In recent years, turmeric has been promoted up the ranks in the world of spices – going from just a humble ingredient in curry powder, to taking its place on the menu of every self- respecting hipster café. Turmeric latte anyone?
This ancient Ayurvedic herbs popularity is due to its possible effect on factors associated with inflammation. Studies have found that turmeric may improve inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
Inflammation is a common problem, the pain, redness, heat and swelling that accompanies injuries such as sprains, strains, cuts, grazes, insect bites and stings. The same process that produces these symptoms also drives many diseases. Most pain is a result of some sort of inflammation, so if it hurts it is likely that inflammation is involved.
Types of pain include (but not limited to) arthritis, joint, back and muscle problems, headaches and digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel disease.
Inflammation can also be present in the body without those familiar symptoms. It is sometimes called “the silent killer”. The underlying process behind some forms of cardiovascular disease is one example of invisible inflammation. Many cardiovascular disease patients do not show the recognised risk factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. “Silent” inflammation can also be a contributing factor to conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Why controlling inflammation is important
Inflammation is a normal acute response that your immune system generates to address all sorts of challenges, such as an injury, infection and toxicity.
Inflammation can often continue for far too long. This may be because your body is tired, maybe you have gut issues and your body is unable to assimilate the nutrients from your food and you are therefore nutrient deplete, which means that you will be unable to properly heal.
Not only is this causing production of chemicals that is leading to pain, but the tissue may become damaged and disease set in.
Studies have found that turmeric may help to manage oxidative and minor inflammatory conditions. Turmeric has traditionally been used to relieve symptoms of mild osteoarthritis.
But the bountiful benefits of turmeric don’t stop at reducing inflammation. Its antioxidant properties may also support healthy liver function and improve elimination pathways in the body. It may act on the lining of the digestive tract, promoting good digestion and a healthy microbiome.
In healthy active people, turmeric may help reduce inflammation which may relieve sore muscles after exercise.
The Spice of Life
With its signature brown skin and bright orange flesh, turmeric is derived from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, belonging to the group of oldest cultivated spice plants that grow in Asia and Central America.
Curcumin is the active chemical in turmeric that gives it its distinctly golden hue and has medicinal properties. The spice is used in curries and teas and as a dye to colour foods such as mustard.
Turmeric has long been recognised and revered by traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western herbal medicine for its health promoting and healing benefits.
Turmeric has been used to alleviate mild digestive discomfort as well as mild muscle and joint pain. Many traditional herbal uses may relate to turmeric’s antioxidant effects.
Including a natural spice such as turmeric into your daily diet can provide long term support of your general health and wellbeing.
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