What’s all the fuss about Turmeric?
Have you jumped aboard the latest craze of turmeric? Maybe you’ve swapped your morning long black coffee for a turmeric latte or you’re turning all your cooking yellow with the delicious spice! It’s fantastic to make healthy changes in your life, but it’s also important to understand what we’re putting into our bodies and why.
Let’s clarify a few things, so next time you’re having your turmeric latte, (How very Melbourne of you!) you can discuss the benefits with your coffee date.
Turmeric is a yellow spice, which has curcumin as its active ingredient. The curcumin is the important part. It helps to decrease inflammatory properties in the body, so it actually acts like an anti-inflammatory agent – but it’s natural. You may know of pharmaceutical medications that act as anti-inflammatory drugs – this includes the very popular Nurofen and Voltaren.
Current research shows that curcumin lacks major side effects, therefore it acts as a great natural accompaniment to other anti-inflammatory drugs or on its own right if you want to avoid taking any pharmaceutical medication as an anti-inflammatory.
So is the turmeric you’re cooking with helping? Most likely not to its full capacity, and that’s due to the bioavailability (ability for the body to breakdown and absorb it) and dose. Curcumin isn’t easy for the body to absorb because of its particle size and solubility. When taking curcumin for therapeutic reasons, it’s best to take it in the form of a tablet.
This is because it has been clinically proven to:
- Include cofactors to assist with absorption in the gut,
- Have an increased solubility for absorption,
- Contain a therapeutic dose that is beneficial for your body in fighting against inflammation.
This means it has a higher bioavailability when compared to the turmeric we use in cooking! A turmeric latte might be delicious, but it won’t be providing the therapeutic benefits of it acting as a natural anti-inflammatory that you may be after.
The benefits of high dose turmeric/curcumin may include:
- Reducing chronic joint inflammation associated with arthritis,
- Providing antioxidant support that helps protect our bodies against bad free radicals, which damage our cells,
- Assisting in preventing LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol),
- Healthy gut function.
Even though curcumin is a naturally occurring substance it can still have some interactions with certain drugs or should be taken with caution during certain situations. As such, it’s not recommended for use during pregnancy or lactation. Turmeric can also cause gallbladder contractions and so should not be used by patients with gallstone or bile duct issues. Individuals who take anticoagulants or anti-platelet drugs should also avoid taking turmeric.
If you’re requiring further guidance, support and musculoskeletal care with your inflammatory condition, have a look into a turmeric supplement, and perhaps leave your latte for fun J If you require further assistance on turmeric, please contact us, speak to your pharmacist, naturopath or GP to help.