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Health Blog

Herbal spotlight of the Week-Turmeric

        Today I want to talk about turmeric. Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory (1), ant-tumor (2), and anti-oxidant properties. The active ingredient, curcumin, has been extracted and studied for its cancer and chronic inflammation fighting abilities. It also helps to reduce cholesterol, reduces blood sugar in diabetics, relieves arthritis pains (3), supports liver function(4), improves digestion, reduces menstrual cramps,  has weight loss properties (5), reduces inflammation in the colon, improves heart health (6), has antiseptic properties, promotes wound healing, and helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (7)Wow! That is quite the list and all from just one plant!  What a simple and easy way to help support your whole body (8)

     I should also add that organic sources are always best! That way you are receiving just the wonderful benefits of this plant with no pesticides or fillers added.   Some added precautions; curcumin is a potential anticoagulant, if you are taking prescription anticoagulants please check with your doctor before adding turmeric to your diet. Excess consumption of turmeric, in some people, can cause nausea and diarrhea. Use caution if you have gall bladder issues as it has been known to stimulate bile production and always use caution when pregnant with any herbs or spices. Here are some ways you can add turmeric into your day to utilize this herb for its numerous health benefits:
1)      You can eat it! Add it to your foods every day. It’s good with rice, eggs, lentils; you can even put some in your smoothie. Be creative and find ways to incorporate this healthy spice into your life. Aim for at least 1 teaspoon full twice a day to receive the benefits.
2)      Or take turmeric as a supplement every day. Some studies suggest 350-400mg 3 times a day for things like Rheumatoid arthritis. While I have seen no reports of toxicity related to the use of Turmeric, consulting with a doctor and/or doing your own research is always advisable when treating RA or any other aliment with this spice.  
      In my family’s use of this spice we take capsules. I also try to cook with turmeric as much as possible but it’s hard to get enough turmeric into your food even if you really love the taste!  We have some issues of inflammation in this family so we take about 750 mg 2 times a day to help combat those issues. I do notice when I forget to take my turmeric I pretty much ache all over, so I try not to forget! I have celiac disease and mitral valve prolapsed, and my daughter has a periodic fever disorder and POTS. These things tend to wreck havoc on our systems so keeping the inflammation in check is key.
     Another factor I want to touch upon is whole verses standardized.  When utilizing herbal supplements there are two schools of thought on what is the most effective type production process.   Should you use whole herbs or standardized herbs? Whole herbs are just what they sound like, the whole herb, dried and encapsulated. Whole herbs therefore contain all constituents of the plant balanced by the environment that it was grown. A standardized herb contains components of the plant with an extract, in a guaranteed amount, of the active ingredient. This will usually be presented as a percentage. The reason behind this is to ensure you are receiving the exact same amount every time. This is a pharmacological approach to herbs and does have its place in the use of herbal supplements. I believe that if you are treating a specific aliment, such as rheumatoid arthritis, you want to follow the scientific studies that have measured the exact amount of an active compound of a specific herb that has shown to relieve the symptoms of your aliment. I also believe in utilizing whole herbs for health. This to me is the same way that certain foods are healthy for you, and we do not try to isolate what is inside of the carrot that is good for us, but instead just eat the carrot. One herb can positively affect the body in several different ways. We have yet to fully understand the internal chemical interaction of the different components in herbs within the body and how they may have a synergistic effect. I personally believe in utilizing both. I do take standardized herbs (or spices like turmeric) when I am treating a specific issue, and whole herbs when I am focusing on my overall health and the numerous benefits herbs have in that area.

      I hope this information is helpful to you in the journey of being as healthy as you can be.
Please return next week when I will talk about Triphala, another amazing medicinal herb we use in our family.

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