What is Tumeric and Why is it Good for You?
What Is Turmeric? Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an herb of the ginger family that is native to southern Asia and cultivated extensively in India, China, Indonesia, and other tropical countries. In addition to its use as a spice and pigment, turmeric has been interwoven into cultural and healing traditions and used for medicinal purposes for centuries.
The active compounds in Tumeric are called curcuminoids, and Turmeric’s benefits lie in the curcuminoid called curcumin. This chemical compound is well-known for its powerful medicinal properties. Curcumin is:
- a natural anti-inflammatory that fights inflammation at the molecular level. For example, arthritis patients have been shown to respond very well to curcumin supplements.
- a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals as a result of its chemical structure, while boosting the activity of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Since oxidation plays a major role in aging, curcumin has become very popular as an anti-aging supplement.
- linked to improved brain function and a lower risk of brain diseases, by increasing the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in your brain.
- linked to a lower risk of heart disease, as it helps improve the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of your blood vessels.
Most of the studies done on turmeric used extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. However, it would be very difficult to reach these levels just by using turmeric spice in your food.
If you want to experience the full effects of this wonderful herb, you need to take a supplement that contains significant amounts of curcumin. And, since curcumin is absorbed poorly into the bloodstream, you’ll want a supplement with something added to it, like black pepper extract, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%.