Turmeric is an herb. This description, however, raises another question; what is an herb? An herb is defined as a plant with no woody stem and is used for its medicinal, fragrance, or even culinary purposes.
Turmeric plant grows in soggy, warm climates and is native to Southern Asia. Countries such as India, Australia, Fiji, and Sri Lanka have the best climate for growing of turmeric.
Turmeric is also used as a spice and provides color to foods and cosmetics due to the rich yellowish color of its main ingredient, curcuminoids. The turmeric plant is extremely branched and reaches up to 1 meter in height.
As a dye, turmeric is commonly used in Buddhist monk’s robes and Indian clothing known as saris.
Health Benefits Of Turmeric
Turmeric has many health benefits, the following are some of the uses of turmeric:
1. Reduces osteoarthritis pain
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis and it occurs as a result of wearing out of protective cartilage found on the end of your bones. Studies have shown that when people suffering from osteoarthritis use turmeric extracts alone or in a mixture with other herbs, the pain reduces significantly.
Turmeric is also associated with enhanced activity in persons with knee osteoarthritis. When it comes to the effectiveness of the reduction of osteoarthritis pain, turmeric can be compared to ibuprofen.
2. Reduces depression
Depression is a disorder that negatively affects how you act, how you feel, and the way you think. Persons suffering from this disorder feel unhappy, have low moods, and lack enthusiasm. Studies have shown that a chemical found in turmeric known as curcumin helps to reduce depression in persons who are already taking antidepressants.
3. Reduces itching
Itching refers to an irritating sensation on the skin that makes people scratch themselves. There are a lot of health disorders that can cause your body to itch and some of them include eczema, insect bites, kidney failure, liver disease, diabetes, anxiety, and certain cancers. Studies have shown that using turmeric regularly reduces itching in persons with long-term kidney disease.
4. Reduces hay fever
Hay fever is a common allergic condition that is characterized by symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, and a running nose. Curcumin found in turmeric helps to reduce the symptoms associated with hay fever.
5. Improves mental function
There are many causes of the decline in mental function and some of them include emotional issues, medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, substance abuse, physical injury, and aging.
Curcumin found in turmeric has been found to improve memory in aging persons already suffering from memory loss.
6. Reduces the chances of getting gum disease
Gum disease refers to an inflammation of the gum line that if not treated spreads to the bone supporting your teeth. This condition has three stages which are gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Some of the signs to look out for include tender or swollen gums, loose teeth, bleeding gum, and extremely sensitive teeth.
Studies have shown that when persons suffering from gingivitis use turmeric as a mouthwash, it drastically brings down both the bacteria levels and gum disease.
7. Reduces the risk of prostate cancer recurrence or progression
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancers affecting men and it affects the prostate. Turmeric has been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer recurrence or even progression but it does not do this alone. For it to work it has to be part of a formula that includes pomegranate whole fruit powder, green tea extract, and broccoli powder and taken three times a day for about six months.
8. Lowers the risk of heart disease
Heart disease or cardiovascular disease is a condition that involves blocked or narrowed blood vessels. This disease is a serious one as it is one of the leading causes of death globally and it leads to conditions such as stroke, heart attack, or chest pains.
Research has suggested that curcumin found in turmeric may help to reverse many steps in the cardiovascular disease process as it leads to the enhancements in the endothelial activity.
Side Effects Of Turmeric
1. Reduces fertility
When taken by mouth by men, turmeric can lead to decreased sperm movement and reduced testosterone levels. Men who are trying to have a baby should, therefore, use turmeric very carefully as excessive use of the herb can frustrate their efforts.
2. Leads to iron deficiency
Iron is one of the minerals that our bodies cannot perform optimally without. It helps our muscles use and store oxygen, and it’s an essential component of hemoglobin. When turmeric is taken in high large amounts, it forestalls the absorption of iron by the body causing iron deficiency.
3. It thins your blood
Taking turmeric for long periods causes your blood to thin meaning that your blood cannot clot hence you bleed easily. This can affect those who are about to undergo an operation as it makes it risky and dangerous due to excessive bleeding during and after the surgery.
Persons using blood-thinning medication such as rivaroxaban or warfarin should also avoid using turmeric in large amounts as it will make the defeat their purpose.
4. Worsens gallbladder problems
Persons suffering from gallbladder disorders such as bile duct obstruction or gallstones are advised to avoid using turmeric as it can make the issues worse. Gallstones are hardened sediments of digestive fluid that accumulate in the gallbladder and have symptoms such as vomiting or nausea, back pain between your shoulder blades, and abrupt increasing cramp in the upper right section of your abdomen.
Bile duct obstruction, on the other hand, refers to the blockage of one of the ducts that transport bile from the liver to the intestines.
5. It may stimulate contractions
This is one of the reasons why expectant mothers should avoid excessive use of turmeric especially when it is in supplement form. Taking turmeric in spice form and small amounts is, however, safe and healthy. The other reason why you should avoid excessive use of turmeric while you are pregnant is that it exposes you to the danger of excessive bleeding during labor because it causes your blood to thin.
6. It causes digestive issues
Turmeric has been found to cause digestive problems such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea if taken in large amounts. This is because the herb leads to increased secretion of stomach acid which is not good in persons suffering from conditions such as GERD.
Turmeric spice contains modest amounts of curcumin, the chemical responsible for most of its benefits. This means that you can use it in this form as often as you like without having to worry about negative effects.
When turmeric is in supplement form, it contains huge amounts of curcumin meaning that you cannot take it as you will risk having negative effects. Depending on the conditions you are looking to treat, the dosage of turmeric in supplement form ranges from 500-2000 mg per day.