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Turmeric [with curcumin]: The Wonder Spice [with Comment by PHB]

Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND / Rocky Montana

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April 15, 2016

Well I'm a bit excited by all my study links but I had to share some of these amazing findings!  The benefits of turmeric seem endless and the list keeps growing!  I am blown away with all the research and potential health benefits from this humble little root.  It has been reported that turmeric has over 500 health benefits and it may positively modulate over 700 gene expressions in the body!  Turmeric is a rhizome and belongs to the ginger family.

Turmeric contains a major active component called curcumin, this compound is the subject of more than 5,700 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies.  This humble spice is one of the most researched medicinal plants in the world today.

Ancient Chinese and Indian medicine have been using this spice to treat many health ailments for thousands of years. This spice is commonly associated with Indian and Asian cooking and is often seen in curry spice blends.  The deep colour represents its rich anti-oxidant and phyto-nutrient profile.

I use turmeric in clinic for a range of health disorders regularly due to its wide variety of medicinal properties. It’s a true wonder spice!

Here are some of its main health benefits:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease Reduction – Turmeric can also help preserve memory and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by the build-up of amyloid protein (plaques) within the brain, blocking connections between nerve cells in the brain effecting memory, curcumin has been shown to reduce the accumulation of these plaques.
  • Fights Infections – It is used as an antimicrobial as it has been shown to kill infections particularly in the digestive tract and topically as a paste. A broad-spectrum of resistant infections can be resolved with the use of this spice.
  • Anti-DepressionA study this year has concluded that turmeric may be as effective as fluoxetine (an anti-depressant) in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) and other depressive disorders.
  • Lower Cholesterol – Turmeric has been shown to be helpful for the protection of the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.  A 2008 study published in the journal Drugs in R & D found that a standardized preparation of curcuminoids which are found in turmeric compared favourably with atorvastatin (lipotor) on the reduction of tissue inflammatory cytokines and markers of oxidative stress in type 2 diabetic patients.  This inflammatory reaction within the blood vessels is said to be the largest contributing factor in the underlying pathology for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Some studies have been comparing its benefits with a number of prescribed medications without the side-effects that are so commonly seen with many medications.  Medication can often cause numerous side-effects that in some cases can be worse than the disease itself in the longer-term. Turmeric shows little or no side-effects at all.

An important recommendation to improve the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin is to combine it with pepper.  Peperine, a pepper phyto-nutrient that creates the hot has been shown to increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%.  Due to the fact curcumin is a fat-soluble phenol compound, the absorption of this anti-oxidant will be improved by consuming turmeric with healthy fats.

To improve the absorption of the medicinal properties from this wonder spice. Consume turmeric with natural fats in meals, juices or smoothies. Using avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and other healthy fats, and adding a dash of pepper to enhance its bioavailability!

Ways to Eat Turmeric:

  • Mix turmeric in olive oil for a salad dressing and seasoning with a dash of sea salt and pepper.
  • Slightly heat turmeric, pepper and coconut oil when making curries or any other spice based meal.
  • Roast or sauté vegetables with oil, turmeric and pepper.
  • Add fresh or dried turmeric to a smoothie containing coconut milk, almond milk or avocado.
  • Add turmeric into a vegetable juice and add a teaspoon of oil (avocado, coconut, hemp or cold-pressed olive oil) and a dash of pepper if desired.
  • Make spiced soups with fresh or dried turmeric, oil and pepper.
  • Take it directly off the spoon with a drizzle of any healthy oil and pepper.
  • Traditionally Ayurverdic medicine uses golden milk to treat health ailments or as a health beverage.  This is the process of making a paste from turmeric and coconut oil and adding it to a milk product.


So I hope after reading about this wonder spice you will feel more inclined to add it to meals, smoothies and perhaps to some of your juices to enjoy the vast healing and health benefits it has to offer ! 

[RM:  Or you can purchase Turmeric capsules at your local health food store.  You will find several Turmeric capsule products on the shelf.  Example: Jarro sells a bottle of 60 - 500 mg. capsules for about $20.00.]

PHB:  [Or you can purchase Tumeric capsules, 720 mg, 230 capsules for $9.49 from Swanson's Health Products, Box 2803, Fargo, ND 5810 -]

Swanson's also have Tumeric & Black Pepper 60 veg.. caps, sale price 2 for $9.99.


Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND

Claire Georgiou is an Australian Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist who has completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Compl. Medicine) and an Advanced Diploma of Nutrition, Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine. She has more than 14 years of clinical experience specializing in liver disease, autoimmune disease, thyroid conditions, diabetes, insulin resistance, digestive disorders, chronic infections, children’s health, fertility and pregnancy care. Claire consults in private practice in Sydney and also offers consults out of area and is an accredited member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. Claire has worked closely for many years with Dr. Sandra Cabot, who is known as the “Liver Cleansing Doctor” and has written more than 25 health related books. Claire writes health related articles, creates healthy recipes and is one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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Andrew Weil, M.D.

In addition to its use as a culinary spice, turmeric has been used traditionally in India as a disinfectant and treatment for laryngitis, bronchitis, and diabetes. Turmeric is derived from the rhizomes (underground stems) of the plant Curcuma longa, a member of the ginger family.  It is responsible for the yellow color of Indian curry and American mustard.  Curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is the most active constituent of turmeric.  [RM: Ginger is also a powerful natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory rhizome.]

Population studies have shown that elderly villagers in India appear to have the lowest rate of Alzheimer's disease in the world, and researchers have speculated that the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may be partly responsible.  (Alzheimer's begins as an inflammatory process in the brain, and Indians eat turmeric with almost every meal).  So far, however, I've seen no evidence of benefit from curcumin supplementation in Alzheimer's patients.

Other studies of turmeric and curcumin have shown the following benefits:

  • Turmeric extract worked as well as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in a study published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
  • Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin acts as a weak phytoestrogen and seems to have cancer protective effects.
  • Lab studies have also shown that curcumin induces programmed death of colon cancer cells, and clinical trials are investigating the use of curcumin in treatment of colon cancer.
  • Curcumin suppresses microinflammation in the GI tract associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

I frequently recommend turmeric supplements, and I believe whole turmeric is more effective than isolated curcumin for inflammatory disorders, including arthritis, tendonitis, and autoimmune conditions.  Take 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric extracts (available in tablets or capsules) three times per day or as directed on the product label.  Look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids.  Neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, a constituent of black pepper responsible for its pungency.  When shopping for supplements, make sure that the one you choose contains black pepper extract or piperine.  (If you're cooking with turmeric, be sure to add some black pepper to the food.).  Be patient when taking turmeric supplements: the full benefits may not be apparent for eight weeks.

 Don't use turmeric if you have gallstones or bile duct dysfunction.  Pregnant women shouldn't use it without their doctors' approval.  In rare cases, extended use can cause stomach upset or heartburn.  (Note that piperine can slow the elimination of some prescription drugs including phenytoin [Dilantin], propranolol [Inderal], and theophylline.  Some evidence also suggests that curcumin can interfere with a chemotherapy agent used to treat breast cancer, so if you're being treated for this disease, be sure to discuss the advisability of taking curcumin with your physician.