Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family native to South-East Asia which has used for thousands of years as a safe traditional herbal medicine in both India and China to treat cancer, inflammatory disorders, reduce high cholesterol levels, suppress thrombosis and reduce symptoms associated with diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

It has demonstrated ability to inhibit HIV replication, enhance wound healing and has bile-stimulating properties.

It has also been used traditionally for stomach ailments, including peptic ulcers along with biliary dysfunction.

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It is also used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and asthma due to its anti-inflammatory properties by targeting multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway, including inhibition of NF-kB  Its wide range of medicinal properties including antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral activity.

It can also be used topically for skin conditions, especially in a poultice to help heal sores and has even been demonstrated in some studies to help with depression!

Turmeric is also my number one liver herb due to its actions on the liver.  Not only does it have hepatoprotective properties but it encourages more efficient liver detoxification.  It is a very safe herb with no remarkable side-effects and can be taken in high doses.

It works wonderfully as an adjuvant to chemotherapy as it increases apoptosis in various types of cancers has a unique ability to aid the survival of healthy cells.

It is also useful in diabetes as it reduces blood sugar and inhibits inflammation.

Turmeric is also very useful for the circulatory system due to its ability to improving endothelial function, in turn helping to regulate blood pressure and reducing cardiac risk.

Cautions when using turmeric

As with all herbs it is best to seek advice from a registered herbalist.

Care should be taken when turmeric in high doses is combined with anticoagulant medication or antiplatelet medications as it could potentiate the effects of these medications and increase bruising and bleeding.

Always seek professional advice if pregnant or lactating and although turmeric is very safe, it has been known to cause a bit of gastric disturbance in large quantities.

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How to take turmeric

The rhizome of the plant is used.  This is the fleshy bright yellow root part which contains curcuminoids, the phytonutrients which give turmeric its wide-ranging health-giving properties.

Everyone is familiar with the bright yellow dried turmeric powder used in Indian cooking.

You can add this to food or make a delicious warm drink with almond or coconut milk simmered on the stove with a little bit of cinnamon. You can also buy it fresh from most specialist supermarkets and it is great juiced with carrot, ginger, spinach, celery and a bit of apple.

Turmeric is not easily absorbed by the body and its bioavailability is increased up to 20 times by the addition of piperine, a compound found in black or long pepper.

It is also better absorbed when taken with fat so a nice way to have it is mixed with coconut oil and spread on rice cakes or dehydrated vegetable crackers.

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