properties of plants are primarily attributed to their bioactive compounds. The main active compound in turmeric is curcumin. What is curcumin exactly? It is a type of curcuminoid, a group of active compounds found in turmeric that includes curcumin, also known as diferuloylmethane, and two other curcuminoids, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Turmeric contains beneficial essential oils with medicinal properties as well.
Curcumin vs. Turmeric, Which Is Better?
It depends on the intended use. Turmeric is undoubtedly better for cooking or making any culinary dish and is a great way to get some of the benefits of this plant subtly and gently. However, a curcumin extract will contain much more of the curcumin compound and is much better for medicinal use. In addition, a liposomal curcumin tonic will provide the most bioavailable form of curcumin, offering the most anti-inflammatory benefits.
Is Turmeric Safe?
Turmeric is considered a very safe herb and has been used both medicinally and as a culinary spice for thousands of years. In some cases, people may experience mild stomach discomfort from taking turmeric, but it typically does not cause side effects. Curcumin is also a very safe and well-studied extract. However, possible curcumin side effects include nausea and diarrhea, especially when taken in high doses.
Turmeric is an ancient plant used for thousands of years as both a medicinal herb and a culinary spice. It has also been widely researched today for its many health benefits. However, the most notable use of turmeric, and the one most often researched, is its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
The medicinal properties of turmeric are primarily attributed to the curcumin compound found within the plant's rhizome. While turmeric has many benefits, the top benefits of turmeric include:
- Reducing inflammation
- Acting as an adaptogen
- Improving mood
- Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Improving gut health
- Reducing the risk of heart disease
- Improving cognitive function
Turmeric has been safely used for centuries. However, some people experience mild stomach discomfort from taking turmeric. Possible curcumin side effects include nausea and diarrhea, but these typically only occur with high doses.
Of all the medicinal herbs and supplements available, turmeric stands out as one of the best. It has a wide range of uses and supports the health of the body and mind in unique and powerful ways.