You may have already seen this in cafe and restaurant menus, being featured in their dishes and drinks -- “ the golden spice”. An ancient spice derived from the rhizome of the ginger family and contains a powerful compound called curcumin.
Turmeric, the neon yellow-orange powder used as one of the main components in Asian culinary for thousands of years now has been proclaimed to be a health booster. And, has received great interest not only in the culinary world but also in the medical field because of its wonderful health effects.
But, what do the studies really say about this highly-valued spice? Also, will its potency be affected if taken in other forms?
What do the studies say about the benefits of turmeric?
Turmeric has long been used in India for its distinct peppery flavor and was known as a healing food in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine. It was used to treat various medical conditions such as respiratory disorders or topically applied to soothe, heal, or disinfect skin abrasions or burns.
The interest in the spice’s health benefits started to have extensive publicity after a study conducted in 2006 which involved older Singaporeans, found that those who had consumed more curry-based food had less decline in their cognition. That research than had been led to the properties of the curry which might be causing the effect- subsequently, the interest increased in the properties of turmeric.
In the study, researchers found out that the main active compound of turmeric which provides the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits is called curcumin.
Since inflammation has been associated with different chronic diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer’s and cardiac diseases, arthritis and joint pains, and high cholesterol levels, it has been argued that curcumin could help lessen the risk of having those or even just manage it.
Is turmeric a brain food and mood booster?
In an experiment conducted by Professor Andrew Scholey, Centre for Human Psychopharmacology Director, in Swinburne University, posits that curcumin may improve elasticity or stiffness of cells that line blood vessels, also known as endothelial function.
"If your vessels are a bit more elastic then you have better blood flow to all organs, including the brain. The better your blood flow to the brain is, the better your cognitive function is likely to be. We figure that's one aspect," Professor Scholey said.
Another research about curcumin’s benefits centered on it potential to reduce beta-amyloid and plaques which buildup results to Alzheimer’s disease, and prevent vascular dementia.
With its known ability to reduce inflammation, it has also been linked to boosting regeneration of brain stem cells by increasing 80% of neural stem cell growth which is responsible for self-repairing neurodegenerative damages causing Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and stroke.
What is the recommended daily serving?
There’s really no definite answer as to how much turmeric or curcumin should be taken in a day.
However, research indicates that 500-2000 mg of turmeric per day may be sufficient. More research is needed.
Be always guided that the fundamental bioactive compound responsible for all stated benefits is curcumin. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the recommended daily allowance of curcumin is 1200 to 2400 milligrams per day, which you can get from 3 to 4.5 teaspoons of turmeric. Other sources say different things.