If you missed part 1 of this article on the health benefits of turmeric, we encourage you to check it out. It outlines the research regarding turmeric and cancer, and the data simply blew my mind.
To recap, the compound in turmeric at the heart of all the scientific excitement is called Curcumin. Curcumin has been the subject of over 6,600 published scientific studies and can positively influence over 160 human biological processes (that we know of thus far).
Keep in mind that this article is meant to be informative and is not intended to replace the advice or treatment plan of a trusted health professional.
Health Benefits of Turmeric (Curcumin) for Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a devastating illness, both for the sufferer and their family, and is the leading cause of dementia in the US. Unfortunately, there are no effective solutions for Alzheimer’s in either the medical world or the drug industry.
However, there is plenty of scientific data suggesting that we should further our investigation of turmeric health benefits for both preventing and possibly treating Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Scientists in this study reported no apparent side effects of Curcumin on test subjects. They said that curcumin “will lead to a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s disease” because of its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, these 3 studies (1) (2) (3) demonstrated Curcumin’s ability to help the immune system clear up “amyloid plaques” in the brain, which are proteins that accumulate and tangle in Alzheimer’s Disease.
- It is also widely known that inflammation and oxidative damage play a significant role in Alzheimer’s Disease, and this study showed Curcumin to have a beneficial effect on both.
- •As far as dementia is concerned, this case study reported significant improvement in behavioral and psychological symptoms with turmeric.
The Alzheimer’s/Inflammation connection is certainly at the heart of this disease, and Curcumin is showing wonderful scientific promise as a simple, natural, and cost-effective answer.
Health Benefits of Turmeric for Inflammation
Ancient cultures first observed turmeric as having anti-inflammatory properties, and science is now verifying this claim.
- These 3 studies (1) (2) (3) concluded that Curcumin was as powerful as many anti-inflammatory drugs. Scientists concluded that “Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric that humans have used for thousands of years. Research shows that Curcumin interacts with many different molecules involved in inflammation. Clinical trials show that Curcumin could help treat various diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, pancreatic problems, and various kinds of cancer.”
- These 3 studies (1) (2) (3) all demonstrated that Curcumin blocked a specific molecule from getting into cells which turned on genes associated with inflammation.
- And this study showed that Curcumin has a promising therapeutic effect on several health challenges with an inflammatory component, including neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, autoimmune, and neoplastic diseases.
We will talk about arthritis in a moment. Still, another promising study was performed with patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis. Researchers concluded that 2,000 mg of turmeric extract was as effective as 800 mg of ibuprofen in reducing symptoms of pain and inflammation.
All drugs cause side effects, and anti-inflammatory drugs are among the most dangerous with regard to liver function, so the implication of obtaining all the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric without the risk of liver damage is absolutely phenomenal.
Health Benefits of Turmeric for Depression
Antidepressants are reported to cause 700,000 adverse drug reactions every year and result in 40,000 deaths.
The theory that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression has never been substantiated. While you can see cancer under a microscope and detect infection in the blood, there is no objective test that has ever shown something biochemically wrong in a depressed person.
More recent research has prompted mental health authorities to state that depression has nothing to do with serotonin levels at all and that current treatment protocols will only alter the symptoms of depression rather than correct the cause.
Aside from natural mood enhancers like exercise, Vitamin D, and Omega-3s, Curcumin has shown remarkable promise in positively affecting emotional and psychological well-being.
A recent study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research has confirmed, in the first-ever randomized, controlled clinical trial, that curcumin “is an effective herb used to treat MDD or Major Depressive Disorder. It's also safe because it won't cause psychosis.”
Another study published in 2011 found that Curcumin compared favorably to Prozac in reducing depressive behavior in an animal model.
Health Benefits of Turmeric for Diabetes
We’ve spent a great deal of time studying type 2 diabetes and other insulin-related health issues. Anyone wanting to learn how to prevent or reverse such problems should download our free eBook here.
- However, in this particular gold-standard study (randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled) published in the Journal of the American Diabetes Association, scientists reported that Curcumin was effective in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes in 100% of test subjects. All patients had met the criteria for a “pre-diabetes” diagnosis, and NONE progressed to type 2 diabetes after 9 months of treatment with Curcumin. The curcumin group also showed improved beta-cell function when compared with the placebo group.
- This study also showed Curcumin lowered blood sugar because of its effects on the liver. Researchers reported Curcumin to be 500 – 100,000 times more effective than Metformin (a popular diabetes drug) in increasing glucose uptake and suppressing sugar production by the liver.
According to these two studies, considering that nearly one-third of Americans are either diabetic or pre-diabetic, individuals should certainly consider alternatives like curcumin extracts for diabetes prevention.
Health Benefits of Turmeric for Arthritis
There are several different types of arthritis, none of which are fun to live with. Regrettably, the only medical solution is to control arthritis symptoms with powerful steroids, dangerous pain relievers, and often minimally effective anti-inflammatories.
Of course, Curcumin doesn’t care which form of arthritis you have. It has been shown to be effective regardless:
- This pilot study performed on patients with rheumatoid arthritis was split into three groups. While all three treatments made progress, the curcumin-only group demonstrated the highest percentage of improvement across all measurement scores. The researchers noted, “Curcumin treatment was found safe and didn't cause any side effects. Our study provides the initial evidence of safety and superiority of curcuma treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. We highlight the need for further studies to validate this finding in patients with rheumatic diseases and other arthritic disorders.”
- This study on Curcumin and osteoarthritis reported better scores and less pain in the group treated with Curcumin but also resulted in a significant reduction in the need for mainstream anti-inflammatories.
There certainly seems to be no end to the health benefits of turmeric. There were many more studies I could have discussed showing the promise of Curcumin for dozens of other diseases, but suffice it to say that adding turmeric to our diets could potentially provide endless advantages in human health.
Getting Turmeric Health Benefits in Everyday Life
Since my investigation, I’ve begun incorporating turmeric into my diet regularly. Everyone can use it in pretty much any recipe or on any food that needs flavor or spice.
You can sprinkle turmeric on meat and vegetables or add it to sauces, omelets, smoothies, or juices. You can even make tea out of it.
Turmeric can be bought in bulk fairly inexpensively, and there are also curcumin supplements for those with health problems who want a concentrated dosage.
Jennifer West is a health and wellness expert who provides information backed by science to help people live a healthier lifestyle. Her master's degree in nutrition science gives her an edge when writing about health, diet, and nutrition.