Rhizome (group of roots attached together)
Known as the "Spice of Life" and "Queen of the Spices", Turmeric is perhaps the most famous of Indian Superfoods. Whilst it is widely used in cooking - no curry is complete without the inclusion of this golden wonder spice - there is not a system in the body that isn't supported by the powerful antioxidant qualities of Turmeric.
It is well known that the powerful active component of Turmeric is curcumin (from curcuminoids - a group of antioxidants that impart the characteristic golden colour). Studies show this compound is a natural anti-inflammatory with a strong antioxidant capacity. With chronic, low-level inflammation thought to play a part in almost every disease, the benefits of getting this important substance are many. Black pepper, more specifically its active constituent “piperine”, has been shown to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin by up to 2000%.
Whilst a lot of studies focus on curcumin extract, it is important not to throw the baby out with the bath water as the whole Turmeric root has many benefits:
Turmeric has been found to increase the expression of perforin - a protein that plays an important role in immune response. It was shown to be twice as effective as curcumin alone in initiating immune responses.
Not only does turmeric contain powerful antioxidants which neutralise damaging free radicals, it also increases the activity of the body's own antioxidant enzymes - directly blocking, then stimulating the body's own antioxidant mechanisms against free radicals.
Turmeric is linked to improved brain function, especially in the areas of memory and attention span - curcumin has been shown to boost levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.
Curcumin improves the function of endothelium - the lining of the blood vessels. Endothelium dysfunction is a well known driver of heart disease.
Arthritis Pain Relief
Most cases of arthritis involve some kind of inflammation of the joints. Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric has been found to improve various symptoms including pain.
Turmeric benefits don't stop there - its antibacterial properties can help to heal wounds and skin abrasions, it increases liver function and moderates insulin response. It is also especially rich in B vitamins, vitamin C and a wide spectrum of essential minerals.
Powdered turmeric is often used as a colourant in foods, and is a staple in curry sauces. It is known as Indian Saffron. It has been used traditionally to dye cloth, the orange colour of monk’s robes comes from turmeric.
Turmeric is highly prized as a sacred plant in India. It is made into a paste and used to anoint and adorn the skin in religious and marriage ceremonies.
Turmeric contains curcuminoids (curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin), and a volatile oil containing turmerone, zingiberene, cineole, monoterpenes, starch & proteins, Vitamins: C, B2, B3, B6, Folate, E & K. Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Copper & Manganese.
Turmeric can cause heartburn, stomach cramps or nausea.