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9 Healing Benefits of Turmeric

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Food IS Medicine

I love talking about foods with medicinal properties because food is medicine!

Many of my patients are struggling with chronic diseases...of all sorts...and many of them result, at least in part, from chronic inflammation. Instead of anti-inflammatory medications, I suggest starting with anti-inflammatory foods.

We could probably geek out all day about all of the benefits of turmeric, but here are a few things I think you’ll find interesting and helpful.

Active Compound

Turmeric root’s best known and most studied active ingredient is curcumin, a powerful antioxidant. The curcumin content of turmeric is only around 3% by weight, and it is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream on its own.

In order to increase the healing benefits of the turmeric you eat, use a little black pepper and some healthy fat to activate the curcumin. Here’s my recipe for activated turmeric paste, which makes it easy to add more anti-inflammatory power to your diet.

Don't let that bioavailability thing keep you from eating fresh, organic turmeric root! The coolest thing about whole foods is they contain not only the active compounds we KNOW of but also lots of other compounds and cofactors [some of which we have yet to identify] designed to work together. This is called “nutrient synergy”. If you’re following me on social media, you may have heard me say this before!

Based upon research studies [I’ve added a few below for your geeking pleasure], it has been shown that curcumin does many amazing things for your health! The list is long, and here are nine of them.

9 Healing Benefits of Turmeric

1. Brain Health

Studies show that curcumin increases BDNF.

What does this mean and why should you care, you ask? BDNF is a nerve growth factor which essentially supports existing nerve cells and helps you grow more of them. Hello! Anyone want better memory and capacity for learning?

One day I’ll do another blog on BDNF...there's so much to say about it. Meanwhile, just know that curcumin, from turmeric, helps support this.

2. Vascular Health

Curcumin has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease by several mechanisms. One of them is by improving the function of your endothelium, the cells lining your blood vessels.

Endothelial dysfunction results from smoking and various chronic conditions including diabetes or metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and physical inactivity.

One small study found that curcumin can help ward off heart attacks in people who have had bypass surgery.

Another study showed curcumin improved endothelial function by increasing the bioavailability of nitric oxide, which relaxes vessels, and also by reducing oxidative stress.

And men, while we’re thinking about vascular health, please remember that this directly affects ALL vessels in your body, including the ones affecting your sexual function.

3. Lowers LDL cholesterol

High LDL cholesterol is, sadly, a common condition. Some of it is genetically determined, and some is related to diet and inflammation.

There is no one simple answer to how to lower your LDL cholesterol, but a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials concluded that curcumin can be helpful. Clearly, this will also improve your overall cardiovascular health.

Just remember that your genes are not your destiny, and I have plenty of patients with a family history of cholesterol issues and heart disease who have turned their health around. This could be you too, and I’d love to chat with you about how!