Turmeric or Indian saffron is a plant of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) which is native to South Asia. A spice that bears the same name as this plant has distinctive golden yellow color and is obtained by grinding turmeric tuber which is first cooked and then dried and it is also found in curry, a famous spice mix. This medicinal spice has been used for more than 3000 years in the Indian traditional medicine (Ayurveda) but in Chinese folk medicine too due to its ability to reduce blood pressure, purify blood and treat various inflammatory processes, pain and depression. Even Marco Polo’s book “Million” discovers how fascinated the East was with this powerful spice. Turmeric is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and potassium, zinc and iron. Many scientific studies have shown that curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, has powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
Accumulation of free radicals in the body damages cells and causes cardiovascular and malignant diseases. They damage all cell structures, the worst of them being the damage to the genetic material. Antioxidants found in turmeric like vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, protect cells from the oxidative stress and damage of free radicals thus preventing numerous diseases and accelerated aging.
Recent studies have also shown anti-cancer activity of curcumin because it has the ability to block
enzymes responsible for several types of cancer like colon cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, mouth cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, skin and lung cancer.
Other than antibacterial, antiviral and antimycotic properties, turmeric has also anti-inflammatory properties so it protects the mucous membrane of the mouth, throat, lungs and intestines. It is believed to be helpful in treating some autoimmune diseases such as chron’s disease, irritable colon, colitis and joint inflammation. Furthermore, it can be used as a topical antibiotic to prevent bacterial infection of the wounds. Turmeric is also used to regulate menstruation, reduce cramps and soothe pain.
Liver detoxification, as well as whole body detox, helps restore balance in the body by eliminating harmful substances and toxins that we put into our body each day through food, drink, polluted environment, smoking, medications etc. Curcumin strengthens and protects the liver which plays a key role in detoxification and is responsible for the breakdown of fat in addition to many other important functions related to digestion. Turmeric prevents fat accumulation and thus stimulates liver regeneration and prevents cholesterol oxidation which reduces risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
Irregular bowel movement and constipation lead to accumulation of toxins, weakening of the immune system and causing many serious diseases. Some properties of turmeric help stimulate bile secretion and regulate bowel movement which improves a general condition of the whole body and strengthens the immune system.
Abdominal pain and bloated stomach are common problems that affect many people every day, while these and many other symptoms of irregular bowel movement syndrome can be removed by making only several simple changes on our menu, for example, you need to ensure your diet includes many fiber-rich foods (fruits and vegetables) and turmeric. On top of all, turmeric reduces bad cholesterol levels.
You can purchase turmeric powder spice or turmeric supplement pills. Recommended dosage of turmeric spice is 2 teaspoons and it is usually added to meals such as risottos, sauces, creams and white meat dishes. It is most often added at the end of a dish to preserve flavor and nutrients. However, pregnant women and persons with gallstones or hemophilia should not be using turmeric.
All in all, turmeric is a delicious spice but above everything, potent medicinal spice which should be incorporated into our daily menu especially because it can easily fit into almost any recipe, and if you are not in a mood to experiment or complement this traditional Indian spice with our traditional recipes, you can always go for turmeric supplement pills or a warm beverage made with turmeric powder.
Translation: G. Dujmović