Health Benefits of Turmeric/Curcumin:
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that's frequently found in curry-spice blends. The root, related to ginger, is popular in Indian, Thai and Moroccan cuisines, and it's also long been used in traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicine.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which research suggests may offer several health benefits that could help alleviate symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Up until now, though, no studies have examined it specifically for these conditions.
While we do have some research on turmeric/curcumin, more studies need to be done to nail down exactly what it can do for us. The spice is believed to be an:
- Digestive aid
- Topical antiseptic
It's been used as a treatment for multiple ailments, including:
- Cancer, to prevent the spread of tumors
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Gallbladder function
- High cholesterol
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Kidney stones
- Protecting against Alzheimer's disease, when paired with vitamin D
- Protecting against liver damage
- Reducing breast cancer risk in menopausal women using hormone replacement therapy
- Reducing risk of type-2 diabetes
When taken as a supplement, the typical dose of curcumin is between 450 milligrams and 3 grams daily. Optimal doses for specific uses haven't been well-established by research.
Turmeric can also be brewed into a tea by steeping 1-1.5 grams of the dried root for 15 minutes, twice a day.
Turmeric/Curcumin in Your Diet:
Adding curcumin to your diet, through turmeric, is fairly simple. However, it may be difficult to get a therapeutic dosage through diet alone. In India, where turmeric is used in a lot of traditional foods, average dietary intake is estimated to be between 60 and 200 milligrams per day.
The About.com Food Channel can help you learn to cook with turmeric:
Side Effects of Turmeric/Curcumin:
Studies have shown that turmeric/curcumin may cause some side effects, including:
- Upset stomach
- Increased risk of bleeding
- Hair loss (in animal studies)
- Lowered blood pressure (in animal studies)
- Increased risk of kidney stones in people prone to them
Curcumin's safety hasn't been established for children.
Caution is urged when consuming turmeric during pregnancy, because of the possibility that it may stimulate the uterus and lead to menstrual-type bleeding.
Any time you're considering a new supplement, you should discuss it with your doctor and pharmacy to make sure you're not creating any dangerous interactions or other problems.
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