Medicinal uses of turmeric, Curcuma longa, can be traced back to ancient India and China, where this member of the ginger family was first used as a dye until its ability to reduce inflammation was discovered. Researchers continue to discover new health benefits from the use of this herb, including promising cancer treatments.
Turmeric is widely used for its an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and is most often used in dried or powder form. However it also has culinary applications as well.
By increasing the flow of bile from the liver, turmeric extract has been used to treat liver and gallbladder disorders, as well as aid in detoxification of the liver.
Medicinal uses of turmeric include combating psoriasis and speeding the healing process of wounds and abrasions. Its anti-bacterial agents help prevent and fight infections.
As an anti-inflammatory, it alleviates the symptoms of arthritis; it further benefits the elderly by slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and preventing cataracts.
Many women use turmeric to ease premenstrual discomfort and treat endometriosis.
This herb has been shown to reduce a number of genes linked to heart disease. It also fights atherosclerosis, has the ability to lower cholesterol and generally strengthens the cardiovascular system.
The main medicinal compound in turmeric is curcumin, a potent cancer fighter. Much of the current turmeric research is devoted to its anti-carcinogen properties.
Research has shown turmeric:
- Has the propensity to decrease symptoms of skin cancers and reduced the incidence of chemically induced cancer in lab animals
- Prevents the replication of a protein active in the spread of breast cancer
- Might prevent cancerous cells from metastasizing and tumors from growing new blood vessels
Empirical findings indicate incidences of leukemia are very low in countries where daily diets are high in turmeric.
Turmeric and turmeric extracts are well tolerated and produce no side effects in most people. However, use of turmeric is contradicted in:
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding because it can cause uterine contraction
- Patients with blood clotting disorders
In addition, when considering the medicinal uses of turmeric, if you have gallstones and/or obstruction of bile ducts you should consult your doctor before using turmeric extract.
On the other hand, turmeric and turmeric extracts have been used as a seasoning and a cooking ingredient for centuries and with no side effects.