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Turmeric – The Wonder Herb
Turmeric (curcuma longa) has been used for over 4000 years in India, where it was most likely used as a dye. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed its miraculous health benefits.
Often referred to as the “Queen of Spices,” its main characteristics are a pepper-like aroma, sharp taste and golden color. People across the globe use this herb in their cooking. It contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also loaded with many healthy nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. Due to all these factors, turmeric is often used to treat a wide variety of health problems.
Turmeric can help prevent prostate cancer, stop the growth of existing prostate cancer, and even destroy cancer cells. Multiple researchers have found that the active components in turmeric make it one of the best protectors against radiation-induced tumors. It also has a preventive effect against tumor cells such as T-cell leukemia, colon carcinomas and breast carcinomas.
The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric are great for treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, turmeric’s antioxidant property destroys free radicals in the body that damage body cells. Consuming turmeric on a regular basis relieves moderate to mild joint pains as well as joint inflammation.
Turmeric can be used in the treatment of diabetes by helping to moderate insulin levels. It also improves glucose control and increases the effect of medications used to treat diabetes. It helps reduce insulin resistance, which may prevent the onset of type-2 diabetes. However, when combined with strong medications, turmeric can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It is best to consult a healthcare professional before taking turmeric capsules.
Research has proven that using turmeric as a food seasoning can reduce serum cholesterol levels. It is a known fact that high cholesterol can lead to other serious health problems. Maintaining a proper cholesterol level can prevent many cardiovascular diseases.
Turmeric contains a substance known as lipopolysaccharide, which helps stimulate the body’s immune system. Its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents also help strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system lessens the chance of suffering from colds, flu and coughs. If you do get a cold, a cough or the flu, you can feel better sooner by mixing one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk and drinking it once daily.
Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used as an effective disinfectant. If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process. Turmeric also helps repair damaged skin and may be used to treat psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Turmeric powder can be very helpful in maintaining an ideal body weight. A component present in turmeric helps increase the flow of bile, an important component in the breakdown of dietary fat. Those who wish to lose weight or treat obesity and other associated diseases can benefit from having one teaspoon of turmeric powder with every meal.
Turmeric supports overall brain health by aiding in the removal of plaque build-up in the brain and improving the flow of oxygen. This can also prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Many key components in turmeric stimulate the gallbladder to produce bile, which then improves digestion and reduces symptoms of bloating and gas. Also, turmeric is helpful in treating most forms of inflammatory bowel disease including ulcerative colitis. However it is important to bear in mind that people suffering from any kind of gallbladder disease should not take turmeric as a dietary supplement as it may worsen the condition. It is best to consume turmeric in raw form when suffering from a digestive problem.
Turmeric is a kind of natural liver detoxifier. The liver detoxifies the blood through the production of enzymes and turmeric increases production of these vital enzymes. Turmeric also is believed to invigorate and improve blood circulation.
Antioxidants help to protect the body from free radicals. The curcumin component of turmeric exhibits strong antioxidant activity, comparable to vitamins like C and E. Turmeric’s hepato-protective effect (ability to prevent damage to the liver) is mainly a result of its antioxidant properties, as well as its ability to decrease the formation of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Turmeric helps to purify and nourish the blood and skin. External application of turmeric stops pain and swelling, heals wounds rapidly, and treats many skin diseases ranging from acne to leprosy. The classic way to apply turmeric is as a blend of turmeric, chick-pea flour (besan), almond oil, a little fresh cream and honey. This helps to clear up skin blemishes, and increase the natural glow of the skin.
- For throat infection, a teaspoon of turmeric powder boiled in two cups of water and strained is a very effective remedy. The liquid should be gargled.
- Boil a teaspoon of carom seeds in a cup of water with a teaspoon of turmeric. Add honey and have about 1/4 cups 2 – 4 times a day for cough and chest infections. A glass of hot milk with a tsp each of turmeric and honey relieves congestion and cough, when taken on an empty stomach.
- A teaspoon of turmeric in a glass of hot water, with a pinch of rock salt, drunk while still hot gives immediate relief from flatulence.
- For liver problems like jaundice, 1/4th of a teaspoon of turmeric stirred in a glass of warm water taken thrice a day with a little jaggery is very beneficial as turmeric has antiseptic as well as healing properties.
- For scabies, take equal quantity of neem (fresh or dry) and turmeric powder. Mix this with mustard oil. Apply on body for an hour and then wash. Do this till the lesions have healed.
- Applying the juice of ground raw turmeric is very good for fungal infections.
- Turmeric on wounds and cuts makes them heal quite quickly.