I've been hearing a lot about turmeric and curcumin the past few months. However, as a Registered Dietitian, I hold to a professional code of ethics standard. This requires that I be cautious when recommending supplements used for medicinal purposes. As a result, I ensured my own knowledge was sound before sharing with my readers. This article will discuss, “What is Turmeric Good For?” and also, “Whether it is safe for everyone.”
Last night a subscriber asked about the antioxidant effects of turmeric. Yes, indeed, turmeric has antioxidant properties. This is related to the fact that it is a plant.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a type of root plant related to ginger. It is found in curry seasoning and is commonly used as a spice in Indian cuisine. In Asian dishes, it imparts a mustard-like, earthy aroma and pungent, slightly bitter flavor to foods.
Strictly speaking, the color comes from curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. This root is used to dye certain fabrics in India as well as for food coloring. Examples of some foods colored using the dye from curcumin are cheese, salad dressing, butter, pickles, and mustard.
Curcumin is also responsible for the therapeutic benefits of turmeric.
Why is Turmeric Good for You?
According to WebMD, turmeric is good for hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, and itching (pruritus).
- Hay Fever – Curcumin appears to reduce the symptoms of hay fever, including sneezing, runny nose, and congestion.
- Depression – Curcumin has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression in persons already taking anti-depressants.
- High Cholesterol – Triglycerides, a type of blood fat linked to heart disease seem to be positively affected.
- Osteoarthritis – Some research shows that taking turmeric extracts may reduce pain in those with knee osteoarthritis.
- Itching (Pruritus) – When taken as directed, turmeric is effective in easing itching in persons with kidney disease. Also, black pepper increases the absorption of curcumin powder. Thus, combining curcumin with black pepper helps chronic itching in persons exposed to mustard gas.
Is Turmeric Safe?
It should be noted that not every plant is safe for human consumption. However, turmeric is likely safe when taken as part of the regular food, as a food seasoning, for example.
The root is used in medicine for numerous treatments. As a result, people will sometimes think, “If a little is good, a lot is better.” This is most definitely NOT the case.
For example, WebMD states that turmeric is safe during pregnancy when ingested as part of regular food. However, it is likely NOT SAFE to ingest in medicinal amounts during pregnancy.
It is vitally important that dosage instructions, drug-nutrient interactions be considered when deciding whether to take or how much to take.
Turmeric slows blood clotting (increased blood thinning). As a result, it interacts with other blood clotting medications including aspirin, ibuprofen, Plavix, warfarin, and heparin. So, it is important to check with your health care provider if you are taking any prescription medications to make sure that it is safe to use.
For information on how to grow Turmeric for yourself, click here.
For another well-written article on turmeric, “10 Health Benefits and Uses of Turmeric,” click here.
For more on the importance of good nutrition, see these articles: