Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Turmeric to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Cancer

It is ironic how something as obvious as nutrition has become overlooked in the modern health care system, and how in the name of convenience our fast paced society has given way to fast foods, microwaves, quick fix medicines, and eating on the run. Fortunately, there is a growing focus in the important role that nutrition plays in maintaining good health. In Ayurveda, India's ancient science of life, health and longevity, food plays a prominent role in promoting health and is therefore considered medicine.
Turmeric is most well known over the longest period of time for its anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties.Although turmeric has been used for many years in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine (primarily as a detox/cleanser) - it is only in the last several years that has developed a growing popularity in worldwide for its multi spectrum medicinal activity.Turmeric is a relative of the ginger family - the botanical name of the Turmeric plant is Curcuma longa L. Besides being used for its therapeutic activity, turmeric is also extremely popular as a food additive (spice). It has been used in Asian cookery for thousands of years.
Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, and while it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry
Curry and other spice blends contain turmeric as a coloring/flavoring agent. It has a bitter - rather sharp but somewhat bland taste (you knew that – right!).What kitchen doesn’t contain a jar of turmeric?So let’s concentrate on the health benefits of Turmeric which you may not know a lot about.The most effective part of the turmeric plant for use in herbal supplements and medical preparations is above/below ground roots (rhizomes). Please be sure that the turmeric in any product you use has come from the root!Rhizomes contain the highest concentration of curcumin, the bright yellow pigment which is the major active ingredient shown in studies to be responsible for turmeric’s medicinal effects.Turmeric has been the subject of a sizable amount of research into its potential as an anti-cancer agent as well as its tumor suppressing properties; anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant capacity.Further health benefits of turmeric are observed through its pain suppressing ability. Most of the studies to date have been on animals however Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have recorded the medicinal health benefits of turmeric in humans over a long period of time.Studies suggest the most recognized health benefits of turmeric to be;
Turmeric’s antioxidant capacity was examined as part of a German research study during 2003 (Screening pharmaceutical preparations containing extracts of turmeric rhizome, artichoke leaf, devil's claw root and garlic or salmon oil for antioxidant capacity).This study found:“All fractions of the turmeric extract preparation exhibited pronounced antioxidant activity, which was assigned to the presence of curcumin and other polyphenols”
In India researchers are focusing on the positive results of treating diabetic patients with curcumin to prevent diabetic health complications. Turmeric is also cited in Spanish research for its ability to decrease the impact of high fat diets and to help liver function in breaking down fatty tissue. As with any herbal extract it is important to take this herb according to label directions in order to derive the strongest (but safest) benefits of turmeric. Few side effects have been reporting in individuals taking turmeric at recommended dosages.If you are allergic to spices including turmeric or to yellow food colorings you should avoid turmeric. This applies to any allergies you may have to any plants of the ginger family.With large doses or long term use turmeric may increase stomach acid levels and possibly lead to heartburn, ulcers, stomach irritation or gallstones. Mild side effects can include skin rash or dizziness.Theoretically turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding when used with anticoagulants (blood thinners) or anti platelet drugs - be sure to mention any herbs you take to your doctor as he may require you to stop taking them prior to surgery.If you have been diagnosed with gallstones, obstructions of the bile ducts, stomach or intestinal ulcers, high levels of stomach acid, immune system diseases or liver conditions you should first talk to you physician before using this herb. The benefits of turmeric and more importantly its possible side effects may not be known by all doctors so it’s important to find one who is familiar with herbal treatments (or is prepared to research the issue for you). Do not take turmeric supplements if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Turmeric may stimulate contractions of the uterus and may cause irregular fluctuations in menstrual periods.Turmeric has the potential to react with some prescription drugs – so if you are taking any consult your doctor before taking turmeric in any supplement form.When used in isolation turmeric will not produce the same results for everybody. So if you wish to take it for the protective qualities it offers to your overall wellness it should be taken in combination with other well known medicinal herbs - as part of a professional, science-based multi ingredient wellness supplement in order to obtain the most effective results.
Curcumin, an ingredient in turmeric, has effects deep in the cell nucleus that go beyond what most herbal remedies are capable of. “Curcumin’s ability to shut off one of the major switches right at the chromosome source where the enlargement and scarring genes are being turned on is impressive,” says Dr. Peter Liu, cardiologist in the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and Scientific Director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Cardiac hypertrophy is a strong predictor of future cardiac problems, including heart attack and heart failure. Researchers at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre of the Toronto General Hospital found that when curcumin was given orally to mice with enlarged hearts, it prevented and even reversed the hypertrophy. If the clinical trials prove that curcumin is effective in humans as well, it will offer the possibility of an inexpensive and safe treatment for millions of people.
Only recently has the herb been studied for the prevention of diseases like cancer and heart disease
Proponents say turmeric (Curcuma longa) may prevent colorectal, prostate, stomach, and other cancers, and could help destroy early-stage tumors. It may also protect against heart disease.

