Turmeric and its beneficial effects
The main active ingredient in turmeric, which gives the spice its characteristic yellow color, is curcumin. Curcumin is an extract of the active ingredients in turmeric. Curcumin is a polyphenol whose main medicinal properties are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.
Turmeric is a spice that has long been known for its ''medicinal'' properties, being the main source of polyphenol curcumin.
What is the difference between turmeric and curcumin?
Turmeric is a spice that has attracted a lot of interest in both the medical/scientific and culinary worlds. Turmeric is a family of over 100 plant species. When we talk about turmeric, we are referring to the plant scientifically known as 'Curcuma longa' or 'Turmeric' in English. It originates from the tropical forests of Asia, specifically China, India, and Indonesia.
It is a close relative of ginger and a plant with extremely beautiful, decorative leaves and even more beautiful white flowers. It is mainly used as a spice and gives dishes a distinctively Asian flavor and yellow color. The medicinal properties of turmeric have been known for millennia. In Asian countries, it is traditionally used as an herb that has many benefits for the optimal functioning of the body.
What is curcumin?
The main active ingredient in turmeric, which gives the spice its characteristic yellow color, is curcumin. Curcumin is an extract of the active ingredients in turmeric. Curcumin is a polyphenol whose main healing properties are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.
Curcumin is the main curcuminoid. Of all the curcuminoids in turmeric, curcumin accounts for 80% Studies have shown that curcumin acts on several signaling molecules while exhibiting activity at the cellular level. It has been shown to have a beneficial effect on inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, and pain and to help with eye diseases. It is also thought to benefit the kidneys.
Global uses of turmeric
In India, for example, turmeric containing curcumin is used in curries, in Japan it is served in tea, in Thailand it is used in cosmetics, in China it is used as a coloring agent and in Korea, it is served in drinks.
In Malaysia it is used as an antiseptic, in Pakistan, it is used as an anti-inflammatory agent and in the United States, it is used as a preservative and coloring agent in mustard sauce, cheese, butter, and chips, in addition to capsules and powder. Curcumin is available in many forms, including capsules, tablets, ointments, energy drinks, soaps, and cosmetics.
Curcumin and its effect on our body
- Curcumin acts as a potential antioxidant
Studies suggest that antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are the two main mechanisms that explain most of the curcumin's effects on various conditions. The main reason why antioxidants are so beneficial is to protect the body against free radicals.
Most antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables.
Some studies suggest that curcumin may block the action of free radicals and stimulate the action of other antioxidants. Further clinical studies are needed to confirm these benefits.
- Curcumin and its effect on oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is implicated in many chronic diseases and its pathological processes are closely linked to inflammatory processes, as one can easily be induced by the other.
Inflammatory cells are known to release several reactive species at the site of inflammation, leading to oxidative stress, and demonstrating the link between oxidative stress and inflammation.
Oxidative stress occurs as a result of excess reactive oxygen species in the body. It is influenced by various viruses, environmental pollutants, stress, high glucose levels, ultraviolet radiation, smoking, and other disease-causing factors. Free radicals produced as a result of oxidative stress can damage our DNA, and lipids and cause premature skin aging or photoaging.
Studies show that curcumin is thought to block the activation of a transcription factor that increases when inflammation occurs in the body.
- Curcumin may also affect joints
Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint disease associated with both chronic and acute inflammation. It has affected more than 250 million people worldwide. Although osteoarthritis was once thought to be primarily a degenerative and non-inflammatory condition, it is now recognized that it has some inflammatory aspects, including elevated levels of cytokines.
There is now a growing interest in alternative ''treatments'', which include various dietary supplements with curcumin. Studies investigating the effect of curcumin on osteoarthritis report that the curcumin group experienced a significant reduction in pain and improvement in physical function. However, further research is still needed.
- Curcumin and its effect on skin health
Due to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, turmeric can be an effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema (atopic dermatitis), photo-aging, and psoriasis. However, reliable research confirming its action is still lacking.
Is curcumin that effective?
Despite reported benefits through inflammatory and antioxidant mechanisms, one of the main problems with consuming curcumin alone is its poor bioavailability, which seems to be mainly due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid elimination.
Also, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high. Most studies use curcumin extracts, with doses typically exceeding 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to achieve these levels by using turmeric as a spice in food alone. To achieve effective doses of turmeric, people are choosing to use dietary supplements with curcumin.
1 Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/