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    Turmeric: The Traditional Chinese Medicine

    Posted by: Quieta Bail Naturopath (BHSc)

    Turmeric: The Traditional Chinese Medicine

    Turmeric is an Indian rhizome spice containing an active ingredient that gives it it’s distinguishing golden colour, Curcumin (around 3% of turmeric). Traditionally it was named Indian saffron, due to its prized medicinal qualities and the price it could command. We associate it with cultural celebrations, textile dyes, curries and healing. It is a giant amongst the medicinal herbs and spices. Within the cultural medical practices of Indian and Chinese medicine, turmeric was used for conditions of inflammation, pain, colic, flatulence, jaundice, toothache and menstruation pain.

    Research suggests it may also have anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-cancer and neuroprotective protective properties too. It has shown benefits in inhibiting Helicobacter Pylori activity involved in peptic ulcers (a bacteria that can withstand the high acidity of the stomach), inflammatory bowel disease through suppression of interlukin-1, pain and mobility improvements in osteoarthritis, and neural support in Alzheimer’s. 

    Turmeric is a topic of considerable interest to the medical community.  Particularly exciting is the fact that the American National Cancer Institute has selected this herb from thousands of others for further trials, due to its possible potential in cancer prevention, in all three areas of interest; a) as a carcinogen blocker, b) prevention of development of triggered cells and c) the ability to cease tumour growth and spreading. Cancer cells unfortunately have a unique ability to protect themselves from the regular cellular lifecycle, so they don’t die and can continue to develop. Curcumin appears to have the ability to reactivate cancer cells self-destruction mechanisms, helping them to die off.  It also is indicated in activating caspases enzymes which have the ability to enter cancer cells and destroy vital proteins. This combination is enormously valuable in the fight against some of the most resilient cells we have encountered.

    One small study on smoker’s urine, where participants were provided with less than one teaspoon of regular turmeric powder per day, saw a decrease in DNA mutation rates by up to 38%. This preliminary work will NEVER be a better choice than giving up smoking, however this makes a compelling group to study considering their daily carcinogen exposure levels. It has also been indicated in lung disease, brain disease and cancer of the colon, pancreas and multiple myeloma.

    Turmeric is extremely potent that within an hour of eating it, the curcuminoids (active constituents of the plant) will appear in your blood. So for health benefits the recommendation is simply ¼ teaspoon per day, from your pantry.  Pop in any dish, or simply add it to your morning green smoothie. However for some, turmeric isn’t the tastiest of herbs, so a supplemental form is a fantastic choice to ensure potency and quantity of this incredible medicinal herb.

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