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India has some of the strongest rates of prostate, breast, bone and lung health in the world. Some researchers attribute these numbers to the regular consumption of a common household spice, which has also been shown to offer support for cognitive function and inflammation. The best part? Chances are, this spice may already be in your cabinet.
These are only some of the roles this spice plays in promoting optimal health. For thousands of years in Ayurveda, this common spice was used for healthy joints, liver support, healthy skin, mental clarity, intestinal health, bile flow, and fat metabolism.
Turmeric has always been one of my favorite herbs that I literally recommend almost everyone keep in their personal apothecary, as it has the unique property of being suitable for all body types and seasons.
Keep reading for a taste of other incredible benefits offered by turmeric, plus one super-simple tip for boosting its absorption.
Turmeric Supports Healthy Cell Replication
Recently, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a very large study revealed that certain health concerns are not detected during a routine colonoscopy. What was once an insurance plan for intestinal screening, now can only afford a 60-70% risk reduction. (1) This means that, while we should still use colonoscopies as a screening tool, we have to take action to support intestinal health in other ways as well.
In one study, curcumin, the extract of turmeric, out-performed Western drugs in supporting healthy cellular replication and repair, along with supporting natural and timely cell death, called apoptosis. (2, 3)
One research team reported that Curcumin appears to possess all of the desirable features of a desk-designed, multi-purpose supplement.
Perhaps one of our biggest concerns as we age is to somehow protect ourselves from the ravages of cognitive decline. Turmeric has at least 10 neuro-protective actions that support healthy cognitive function. (5)
Because the brain is predominately fatty tissue, fat-soluble toxins may accumulate in the brain and cause damage. As a fat-soluble substance, turmeric may have an affinity for chelating (removing) fat-soluble toxins out of the deep tissues.
With these properties in mind, I have included turmeric as one of the main herbs in my two-week Colorado Cleanse program, which is entirely centered on coaxing stored toxins out of the fat cells and removing them via the intestinal tract. Sadly, the brain is one of the places that toxins store when they are deposited in the body’s fatty tissue.
In addition, turmeric crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it may attach to neurotoxins, such as beta amyloid plaque, and support healthy antioxidant activity (6).
New studies on turmeric have been exploring its effect on healthy and stable mood. In one study, curcumin was shown to boost the brain chemical norepinephrine, which supports healthy mood, attentiveness, sleep, dreaming and higher learning. (7)
Perhaps surprisingly, curcumin also boosted the levels of dopamine – the “motivation” hormone that supports pleasure, emotion, satisfaction and locomotion – and serotonin, which plays a key role in mood, memory, learning, appetite, sexual behavior, sleep, and many other functions. (7)
In a 2013 study, a group given Turmeric showed a 64% improvement in mood, the highest improvement found by this study.
Turmeric is also believed to act as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which means it supports the growth and development of neurons and resists the degeneration of brain cells when under stress. (7)
A Healthy Lymph Response
Lymph congestion may start in the gut because of an irritated and compromised intestinal wall. The most common cause of this is most likely stress. Stress receptors line the gut and, when we are under a lot of stress, the intestinal mucous membranes produce excessive reactive mucus. This reactive mucus may compromise absorption and detoxification pathways in the gut, leading to congestion in the body’s lymphatic system, which also lines the gut.
Turmeric supports the mucosa of the gut, thins the mucus, and supports the flow of bile. In addition to breaking down nutritional fats that we need, bile is also our body’s primary immune response in the gut to emulsify toxic chemicals and other fat-soluble toxins that you may have ingested. These include heavy metals, parasites, pesticides, candida, fungi and more.
Increase Absorption of Turmeric by 2000%
One of the problems with turmeric is that it is fat soluble, which makes it more difficult to absorb. That is why many of the studies have been done on curcumin, which is the extract of turmeric, and easier to absorb. So for the past ten years, much research has gone into finding ways to boost the absorption of turmeric, with some good success.
While modern herbal extracts have potent therapeutic value, it is difficult to match the blueprint of the original plant. Sadly, extracts kill the beneficial microbes that actually live on whole plants. Whole herbs carry specific microbes that support the actions of that plant, making their ingestion along with the whole plant supportive in receiving that plants’ benefits. In addition, the body may build a tolerance to an extract. Whole herbs, while not as potent as extracts, have a sustainable effect. In Ayurveda, whole herbs are combined with other whole herbs and spices to boost function, which can be as potent as today’s modern extracts.
For example, in 1998, researchers at St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore, India found that turmeric taken with black pepper – both common ingredients in curry – increased the absorption of turmeric by an astonishing 2000%, with no adverse effects! (8)
What is interesting is that in India, curry powder is loaded with turmeric, peppers and other spices. Turmeric is added to many dishes in India, and during the cooking process, the turmeric is naturally extracted and concentrated. Boiling and cooking helps naturally break down the turmeric in such a way that the absorption of medicinal grade constituents, like curcumin, are greatly enhanced.
The average person in India eats about 2 to 2.5 grams of turmeric a day – that’s about 4 to 6 capsules of turmeric a day – almost every day of their lives. Interestingly, India has among the highest rates of prostate, breast, colon and lung health. Some researchers believe this may be due to the quantity of turmeric consumed on a regular basis.