Turmeric: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory
8 minute read
Inflammation is very common and can be caused by any number of problems. It is easily identified by the presence of pain, warmth, redness, swelling, and loss of function.
The process of inflammation is controlled by chemical messages that alert our immune system when a part of your body needs help. The problem is that once started, inflammation can overwhelm your immune response and eventually lead to chronic inflammation.
Inflammation can be either acute or chronic. An acute response happens after a traumatic injury or in response to a specific condition.
Chronic inflammation occurs over a long period of time and may be so gradual that you do not even notice it developing. This version can be caused by a long-term, low-grade infection, poor diet, or immune dysfunction (autoimmune disorders).
The Problem With Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can cause serious and complicated diseases and health problems. The problem is that you may only notice it here and there.
You may only be aware of some stomach pain after a meal or a sore joint in the morning, but the chronic inflammatory cycle causes cell death and the breakdown of important tissues. For many of us, it will come as a surprise that inflammation is the underlying factor present in almost every chronic health condition.
Inflammation contributes or is involved in the development of several serious diseases, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, Crohn's Disease, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and even cancer.
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There are several medications and treatments to deal with inflammation, most commonly are NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). While these medications can help to alleviate symptoms of inflammation, they can come with some unpleasant side effects which cause people to avoid them.
Repeated use of NSAIDs can contribute to digestive problems including ulcers. Thankfully, there is a more natural alternative that is just as effective if not more so.
All you have to do is open the spice cabinet to find it.
Turmeric and Inflammation
Curcumin is the primary ingredient of turmeric and it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has been used for centuries in India and China for medicinal and healing purposes.
The inflammation situation is actually a double-edged sword; we need inflammation to protect us from a pathogenic takeover, but chronically it will be responsible for the breakdown of the body from within.
To make sure we avoid these chronic situations and keep inflammation under control, turmeric seems like a simple, effective solution. Curcumin helps to keep inflammation responses controlled by interfering with the pathway on a molecular level.
NF-kB is a molecule that travels to the nuclei of cells and stimulates the inflammation-related genes. Curcumin prevents this molecule meeting the nuclei in a more natural way than the leading medications, and there are little to no side effects.
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Along with inflammation, oxidative damage is known to contribute to aging and many diseases. Thankfully, curcumin also possesses antioxidant qualities to neutralize free radicals, prevent damage, and even boost memory.
Is Turmeric Safe for the Treatment of Inflammation?
Given that turmeric has been used in diets across the world for centuries, it is thought to be relatively safe. It is generally considered safe for oral use daily up to 2.2 grams.
For the majority of healthy individuals, turmeric supplements do not result in any serious side effects or damage. However, as with any treatment, it should be monitored by your physician, and too much may end up being a bad thing.
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Curcumin is not easily absorbed due to its low bioavailability, so it is recommended that it be taken with black pepper to ensure it makes it to the places in the body where it is needed.
There are certain conditions where it may not be safe to take curcumin or turmeric supplements. Be cautious if you have:
♦ Gallstones or bile duct obstruction
♦ Bleeding disorders (Curcumin can slow blood clotting and increase bruising.)
♦ GERD or notice that your GERD symptoms get worse after taking turmeric
♦ Infertility concerns or are trying to become pregnant
♦ Iron deficiency
♦ Had surgery recently or are getting ready for surgery
How to Add Turmeric to Your Day
Outside of the traditional method of eating curry which contains generous amounts of turmeric, there are a few alternative ways to ensure you get some turmeric each day. These methods are recommended for those who suffer from inflammatory-related illnesses.
Of course, there is also the option to take a daily supplement capsule.
Turmeric tea: You can boil one teaspoon of ground turmeric in water, simmer for ten minutes and then strain into a cup. You can add lemon or honey to taste.
Also ginger is a nice addition because it delivers its own natural anti-inflammatory properties.
Topical application: You can create a turmeric paste by mixing turmeric powder with warm water, sesame oil, or warm milk. This is ideal for application to exterior areas of the body that are swollen.
It has long been used in paste form to clean wounds, reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Include it in your meals: Turmeric can easily be added to rice as well as scrambled eggs. It is great for mixing in with roasted vegetables and easily blended into soups and smoothies.
The Bottom Line
No matter how you decide to add turmeric to your life, chances are you will be grateful. Inflammation can be caused by any number of lifestyle and dietary factors and in turn contributes to serious illness and disease.
Simply adding a little spice to your life could be the easiest way to avoid the problems and keep you healthy.
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