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Turmeric is commonly known as an essential kitchen ingredient in Asia. However, its value lies more in its medicinal properties and health benefits. It is a powerful antioxidant and a strong anti-inflammatory agent which has been used in traditional Asian systems of medicine to control multiple conditions like digestive problems, pain, arthritis and inflammation in sprains.

Medicinal Properties of Turmeric

Turmeric has a number of nutrients that contribute to good health. It is a source of vitamins like vitamins B6 and C and minerals like iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Curcuminoid is a group of phenolics (antioxidants) of which the active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin; it gives the yellow-orange color and has anti-cancer properties. The essential oil in turmeric provides the aroma and spicy taste.

Turmeric is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-ulcer and works as an antiseptic and antibiotic. It is also an anti-inflammatory agent, like ginger or aspirin. This is due to the presence of antioxidants.

Turmeric corrects any irregular nutrition processes and restores normal functions of the body. Moreover, it has anti-mutagenic properties, and thus prevents damage to genetic material through mutation

Health Benefits of Turmeric

The antioxidants in turmeric have special health benefits.

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* They inhibit the damage done by free radicals, prevent cancer and even reduce the side effects of chemical treatment like chemotherapy. Studies in UK have shown that consumption of curry twice a week prevents cancer due to the presence of turmeric in the curry. It prevents and alleviates cancers of the blood, lung, throat and breast, without the side effects of anti-cancer drugs. Studies have also proved that it is a potent anti-viral agent against HIV.

* Antioxidants provide protection against environmental pollution and microbial toxins, and prevent premature aging.

* They synthesize important vitamins like Vitamin D and hormones like the adrenal cortex hormones and thus reduce the risks of hypertension, arteriosclerosis and heart diseases.

The ancient Indian systems of medicine, ayurveda and unani, have used turmeric through the ages for its curative and therapeutic properties. Due to its antiseptic qualities, turmeric is prescribed for common ailments like stomach ache, hepatic and intestinal disorders and even chronic diarrhea. Moreover, it is useful in preventing and treating colds and coughs and throat problems. Due to the anti-bacterial action of the essential oils, turmeric can fight diseases like cholera, typhoid and diphtheria.

It prevents flatulence and helps to expel worms. Turmeric powder boiled in milk helps to alleviate diverse conditions like a cold and body ache. It is a blood purifier and general tonic. Turmeric is rich in iron, and prevents anemia.

The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric make it beneficial in the prevention and treatment of inflammatory disorders like asthma, swelling in sprains, sinusitis, joint inflammation, inflammatory bowel diseases and even multiple sclerosis. The curcumin in turmeric is useful in the treatment of arthritis and osteoporosis, as it prevents the production of anti-inflammatory proteins which are destructive to the joints. It also prevents bone loss and osteoporosis.

Turmeric is not just a spice; it has many health benefits. It is good for painful and inflammatory conditions, digestive and skin problems and cardiovascular diseases. It is an excellent antiseptic, both external and internal. Due to its antioxidant properties, it fights harmful free radicals and diseases like cancer, and is therefore a useful addition to the diet.


Bakhru, H.K, Herbs that Heal, Orient Paperbacks, 2008.

Kumar, Vijaya, The secret benefits of Spices and Condiments, Sterling Publishers, 2008.

Indianspices.com, Turmeric, (accessed April 26, 2010).

Turmeric.co.in, Turmeric, the golden spice of life, (accessed April 26, 2010)

Read more at Suite101: Medicinal Properties and Health Benefits of Turmeric http://holistic-nutrition.suite101.com/ ... z0mFuyP0F5

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I have heard for years about the great healing properties of tumeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and Auryvedic therapies...and I have no doubt that what we eat impacts our overall health, but India has a current average life span of 63.7 years while the US's is 78.4. For all we moan about the health system in the US and tout the value of alternative therapies, this makes me wonder. I realize it is only one part of the problem. Nutrition, access to any health care, environmental conditions, clean water...if all these were equal, maybe the stats would be significantly altered. Just waxing here.

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