Curcumin, the major active ingredient in turmeric, is a health powerhouse. Recently, this natural herb has received a major boost from social media claims. The question you could be asking is whether curcumin has any proven health benefits. Turmeric acid and its active ingredient indeed have many desirable health evens. Moreover, even science has backed these claims.
What is Curcumin?
We cannot talk about curcumin without describing its source. Turmeric is a flavor-filled spice with an extensive history of use as traditional medicine. It is cultivated from roots or rhizomes of a flowering plant native to India and other regions in Southeast Asia. Traditionally turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory medicine. It is also a powerful antioxidant. The primary active ingredient responsible for the effects of turmeric is curcumin.
Research has revealed that almost all health and nutritional benefits of turmeric result from curcumin. The ingredient is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It has a host of health benefits as well. Curcumin has many good properties. However, poor absorption into the bloodstream. Thus you need to take the herb or its extracts in large quantities and frequently to enjoy the health benefits. Experts believe that adding black pepper to curcumin curry can increase absorption into the bloodstream.
Proven Health benefits of Curcumin
We have talked about two of the most crucial properties of curcumin – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. These two properties, along with many others, are responsible for the health-promoting effects of turmeric and its active ingredient.
Let’s now explore the positive health outcomes you are likely to enjoy with frequent, long-term, and effective use of the herb.
Here is a list of the main health benefits of turmeric:
- Powerful anti-inflammatory herb
- Anticancer agent
- Protects from heart disease
- Memory and cognitive booster
- Protects from osteoarthritis
- Reliable antidepressant
- Antiaging herb
We will shortly discuss each of these benefits in detail to help you understand why you need to consider using curcumin capsules as supplements or curry as a cooking spice.
1. Treatment of inflammatory conditions
The hype associated with turmeric is attributed to claims of powerful anti-inflammatory effects. However, we can link the bulk of the anti-inflammatory benefits to curcumin. According to studies, curcumin in the right dosage can be more effective than modern synthetic anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
Despite the potency, curcumin remains much safer than those drugs. We all know the side effects of aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Most notably, they can cause stomach ulcers. Curcumin capsules can help you with long-term pain management without subjecting you to nasty side effects. For instance, these capsules are great alternatives in treating chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatitis.
2. Curcumin is Beneficial in Cancer Treatments
Cancer develops as a result of abnormal and unregulated growth of your cells. Cancer is a major killer in the world. It can result from many things, including environmental exposures to toxins. Toxins that accumulate can interfere with the genes that regulate cell growth, specialization, and death. Involved cells may become cancerous. Curcumin has powerful antioxidant effects meaning it scavenges toxins and neutralizes them.
Also, the growth of tumors is associated with severe inflammation. Therefore, the anti-inflammatory effects also help with cancer treatment to limit tissue damage due to inflammation. A study done on rats found that curcumin can stop the spread of cancer. According to the research, it can even stop cancer from developing in the first place. Finally, it can cause the death of cancerous cells.
3. Curcumin Can protect you from Heart Disease
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease is the number killer of both men and women. Past research into the benefits of curcumin in the cardiovascular system has revealed protective effects on both the heart and blood vessels. In addition, regular use of curcumin capsules can improve endothelial function.
The endothelium is the thin sheet of cells that line the inner wall of the heart and blood vessels. The epithelial function reduces with age. This could explain the association of cardiovascular disease with advancing age. A study found that regular aerobic exercise and taking curcumin supplements can protect you from hypertension, heart attack, and stroke. In fact, the study found that curcumin could be as effective as atorvastatin in treating heart disease.
4. Curcumin is a Potential Memory Booster
Research done among some populations in Asia in 2006 found out that people who ate more curry had better scores in cognitive functions tests than those who didn’t eat the spice. Cognitive functions involve memory, attention, learning, and arithmetic skills.
Another study conducted in 2018 revealed that school-going children whose diet included curry performed better in class than their counterparts who didn’t use the spice. They were also quick learners with the ability to solve complex mathematical problems.
5. Curcumin Can help with Osteoarthritis
Currently, osteoarthritis ranks as the most common cause of disability in the United States. This is because joints in your body have smooth material in between them to support smooth gliding. This material, which also protects the joint against friction, is called cartilage.
Osteoarthritis is associated with chronic, debilitating pain. A review study was done in 2016 linked taking the right dose of curcumin capsules for four weeks to pain relief in people suffering from osteoarthritis of the elbow, wrist, and knee joints.
6. Curcumin Can help you fight Depression
Depression can interfere with many aspects of life. For example, it can lead to poor performance in daily activities and emotional pain. However, a controlled study found out that curcumin has effects equal to those of Prozac in the treatment of depression.
The same study also found that people who received both curcumin and Prozac fared much better than those who received either Prozac or curcumin alone. However, it is not clear how the herb achieves its effects in treating depression.
7. Curcumin Could help Delay Aging
As it stands now, aging is an inevitable life process. However, it can be delayed with the right approach. Some proponents of curcumin claim the spice can help delay the aging process.
Perhaps any such benefits arise from the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and memory-boosting effects of the herb. It is perfectly understandable because the accumulation of toxins and chronic age-related inflammatory diseases are responsible for aging.
Curcumin and its parent compound, turmeric, are packed with many health benefits. Several studies have backed up these claims. It means you can achieve the seven proven health benefits and more if you decide to begin taking curcumin capsules today.
Even if you feel healthy, you can make it a habit of including curry as one of the spices in your daily diet. You will be protected from heart disease, inflammation, arthritis, and cancer. Your academic performance will also get a boost.