It is believed that the herb can also cure liver health issues, prevent bad cholesterol and block tumors. A recent preliminary research states that turmeric is useful in preventing and blocking the growth of cancer such as melanoma tumor cells, breast cancer, colon cancer and other cancers.

While many of us are aware of the numerous benefits of this deep, exotic yellow spice, few incorporate turmeric in our daily use, other than sprinkling a little of it in our curry. It is an excellent antiseptic. In addition, it is great for the skin. So before investing in an expensive beauty product, take a look in your kitchen.
The turmeric you get in packets is not the pure form, which is why it is best that you try and find someone who supplies pure turmeric powder, or use the root and make your own paste.
In India, Alzheimer’s disease is fairly uncommon, with a less than 1 percent chance of people over the age of sixty-five living in certain rural areas developing the disease. The risk is just 2.4 percent for those who live in the larger cities and rural areas. When comparing these percentiles to the people living over the age of sixty-five in the United States, depending on where we are living, our chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease range from a little under five percent to seventeen percent. The question is, what are people living in India doing differently than we are doing here in the United States? The answer seems to curry, a zesty spice and staple of Indian foods, which has been proven to prevent changes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s disease, and may also reverse some of the damage already present

The numerous benefits of turmeric provide powerful natural remedies as options to dangerous pharmaceutical drugs!

Reduces Pigmentation of the Skin
Plagued with pigmentation? Turmeric can help even out your skin tone and colour. Simply apply a little turmeric mixed with cucumber juice or lemon to the affected area. Leave on for fifteen minutes or more, and wash off. Do this everyday, and gradually you will notice your skin colour returning to normal. But keep in mind that it stains the skin so after applying the pack be sure to wash it with mild face wash.

Strengthens Bones
Drink a quarter glass turmeric juice every night, with milk. The best way to have this is to take a ½ inch piece of turmeric and boil it with half a glass of milk. Once the milk has turned yellow, remove from fire, let it cool slightly, and sip this. This will cure numerous ailments. Women especially should drink this at night, as it strengthens bones and reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis. Don’t overdo it though once in a week is alright.

Softens the Body
Turmeric is a wonderful body scrub, which is why Indian brides apply a turmeric and gram flour (besan) mix to their entire body, the morning of the wedding. It leaves your skin soft, smooth and glowing. Of course, a single application will not really make that much of a difference. Do this regularly, and watch your skin change for the better - much better.

Makes the Skin Supple
If you are planning a pregnancy, apply a mixture of turmeric and malai or turmeric and curd to your stomach and waist before going for a bath. Leave it on for fifteen minutes, and wash off. If desired, you could even apply this mixture after bathing. After you have washed off the soap, apply the malai and haldi mixture, leave it on for five minutes, and wash off only with water. Gently, wipe your stomach with the towel. The sooner you start this routine, the more supple and elastic your skin will become, and after giving birth, you will not be left with unsightly stretch marks.

Inhibits Cell Damage
Turmeric is an excellent anti-oxidant, which essentially means that it stabilizes unstable oxygen molecules. These are known as free radicals, and are what cause damage to cells, leading to ageing and various other diseases such as cancer.

Fights Diarrhoea
Turmeric fights the bacteria that causes diarrhoea, so the next time your stomach starts 'running', reach for some haldi. German health authorities have officially declared turmeric herbal tea to be a cure for loose stools.
All around the world you can now avail of turmeric in the form of teas, capsules, tinctures, lotions, ointments and powder. However, here, you have access to turmeric in its purest form, so make the most use of it.

Reduce Fats
Regular use of turmeric reduces fats, aids blood circulation and purifies it.

Treating digestive disorders
As an anti-inflammatory agent (e.g. treatment of osteoarthritis – reduction of swelling in joints and pain)

Treatment of Arteriosclerosis
may cause a reduction in bad cholesterol that can lead to blockage of the arteries.

Reducing activity of roundworms and intestinal worms
Protection from liver disease
Preventing bacterial infection in wounds
Healing wounds
Eye disorder – possible (natural) treatment for uveitis
Preliminary studies suggest a potential treatment for certain cancers – breast, colon, prostate and skin (only low-quality studies in humans have been conducted)

The nutritional value of turmeric
Calories 354,Fibre 21 g,Potassium 2525mg,Iron 1mg,Per 100g.

The Bottom Line
Research strongly supports turmeric's antioxidant benefits. It could help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, but more human studies are needed. And don’t go crazy over turmeric, just ½ tsp in your curries on a daily basis does the trick. Or you could have with grains and pulses as a snack and always remember, Act today only tomorrow is too late.

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