Tumeric, the popular spice often found in Eastern foods, has been shown to be a potent antioxidant, helping minimize inflammation and muscle soreness while also increasing the body's ability to recover.
Other names for Tumeric
Curcumma longa, curcumin
Where to find Tumeric
Turmeric is a spice used alone as seasoning and in curry and some mustards.
Why athletes use Tumeric
Due to tumeric's potential to fight free radicals and reduce inflammation, athletes may find it helpful for injury recovery and to relieve the pain of overtraining.
- Reduce inflammation to increase muscle recovery and lessen muscle soreness
Ways that Tumeric can enhance Longevity:
- As a potent antioxidant, fight free radicals and boost immunity
- Thin the blood, improve circulation, and lower cholesterol to enhance heart health
Signs of Tumeric deficiency
No deficiency conditions are known to exist.
Potential uses for Tumeric
Research indicates that Tumeric may be useful in the treatment of:
More about Tumeric
One of the key ingredients in many curries, turmeric is the distinctive flavor and yellow color in many Eastern foods. Long before refrigeration, curry powders and other spices including turmeric were used to help preserve food, most likely because of their actions as antioxidants. Turmeric has been used for centuries, often in Ayurvedic medicine, as a treatment for numerous ailments, such as jaundice, bruises, chest pain, poor vision, arthritis pains, coughs, etc.
What does it do?
The active ingredient in turmeric is called "curcumin," which has been shown to be a potent antioxidant (comparable to Vitamins C and E). Some experts report that curcumin has been particularly helpful for fighting the free-radical damage inflicted by cigarette smoke.
As well, research has shown curcumin may lower histamine levels. That's important to active folks because this may help reduce inflammation and increase recovery while lessening muscle soreness. However, curcumin has also been shown to increase the natural production of cortisone in the body, which, while helpful for those healing from injuries, may lead, at least theoretically, to protein catabolism (muscle wasting) with long-term use.
Curcumin has also been shown to help thin the blood and improve circulation, along with lowering cholesterol, making it potentially terrific for supporting heart health. And its antioxidant effects have been shown in some preliminary research to inhibit the activity of certain proteins that may cause breast cancer.
Interestingly for those with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin (1,200 mg per day) was shown in a double-blind study to be as effective as the prescription anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone (300 mg per day). The improvements in the duration of morning stiffness, walking time, and joint stiffness were similar. However, unlike phenylbutazone, there were no adverse effects associated with the use of curcumin.
In addition, turmeric has been shown in research to help protect the liver by detoxification and reduce indigestion because it has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It is well known for its carminative effects (that is, it helps force gas out of the intestines), and it's been shown to inhibit gas formation in animals fed gas-producing foods.
Active people probably should limit long-term use of turmeric, but this tasty spice appears to offer numerous potential benefits of interest for both optimal health and improved recovery.
400 to 600 mg of standardized curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) taken 3 times daily is reportedly beneficial.
A turmeric tincture can also be used — .5 to 1.5 ml per day.
If you decide to supplement with pure turmeric, roughly 8 to 60 grams per day may be required for benefits.
Turmeric is typically divided into three dosages with food.
Synergists of Tumeric
Bromelain, another herbal anti-inflammatory, may help increase the absorption of curcumin.
Essential fatty acids, such as lecithin or fish oils, may also increase absorption.
Toxicity of Tumeric
Turmeric has been shown to be safe even in high amounts. However, curcumin (the active ingredient) has been shown to possibly lead to ulcers in rats at levels over 100 mg per kilogram of bodyweight. (An average 180-lb man would have to eat over 8 grams of pure curcumin to get that amount.)
Bans and restrictions
- Ammon, H.P., and Wahl, M.A., "Pharmacology of Curcuma Longa," Planta Med 57.1 (1991) : 1-7.
- Deodhar, S.D., et al., "Preliminary Study on Antirheumatic Activity of Curcumin (Diferuloyl Methane)," Indian J Med Res 71 (1980) : 632-4.
- Murray, M., The Healing Power of Herbs (Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1992, 1995) : 327-335.
- Polaska, K., et al., "Effect of Turmeric on Urinary Mutagens in Smokers," Mutagenesis 7 (1992) : 107-9.
- Satoskar, R.R., et al., "Evaluation of Anti-Inflammatory Property of Curcumin (Diferuloyl Methane) in Patients with Postoperative Inflammation," Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol 24.12 (1986) : 651-4.