Ayurveda, the oldest comprehensive medical system in the world, is gaining prominence again. Many people in the Western world also liked it.
One of the proven Ayurvedic spices is turmeric (curcuma longa), sometimes nicknamed Indian gold. In high doses or well-processed into capsules, it can be used for many health problems. Its effects on health are extraordinary.
Ayurveda, a comprehensive medical system originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It includes all areas of medicine. A large part of it is the science of rejuvenation. After all, from Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda could be loosely translated as “life science.”
In Ayurvedic administration, internal medicine relies significantly on herbs. These are traditionally used in Ayurveda in the form of decoctions, powders, pastes, medicated oils or, for example, medicinal wines. In recent years, however, the use of herbs processed into practical capsules has prevailed in the Western world and among modern-minded Indians.
From the original Ayurvedic principles, a slightly younger traditional Chinese medicine was born, and from Ayurvedic knowledge of herbs, homeopathy and other holistic healing systems are based. On the other hand, its contribution is also appreciated by Western medicine.
Many doctors today are educated in the art of Ayurveda, special diagnostics according to pulse, tongue, nails, etc., and recommend to their patients Ayurvedic herbal medicines – phytopharmaceuticals, which can become a support in the treatment of mild and more serious health problems. Ayurveda as a system is also recognised by the World Health Organization, known as WHO.
Ayurveda and everyday life
Ayurveda has many degrees of application, but its foundations are firmly rooted in everyday life. From the perspective of this ancient teaching, we should work with our health daily using the right diet that is appropriate for our type, but also herbs and spices. Cooking in Ayurveda is specific in that it does not use spices or herbs as food flavourings, but as tools to strengthen one’s health. Cooking is usually done by adding a little ghee – renneted butter – to a preheated pot and adding the appropriate spice to it and roasting it for a while to “release” a healthy substance. Only then are other raw materials added. One of the mainstays of Ayurvedic cuisine is the spice we know as turmeric long. In India it is called turmeric or haldi. However, the importance of turmeric is not limited to cooking, as it turned out.
Turmeric and a substance called curcumin
The spice known as turmeric comes from a plant aptly named Curcuma longa). In addition to being used alone, it is one of the basic ingredients in curry spice.
Lovers of Indian and Thai cuisine encounter turmeric very often, but in fact it has much more use outside of culinary delights. In Thailand, for example, it has traditionally been used as an ingredient in the manufacture of cosmetics; in China as a dye; Malaysians use it as an antiseptic; in India as an anti-inflammatory agent; Americans even like the dye and preservative of many foods.
The most important substance is undoubtedly curcumin – ie natural polyphenol, which, however, reaches a relatively low proportion (about 3%). Therefore, people longing for the benefits of this substance usually prefer food supplements – these are usually enriched with black pepper extracts that increase the absorption of curcumin in the body.
Turmeric and its traditionally valued health effects
The traditionally appreciated effects of turmeric are really interesting. Turmeric affects, for example, the cardiovascular system, liver, immune system, nervous and respiratory systems, skin condition on joints and bones. It also acts as an antioxidant. Its use is diverse, it can also be used externally. For example, by mixing with honey, it is made into a paste, which is used in traditional Ayurveda to improve movement.
Antioxidant effect – curcumin can neutralize free radicals, thus preventing oxidative damage. It even stimulates the function of specific enzymes in the body, which also play an important role in protection against oxidation. In practice, this means that it serves to prevent the development of diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, atherosclerosis, heart attack and others.
Suppression of inflammation – damage caused by oxidation is closely related to inflammation, which is actually the defense mechanism of the human body. The problem occurs when inflammation becomes a chronic condition and begins to harm your body. In this case, it can cause some serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. Research has shown the ability of curcumin to suppress inflammation, confirming a number of unofficial reports.
Helping Arthritis Patients – A chronic inflammatory joint disease, technically called arthritis, affects more than 250 million people worldwide. A study was published in 2014 in which researchers confirmed that the use of curcumin with black pepper extract reduced pain and improved physiological functions in patients with arthritis. The authors identified curcuminoids as an effective and safe alternative treatment for this disease.
Improving brain function – curcumin increases the level of brain neurotrophic factor – a protein that is responsible for, for example, the growth of brain cells. A number of control center disorders are associated with low levels of this protein, so consumption of curcumin may delay or even prevent damage. Researchers in Washington, DC, said, among other things, that curcumin can be an effective and lasting natural antidepressant.
Reducing the risk of heart disease – the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of curcumin are not the only reason why its use is associated with the prevention of heart disease. It also improves the lining of your blood vessels (so-called endothelium), which is important for the proper regulation of blood pressure, ensuring blood clotting, etc.
Anticancer effect – Some researchers have come up with results from studies that suggest that curcumin administration increases apoptosis, or cell death. Cancer is a disease characterized by excessive cell proliferation, so these effects are being studied in more detail. High efficiency was achieved by increased dosage and combination with piperine – a substance found in black pepper.
Use of turmeric in Western healing
According to clinical tests, curcumin – a yellow-orange pigment and a powerful antioxidant – has been shown to be the main factor behind turquoise and its beneficial health effects.
Promising results have been shown, for example, in clinical trials mapping the effects of curcumin in comparison with other commonly used medicinal products. Therefore, even in the Western world, turmeric has become a sought-after helper for joint problems.
Absorbency of turmeric
Although Ayurveda originally worked with turmeric using the above means, today we have the opportunity to use it with more comfort, ie in tablets or capsules. However, the use of turmeric in its natural state could have a small catch, as it is less absorbable in higher doses. Therefore, it is good to use it in capsules that have been modified for this purpose. Some producers can work with turmeric in such a way that it is maximally beneficial for the final consumer. It is desirable that the turmeric capsule does not contain other substances intended for joint nutrition. These substances would bind to each other, reducing the absorption of turmeric. Therefore, it is appropriate to study the composition of joint preparations.
Manufacturers specialising in the processing of natural extracts have technologies that can “shrink” large turmeric crystals in a desirable way, making them as absorbable as possible for patients. One possible solution is turmeric processed in the form of a liquid micro-emulsion into a bio-optimised extract.This form allows the body to absorb the turmeric much better, and then make the most of it. Well-processed capsules with a high curcumin content are becoming increasingly popular in Western Europe.
In a natural way
Even here, many people are looking for natural ways to improve movement. Turmeric and its effects on health are more than convincing. Experience has shown that capsules in which turmeric is well processed can replace some traditionally used products that are not built on a natural basis.
Safety and dosing
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared turmeric safe. Mild side effects were observed when the subject consumed a dose of 8 grams per day, including abdominal pain and diarrhea.
With a little common sense, everyone surely understands that one does not consume such an amount per day. To this day, we know too little about the overuse of turmeric to claim how serious an impact it can have. In any case, the recommended dosage must be followed if you are taking curcumin-based supplements.
According to all the findings so far, the best thing to do is to take a prudent approach to its consumption. Remember, less is sometimes more! We will look forward to the results that scientists will come up with in the coming years. We currently know that consuming turmeric or curcumin within limits is associated with a number of health benefits.