Turmeric Powder: Asia’s Arcane Cure-All?

If you’re not from Asia or the Middle East, then chances are that you’ve never heard of Turmeric powder. If you’ve ever lived next door to an Indian or Asian family, though, you might recognize it as “that smell” that is emanating from their apartment 24 hours a day. The yellowish powder, ground down from a type of ginger root found in the rain forests of South Asia, is most known for its use in curries, but is employed in a litany of Asian and Middle Eastern dishes as well.

Thanks to large amounts of the substance Curcumin, Turmeric powder has been renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties since it initially became widely distributed back in the Middle Ages. However, recent studies have been published that have not only shed light on the powder’s efficacy as an anti-inflammatory agent, but have proven that Curcumin can do much more than simply curb inflammation.

In a recent study published in the Alternative Medicine Review, Curcumin was shown to not only reduce inflammatory markers, but did a better job than the “best available” NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs). The study itself featured two groups of 50 people, all of which had confirmed cases of osteoarthritis. One group used “the best available treatment” (probably Ibuprofen) while the other group used a blend that included about 200 mg of Curcumin, the daily recommended dose. Not only did the first group experience a quicker mitigation of their symptoms, but had virtually no side effects as well.

The fun doesn’t just stop here, though. In recent years, Curcumin’s ability to fight and prevent cancer has garnered much attention in the scientific community. In the past year alone, over 200 studies have been carried out on the ways Curcumin prevents metastasis. For example, one study has found that Curcumin slows down the growth of tumors by altering the ways cell signal to one another, thus acting as a moderator on cell replication. Not only does it slow down the growth of tumors, but increases apoptosis in cells, which is a sort of programmed self destruction that cells use to stop themselves from becoming overabundant. Similarly, other studies have discovered that the substance reduces the buildup of amyloid plaques, which is believed to facilitate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though it’s easy to dismiss the pungent taste of Turmeric powder as an acquired taste, it may be time to start acquiring that taste, since America is one of the most carcinogenic countries to live in, where cell phones and even “healthy” products like ab belts are shoved down our throats, exposing us to gratuitous amounts of radiation. When you take in this waterfall of carcinogenic products that consumerism brings in, it’s no wonder that cancer rates are 10 times higher than India’s, and 3 times higher than China’s (the two countries with the highest Turmeric consumption).


Eric Hirota is a personal trainer at LAVA Sport & Fitness in San Diego, CA. Aside from nutrition and exercise, writing and web design are his main passions in life.

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