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tumericI hear testimonials on late-night radio for tumeric.  Enough so, that I decided to look it up.

First, just what IS tumeric?  WIKI tells me:

“Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to tropical South Asia and needs temperatures between 20°C and 30°C (68°F and 86°F) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive. Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes, and propagated from some of those rhizomes in the following season.”

“Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell. Curcumin has been a centre of attraction for potential treatment of an array of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, allergies, arthritis and other chronic illnesses.”

“In India, turmeric has been used traditionally for thousands of years as a remedy for stomach and liver ailments, as well as topically to heal sores, basically for its antimicrobial property. In the (Indian subcontinent) turmeric was a medicine for a range of diseases and conditions, including those of the skin, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal systems, aches, pains, wounds, sprains, and liver disorders. A fresh juice is commonly used in many skin conditions, including eczema, chicken pox, shingles, allergy, and scabies. The active compound curcumin is known to have a wide range of biological effects including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, antibacterial, and antiviral activities, which indicate huge potential in veterinary and clinical medicine. In Chinese medicine, it is used for treatment of various infections and as an antiseptic.” (1)

Now I know WHAT it is, do I WANT IT?

Here is what the University of Maryland Medical Center says.

“Studies show that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems, and it has gotten a lot of press lately. But remember several facts when you hear news reports about turmeric. First, many studies have taken place in test tubes and animals, and turmeric may not work as well in humans. Second, some studies have used an injectable form of curcumin, the active substance in turmeric. Finally, some of the studies show conflicting evidence. . . .  Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can fight free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. In addition, curcumin lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. It also stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.” (2)

The center concludes that research suggests that turmeric may be helpful for some conditions, but for each positive, it has some reservations.  Be sure to study COMPLETE medical studies, not just one-sided or limited reports.

Here is one summary you might find useful:

“Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

“The effectiveness ratings for TURMERIC are as follows:

Possibly effective for…  

•Stomach upset (dyspepsia). Some research shows that taking turmeric by mouth might help improve an upset stomach.

•Osteoarthritis. Some research shows that taking some turmeric extracts can reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis of the knee. In one study, turmeric worked about as well as ibuprofen for reducing pain.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…  

•Skin cancer. There is some evidence that applying a turmeric ointment might help to relieve odor and itching caused by skin cancer.

•Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, might help reduce some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

•Jaundice.

•Hepatitis.

•Diarrhea.

•Fibromyalgia.

•Liver and gallbladder problems.

•Headache.

•Menstrual problems.

•Pain.

•Ringworm.

•Bruising.

•Eye infections.

•Skin problems.

•Alzheimer’s disease.

•Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate turmeric for these uses.” (3)

(1) WIKI

(2) UMM ARTICLE

(3) NATIONAL INSITITUTES OF HEALTH

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