Curcumin is the active ingredient of Turmeric, which comes from the plant Curcuma Longa, which is native to the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia. It is a common ingredient in curry dishes, and has an orange-yellowish color. Turmeric has been used for centuries not only for its culinary benefits, but also as a dye, and in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine, as a healing herb.
In current research, plants are being studied with similar scientific tools and methods as are pharmaceuticals. This enables us to deeply understand their mechanism of action, as well as their possible health benefits. It seems, there are plenty of benefits linked to the consumption of Curcumin.
Two major properties of Curcumin that were validated by extensive research are its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Inflammation is a process by which our bodies secrete immune proteins, and activate various immune cells and mechanisms to help protect the body’s integrity and balance. In modern day society, there are many substances in the food we eat and the air we breathe, as well as other environmental pollutants, that may cause the body to react with an inflammatory response. In this heavily industrialized society, we are also being exposed to substances that impose ‘oxidative stress’ on our bodies on a daily basis. Oxidative stress is a condition in which free oxygen molecules, which are harmful to cells, are released in the cells and tissues. It is a common and normal process that takes place continually in the body and is off-set by defensive, ‘anti oxidative stress’ chemicals that neutralize these potentially harmful molecules. When we are exposed to things that increase the oxidative stress, in the long run it can cause damage to cells and throw the body out of its natural balance.
In regards to these health stressors, Curcumin has wonderful protective qualities: as mentioned, it both offsets the inflammatory reaction and the oxidative stress.
Curcumin has a protective effect against many current medical conditions and imbalances. It has supportive and enhancing properties that help the body function optimally. For example: it boosts the levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in your brain; it has a preventative effect against various diseases of the heart; it leads to several changes on the molecular level that may help prevent and perhaps even treat cancer; it protects the brain from age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, it helps maintain good memory and cognitive capacities at an older age, and helps in keeping the brains’ activity sharp and optimal; it helps treating symptoms of arthritis and is in some cases more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs; it affects mood positively and alleviates symptoms of depression.
Owing to its many positive attributes, it is no wonder that Curcumin has drawn so much attention from scientific and medical professionals and researchers. It is indeed a promising herb that can aid in maintaining supreme health and in preventing and even treating many medical conditions. There are, however, a few points that need to be taken into account when choosing to add Curcumin to one’s health regimen. It is poorly absorbed in the body when it is ingested by itself. The best way to optimize the body’s utilization of Curcmumin is by adding to it Pipperin, or simply by adding some black pepper to it. Pepper seems to improve Curcumin’s absorption many fold, which is why when opting for a product that contains Curcumin, it is wise to choose one that also contains Pipperin. The second point is about safety: as there is some evidence that Curcumin in high doses can aggravate liver and gallbladder problems, people who suffer from such conditions should always consult their physician as to whether taking a Curcumin supplement is safe for them.
To conclude with, here is a traditional Ayurvedic recipe, an energy booster that integrates Curcumin, called “Golden Milk”:
- 1 glass of almond milk
- 1/2 tsp of Curcuma powder (Turmeric)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 4 cardamom seeds
- 8 drops stevia sweetener
- 1/2 tsp cold pressed coconut oil