Turmeric or Curcuma longa is a well-known spice used in Asian cooking. It comes from a plant that is closely related to ginger. It is recognized for its vivid yellow colour and slightly bitter taste. Apart from its use in food, turmeric is also a medicinal plant widely used in Ayurveda.
What makes turmeric a potent medicinal plant?
Turmeric contains Curcumin which is a chemical known to have many medicinal properties. Various clinical trials conducted which involved turmeric in medicinal form appear to have conclusive evidence of its benefits. For example, in research conducted by the University of Michigan, 400 mg of turmeric taken three times daily proved to be an effective remedy to inflammation. Other possible uses of turmeric include:
- Reduce high cholesterol. A study conducted showed the positive effects of turmeric in lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. However, there is no conclusive evidence that turmeric in itself can cure high blood pressure.
- Hay fever and colds. Curcumin may help reduce the noticeable symptoms of colds and hay fever such as sneezing and nasal congestion. The anti-inflammatory properties of Curcumin are useful for such conditions.
- Inflammatory bowel disease. Curcumin is a naturally occurring anti-oxidant in turmeric which can also help reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome. It may be taken orally along with traditional medication.
There are still many ongoing clinical studies involving turmeric which aim to find conclusive evidence that it can help cure certain degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. In the meantime, it is not safe to assume beyond what is scientifically proven. Nevertheless, taking a turmeric drink in recommended doses or as a supplement, and with the permission of a physician, will do you no harm.
Side effects and precautions when taking turmeric
Since turmeric is a common spice used in cooking, ingesting it as a drink or as an ingredient in meals is safe. There are some that also use turmeric as a topical medication or as an enema. If you plan on doing the same, consult with a doctor first especially if you have allergies.
Extremely high doses may result in side effects such as diarrhoea, upset stomach, and nausea. Therefore, taking high doses of turmeric is not recommended until further clinical evidence proves otherwise.
Turmeric is also safe when taken as part of food and drink even for pregnant and lactating mothers. Precaution should be taken when turmeric is already in medicinal form. Individuals with conditions such as diabetes, iron-deficiency, and gallstones need to be cautious when taking turmeric supplements.
Studies show that turmeric prevents the body from adequately absorbing iron and could also increase blood sugar for people with diabetes. Another possible side effect of turmeric is that it can slow down blood clotting.
In conclusion, turmeric is a natural medicinal plant proven to have high anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Nevertheless, there are still ongoing clinical trials to determine that it is also an effective treatment for other diseases. Turmeric is safe when ingested in food and drinks, but extra precaution is necessary when it is in supplement form. If you are interested in using turmeric supplements, consult your doctor first for your safety.