Some of us are only finding out now what the Asian Indians, the American Indians and the Chinese knew a long time ago. These say that one of the most amazing medicinal herbs is in fact no rare plant or artificially created compound, but is actually a common herb - turmeric. Or, more precisely, its active ingredient - curcumin.
The percentage of curcumin is very low in the turmeric plant, and so, it needs to be either digested for a very long time, or taken as a pill, which holds a high percentage of curcumin, to treat a variety of problems.
The turmeric is a shrub with large and wide leaves that envelope it and hide the flowers in its center. It mainly grows in southeast Asia, where it has been used as a cooking and medicinal herb for thousands of years. It is the herb that gives the traditional Indian dish, the Curry, its typical yellow color and strong taste.
Curcumin has many medicinal properties behind its familiar exterior - It strengthens the immune system, delays (and may even prevent) Alzheimer's Disease, prevents neuron death, strengthens cells, reduces oxidation and an inflammation, helps keep sugar levels, boosts the digestive system, lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease, and most importantly - it can fight against cancer, delaying its spread and stabilizing its condition.
Only recently, after a sequence of successful experiments, has modern science discovered the full potential of curcumin.
It started in 2005, with a research into Alzheimer's disease, where it was found that taking curcumin prevented the outbreak of multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis in mice. This interested the scientific community, and other research was conducted, with astonishing results: For many patients, curcumin delayed the onset of cancer cells and even stabilized the condition of patients with aggressive cancer cells.
In the last 7 years, over 20 different experiments were conducted, researching the effectiveness of Curcumin - and the scientific world was flabbergasted by the results:
source: saptarshikar / flickr
1. Delays and stabilizes the spread of cancer
Curcumin slows the spread of cancer cells by denying their replication process and strengthening the protection of cell membranes.
2. Strong antioxidant effects
Because of the shape of its molecule, curcumin is very effective in preventing the oxidation processes and the activity of free radicals in the body (Antioxidant), and thus slows the damage to our body cells and as a consequence - slows the aging of skin cells.
3. Increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy
When used in combination with chemotherapy, curcumin is found to enhance the process and increase effectiveness.
4. Delays and reduces the chance of deterioration adult brains
Curcumin improves brain activity of older people, and may slow cognitive decline by up to 49%. Even the occasional consumption of curry, the popular Indian dish that contains curcumin, reduces the risk of mental decline by up to 38% (American Journal of Epidemiology).
5. Anti-inflammatory and fights arthritis
Curcumin, when given as an essence by injection, fights inflammatory diseases due to its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help the body in the fight against arthritis in particular. Studies have shown that cartilage destruction in mice that were given the extract was reduced by 66%, and bone destruction in patients who received the extract was reduced by 57%.
6. Helps maintain a healthy heart and helps an unhealthy heart return to action
Researchers in Canada found that curcumin also reduces the risk of heart failure, as it helps the heart regain its health and reduces the spread of scar tissue.
7. It's anti-diabetic and reduces the risk of disease
In 2008, it was discovered that curcumin also encourages the activity of liver enzymes that convert glucose carbohydrates, and creates anti-inflammatory activity that is required by people with high fat content. The researchers suggest that consumption of small doses of curcumin daily is a great natural booster to traditional treatment, and it significantly lowers the risk of diabetes in people who are overweight.
source: saptarshikar / flickr
8. Fights cell death and the death of brain cells killed by Alzheimer's disease
Curcumin may protect against Alzheimer's disease, and inhibits and prevents cell death caused by the disease. In India, where curry with curcumin is eaten regularly, Alzheimer's disease is much rarer than in other countries.
9. Increases and strengthens the immune system
In 2009, researchers at the University of Michigan found that curcumin strengthens our cell membranes and thus increases the resistance against foreign infections entering the body. Perhaps this is one reason why curcumin fights cancer so well.
10. Reduces the risk of stroke, strengthens the body's blood vessels and lowers blood pressure
Researchers realized that curcumin slows the body's blood clotting activity, which causes a decreased risk of blood clots and strokes. Also, since curcumin boosts blood cells, contributes to the strength of blood vessels, lowers blood cholesterol concentration and fights infections, it actually lowers blood pressure.
11. Helps in digestion and absorption of nutrients
Curcumin fights harmful bacteria and thus facilitates digestion and reduces the risk of bacterial infection. Curcumin also reduces the accumulation of gas in the intestines, thereby preventing abdominal pain and swelling.
How to take it:
The best way to consume curcumin is by taking curcumin capsules containing a high concentration of the active ingredient in turmeric, the curcumin. You can find them in most health shops. When turmeric is eaten, most of the curcumin gets destroyed by stomach acid. Taking concentrated pills negates that effect and allows the body to absorb a significant amount of curcumin by letting the compound go through the digestive tract and reach the bloodstream and from there to all parts of the body, where the curcumin does its job of improving our health.