To truly know the power of spicy turmeric and how it combats ill health, it’s important to understand its role in combating inflammation.
WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
Inflammation is your body’s response to fighting things that trigger your immune system into action in an attempt to heal itself – think such things as infections, injuries, and toxins.
In a nutshell, inflammation is created when your white blood cells are activated to protect you from infections that come from outside your body.
When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system.
Inflammation, or more aptly an ‘inflammation response’, includes such symptoms as swelling, redness or ‘heat’, pain and loss of function. Other symptoms can mimic the flu including fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, muscle stiffness and a loss of appetite.
In some cases, your body's defence system triggers inflammation when there are no invaders to fight off. In these autoimmune diseases, your immune system acts as if regular tissues are infected or somehow unusual, causing damage.
Autoimmune diseases can be debilitating and include Celiac disease, Dermatomyositis, Graves disease, Hashimoto Thyroiditis, Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis and Pernicious Anemia.
SHORT OR LONG-TERM INFLAMMATION
Inflammation can be either short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic). Acute inflammation such as an infection can go away within hours or days. Chronic inflammation can last months or years, even after the first trigger is gone. Conditions linked to chronic inflammation also include Cancer, Heart disease, Diabetes, Asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD and even long-term depression.
Other painful conditions of the joints and musculoskeletal system that may not be related to inflammation include osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, muscular low back pain, and muscular neck pain.
Like many tried and tested natural remedies, turmeric has a well-documented history of medicinal benefits. A member of the ginger family, turmeric is made from the root of a flowering plant grown in Southeast Asia and alongside being used to make flavoursome and gorgeous yellow curries and herbal teas, turmeric is also known for having potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The primary active component of turmeric — and the one that gives the spice its characteristic yellow colour — is curcumin.
Curcumin is recognised and used worldwide in many different forms for multiple potential health benefits thanks to its bio-active compounds. The value of these protective compounds is that they help the body combat the damaging effect of oxidation. Over time, the oxidation process often leads to chronic inflammation and, as a result, lead to disease and age-related conditions.
Curcumin assists the body to suppress inflammation by depleting the neurotransmitter responsible for pain – neuropeptide substance P, (usually called substance P), and thus is an analgesic or pain relieving.
Another active ingredient in turmeric is turmerone. Although less is known about turmerone, studies have shown it triggers cell repair and potentially support the recovery of brain function.
Further, there are certain antioxidants in turmeric that have been shown to protect the liver (hepatoprotective) and may even assist with regenerating damaged liver cells.
Turmeric is also a gentle digestive tonic, and in part stimulates the enzymes within the body that are responsible for flushing toxins from the body. This is very important, because as the master detoxifier, liver health is critical for hormonal balance.
WOMEN AND TURMERIC
Aside from treating inflammatory conditions of the joints, muscles and nerves, Turmeric may also be helpful for those dealing with hormonal & reproductive health conditions such as hormonal issues such as pre-menstrual tension, period pain and endometriosis.
For some women the menstrual cycle brings about an increase in the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines. Turmeric is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that can help reduce the severity of headache and migraine symptoms. Likewise, its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects can help with relieving or reducing pre-menstrual and period pain.
Women with endometriosis may also benefit from supplementing with turmeric. Research has shown that turmeric may be of benefit by acting as a phyto-oestrogen, inhibiting estradiol (E2) production, reducing metalloproteinase action and inhibiting angiogenesis (development of new blood vessels) – all of which contribute to the progression/worsening of the disease.
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