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Published on Jul 4, 2015
In recent years turmeric(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turmeric) has wildly grown in popularity along with other so called super-foods, but this perennial plant of the ginger family, native to southwest India, has actually been used for thousands of years for a variety of purposes. First used as a textile dye and later for its medicinal properties, it's probably most popular as a cooking ingredient in Indian cuisine. One of its active chemical compounds, curcumin, is what gives turmeric its slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery taste and the distinctive yellow color.
Numerous studies, conducted in more recent years, have found that turmeric is not only a delicious spice, but has many health benefits as well. This is hardly a surprise since it has long been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for treating, among other things, gastrointestinal, pulmonary and liver diseases, various pains and aches, wounds and skin problems. Turmeric owes its healing powers mostly to its primary component curcumin, which was first isolated from the Curcuma longa (the Latin name of the turmeric plant) in 1815 and its structure as a diferuloylmethane was determined in 1910.
Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and as such it is highly effective at helping alleviate pain associated with various chronic diseases, most notably rheumatoid arthritis. A recent study conducted in Japan discovered that curcumin significantly reduces the inflammatory markers involved in the rheumatoid arthritis process and this suggests that turmeric could be used as a part of successful prevention strategies before the onset of the disease. Turmeric has also shown to reduce blood sugar levels and has a positive effect on insulin resistance thus improving metabolic function and benefiting people suffering from diabetes. Its natural antiseptic and antibacterial properties aid in the healing of wounds and make it great for skincare since it reduces redness and other skin irritations.
However, turmeric is probably best known as a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system. Working on cellular level, curcumin improves mitochondrial function and inhibits the growth of cancer sells thus aiding in the prevention of various types of cancer. Nevertheless, since it is difficult to acquire the high quantities of curcumin, needed to achieve significant health benefits only from food, it is advisable to take additional supplements containing turmeric. But if used for skincare, turmeric could be added to face masks and scrubs, and of course it is a delicious and health promoting addition not only to Indian dishes, but to soups, marinades and tea as well.