Turmeric is a very powerful spice that has been used in Asia for centuries and it is a major part of Sidhha medicine (a system of traditional medicine) which originated in South India.
Turmeric is a herbaceous perennial plant and it is part of the ginger family. The spice is extracted from the roots of the plant.
Many scientific studies have researched the use of turmeric in the treatment of a wide range of human diseases, including asthma, arthritis, cancer, cholesterol, depression, diabetes and indigestion with very impressive results.
There are around 200 different compounds in turmeric but the one of particular interest for science is called curcumin, which is also responsible for giving the spice its intense golden yellow colour.
Recently turmeric was the subject of an experiment on the BBC programme ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor.’
The experiment looked at the effect that eating turmeric has on the human body. The effects were assessed using a novel test developed at University College, London, by Prof Martin Widschwendter and his team.
The findings were exciting in the group of volunteers who mixed turmeric powder into their food. Prof Martin Widschwendter said "there we saw quite substantial changes. It was really exciting, to be honest. We found one particular gene which showed the biggest difference. And what's interesting is that we know this particular gene is involved in three specific diseases: depression, asthma and eczema, and cancer. This is a really striking finding."
Several laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin does in fact have anticancer effects. A 2007 American study that combined curcumin with chemotherapy to treat bowel cancer cells in a laboratory showed that the combined treatment killed more cancer cells than the chemotherapy alone.
Turmeric has the ability to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It particularly effective in treating breast, colon and skin cancer.
In addition to the numerous significant health benefits that turmeric offers it also has numerous benefits for skin and hair.
Turmeric contains many antioxidants so it is very beneficial for ageing skin. It helps to keep the skin looking fresh and improves the elasticity of the skin. A simple paste can be made with turmeric powder and rose water.
Turmeric is extremely beneficial for oily and acne prone skin as it regulates the levels of sebum which are the natural oils produced by sebaceous glands to lubricate skin. The spice also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties which can help to reduce breakouts.
Dandruff and other scalp issues such as psoriasis can be treated by applying a mixture of turmeric and olive oil on your scalp before washing hair. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then wash thoroughly with a natural shampoo.
The beautiful golden colour of turmeric can also be used as a natural hair dye. It will brighten the colour of hair and can be combined with chamomile tea for a colour boost.
With so many benefits offered by this wonderful spice it’s so much more than an addition to your tikka curry. It’s a very special ingredient to include in your kitchen cabinet and in your beauty cabinet too.