Turmeric belongs to the family of Zingiberaceae, related to ginger. This rhizome is used as a spice and dye ground in Asian cuisine. It has a neutral, little spicy taste. In addition to its flavour, turmeric has great health benefits.
Turmeric is one of the main components of curry, and through this food, it has become of so common use. This spice is mainly composed of an active ingredient called curcumin, which besides being the main culprit for the various benefits of this substance, gives turmeric its characteristic yellow color.
One of the health benefits of turmeric is being a potent tonic stomach that stimulates digestive secretions and aids digestion. It is ideal for those suffering from loss of appetite or dyspepsia, as well as in cases of chronic gastritis or hypochlorhydria (decreased gastric acid secretion). It contains an active substance called zingiberene with has antiulcer properties, and the 1-phenyl-hydroxy-N- pentane, which stimulates secretion of digestive enzymes and helps maintain an optimum PH. Turmeric helps reduce symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome as inflammation, swelling and gases. It contains carminative properties, that is; it helps reduce flatulence and intestinal cramps.
Turmeric is also a potent hepatoprotective not only due to its components, but also because of its high potential to increase glutathione, a great antioxidant of the body. Among the major compounds with hepatoprotective properties are curcumin, borneol, turmenon, eugenol and caffeic acid. Turmeric is also cholagogues and choleretic, as it promotes drainage and emptying of the gallbladder.
The rhizome of turmeric has, at least, ten components with anti-tumor properties, including curcumin and curcuminoids, beta-carotene, curcumenol, turmenona, among others. Their anticancer benefits are not forwarded to a preventive effect; it has also been shown to improve conventional cancer treatment.
Due to its content of curcuminoids, turmeric also has antioxidant properties, especially inhibiting the production of type 2 prostaglandins. It is very suitable for natural arthritis treatment, to improve the symptoms of stiffness, joint swelling and mobility without side effects.
Turmeric has been used for years as an antidepressant, and its compounds are a stimulant of the nervous system, the immune system and mood. Turmeric attenuates the effects of stress on the body and can inhibit the action of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO), increasing the levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter associated with well-being).
Turmeric has cardioprotective properties as it combats oxidative stress by increasing antioxidant enzymes, vitamin C levels in the heart, and improving levels of nitric oxide. It contributes in the context of a proper diet to lower blood cholesterol.
Turmeric is also used in the natural treatment of respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, as it helps reduce inflammation and thanks to its antioxidants, improves the course of the disease. It can also be used in the treatment of COPD.
Finally, turmeric is ideal for using in the treatment of immunosuppressive diseases. Turmeric can modulate the immune response, acting through cytokines and T lymphocytes. This fact is due to the presence of a compound called ukonan A acting in synergy with other nutrients own from turmeric as zinc, copper and limonene.