Is turmeric good for your health?
Turmeric or Curcuma longa - a bright golden and fragrant spice - is one of the most studied herbal remedies. It is known for its many medicinal qualities and has been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries.
Curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinct yellow colour, was first isolated almost two centuries ago, and its chemical structure was determined in 1910. But it wasn't until the last half-century when extensive research has finally uncovered a surprisingly wide range of healing properties of curcumin, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, and proven beneficial effects against several types of cancer.
It can be highly effective for a wide variety of health struggles, including various skin conditions, digestive issues, pain management and wound healing. Pretty much everything it seems!
It's now hard to find a coffee shop that wouldn't sell you a turmeric latte or a health shop that wouldn't have at least one or two curcumin supplements on offer. But before you give it a try, here are just a few additional facts backed by science and research:
1. Different studies have shown that curcumin, like many other dietary polyphenols, is able to counteract the effects of toxic damage in different tissues of the human body. It has been used for centuries as a herbal remedy due to its safety and intrinsic non-toxicity to humans, even at high doses.
2. Curcumin acts indirectly on the central nervous system by influencing the “gut-brain axis”, a complex bidirectional system in which the microbiome and its composition determines and helps preserve brain health. Curcumin and its metabolites are also beneficial for restoring dysbiosis of the gut microbiome.
3. However, the practical application of curcumin in medicine is restricted at this point because of its poor water solubility, chemical instability, and rapid metabolism. Scientists are still working on strategies to improve that and one of the solutions is based on combining curcumin with other molecules. For example, mixing curcumin with piperine, an alkaloid of black pepper and long pepper significantly enhances its bioavailability.
4. Healthy microbiome seems to be the key in digestion and absorption of curcumin. After we ingest curcumin, it accumulates in the gut where, following microbial digestion, it can be successfully transformed into biologically active metabolites.
5. But not to worry, even if the gut health is a little compromised turmeric comes to the rescue yet again.
It’s been proven that curcumin can influence gut microbiota composition, allowing the growth of beneficial strains that we need to maintain balanced physiological functions in our body. This is especially the case in preventing and treating neurodegenerative diseases in which often a gut dysbiosis precedes the onset of first symptoms.