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Turmeric Benefits: A Spice for Enhancing Your Health (and Food)

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Do you like curry? Turmeric is one of the primary spices that gives the cuisine that distinct spicy, peppery texture.

If this is a spice you would use anyways for the flavor, then you may be glad to learn that turmeric benefits are aplenty. Consider this natural spice in place of highly-processed dressings or condiments — your body will thank you.

What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric is actually a type of flower from the same botanical family as ginger. The flower’s root has been a main staple in India and the Middle East for thousands of years. Aside from use as a natural food flavoring and coloring, it also has a wide range of medicinal properties.

More specifically, it’s the curcumin inside turmeric that holds the curative qualities. Curcumin is a naturally occurring compound in turmeric. People often use the terms turmeric and curcumin interchangeably, and you may find supplements and food products list either one as an ingredient.

Though it’s originally a flower, you will most likely see turmeric sold in powdered form in the stores.

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Turmeric Relieves Pain

One of the most renowned turmeric benefits is its ability to reduce pain. In fact, this anti-inflammatory spice is so potent that some people swear it’s more effective than over-the-counter medications like aspirin and Ibuprofen.

In a 2016 study, researchers concluded that curcumin may be effective for treating joint-related pain. The Arthritis Foundation also supports the use of turmeric for relieving arthritic pain.

On the subject of arthritis, we suggest you also look into type II collagen if joint aches are a daily affair.

READ MORE: Turmeric for Joint Pain: Can This Spice Relieve Arthritis?

Turmeric Reduces Blood Clots

Blood clotting is a common symptom of inflammation. Turmeric has anti-thrombotic — or blood clotting prevention — properties. Curcumin may reduce stroke and heart attack by preventing clogged arteries. It does this by inhibiting platelet aggregation, or the clumping of blood platelets that lead to clotting. Turmeric’s effect as an anticoagulant was confirmed in a 2012 study.

Turmeric Reduces Depression

Are you constantly feeling the blues for no reason? Turmeric benefits extend beyond physical well-being. Curcumin is known to interact with neurotrophic factors (NTF) in the brain. NTFs are a form of peptides that aid in the growth and maturity of brain neurons. Studies show that curcumin induces NTF production and may help treat various central nervous system disorders.

That’s not all; studies also suggest that turmeric may be more effective for treating depression than fluoxetine. If you never heard of the latter, this is the generic form of Prozac.

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In one study, 60 human subjects diagnosed with depression were given curcumin, fluoxetine or a combination of the two. After six weeks, the curcumin group reported just as much improvement in mood as the fluoxetine group. A more extensive study with 108 male subjects yielded similar results.

READ MORE: Top 7 Benefits of Using Turmeric Every Day

While Prozac may be effective for treating mood swings, it also carries risks of side effects. Sensitive users may experience increased appetite, constipation, nausea, decreased sex drive and insomnia. Users of the similar medication Lexapro have also reported similar side effects. Others have reported feeling completely devoid of emotions or that they’re just sloshing through life.

Turmeric has no such side effects.

Turmeric Fights Inflammation

We already discussed curcumin’s inflammation-fighting ability, but it’s worth discussing in more detail because this is a biggie. A huge turmeric benefit is its ability to keep inflammation at bay. Chronic inflammation is a major health killer and can lead to all sorts of serious ailments, including autoimmune disease, ulcers and Crohn’s.

Turmeric contains natural COX-2 inhibitors. COX-2 is an enzyme that aids in the production of the fatty acid prostanoid. This compound is a primary mediator of inflammation.

One study found both turmeric and ginger to be effective for inhibiting cytokine production. Cytokines are small proteins long known to be a contributor of inflammation.

Turmeric Improves Skin Complexion

Turmeric benefits also extend to topical applications. You can mix the powder with a lotion and apply it topically. Various dermal conditions like eczema are also due to inflammation.

Curcumin is especially known to treat a nasty skin condition known as scabies. This is a condition in which microscopic mites called Sarcoptes Scabei burrow under your skin. The eggs and waste they leave behind may cause itchiness, rashes and bumps.

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In one study, 814 subjects with scabies used a topical turmeric treatment. About 97 percent experienced relief within three to 15 days.

Turmeric, in fact, is an old folk remedy in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for killing skin mites. Scabies is especially common in confined areas where skin-to-skin contact is commonplace. Scabies is common in India due to the dense population in urban areas.

Turmeric Benefits Beat Out OTC Drugs

We mentioned a while ago that turmeric beats out a drug like Prozac for depression. Turmeric also blows other medications out of the water. One study shows that it beats out the NSAID drug diclofenac sodium. This is a common medication for bringing down inflammation, especially in the joints.

A study in 2009 revealed that curcumin was equally as effective as ibuprofen for treating osteoarthritis-induced knee pain.

Yet another study showed that rheumatoid arthritis patients who took a natural turmeric supplement saw greater improvements than patients given Voltaren. This is the commercial brand of diclofenac sodium.

READ MORE: Thermo Potato and Turmeric Soup

Turmeric Is Cheaper and All-Natural

What’s the recurring theme here? Turmeric in most instances relieves inflammation and also yields better results than the far more expensive OTC medications.

We’ve got nothing against western medicine, but we do believe it has its limitations. You should at least explore a natural route before turning to doctor-prescribed medicine. Turmeric is also readily available at your supermarket and costs pennies compared to brand-name OTCs. It’s also a good excuse for making curry a weekly dish at the dinner table.

The immense turmeric benefits are why we included the spice in our Total Relief supplement. We recommend you check it out if you experience any undesirable bodily symptoms, ranging from constipation to joint discomfort.

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Ryan Tronier

Ryan Tronier is a writer and editor who has worked with NBC, ABC, and USA Today.
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