Turmeric is a herb and spice used in curries. It has a characteristic deep yellow color and a mildly spicy flavor. It comes from the rhizome of the turmeric plant which is a member of the same species as ginger. You may have heard of it because it has been mentioned by Dr. Oz and in many popular news channels.
Turmeric, like most other culinary herbs, has valuable medicinal properties. Turmeric is used liberally in countries such as India where is valued for strengthening the immune system, relieving inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, improving digestions, killing parasites, dissolving gallstones and alleviating PMS.
Turmeric is a strong antioxidant that is actually more powerful than vitamins C and E. Studies have shown that turmeric is effective in halting cancer in all 3 stages, reducing the number of tumors and protecting the throat, stomach and colon against cancer. In animal studies, turmeric was toxic to cancer cells within thirty minutes.
Another powerful action of turmeric is on the liver. Turmeric stimulates the flow of bile, helping to metabolize fats. It is used to prevent and dissolve gallstones while cleaning out the bacteria associated with inflammation of the gallbladder. Turmeric also inhibits viruses such as hepatitis and HIV.
Turmeric is used throughout the herbal world because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It is sold singly for arthritis pain, for cardiovascular health and for lowering blood sugar. It is also sold in combination with other herbs, particularly for relieving inflammation common in conditions such as arthritis.
Turmeric is now being touted as the anti-inflammatory herb to take to prevent degenerative conditions in the brain and nervous system. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties are enhanced when it is combined with other anti-inflammatory herbs such as rosemary, ginger, green teas and boswellia.
One particular turmeric based combination called Zyflamend, which is a proprietary formula from New Chapter, is being used in clinical cancer trials on both prostate cancer and brain cancer because the anti-inflammatory properties that make this combination useful against arthritis pain, also make it useful in preventing the inflammation that can lead to cancer. Note that cancer doesn’t develop overnight; it is a progressive problem that starts with inflammation.
As with any herb, quality is a major issue. If you want to get the benefit of the herbs you take, make sure they come from a quality supplier who does not use herbs that have been fumigated or irradiated upon entry into the United States.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.