Is Curcumin a Miracle Herb?

If you regularly peruse the internet for the latest on natural health information, you may begin to think that curcumin, the active part of turmeric, will cure any disease and you will no longer need to take any prescription medications, ever again.

Based on reading many research papers, particularly in the realm of complementary cancer care, I do think curcumin can offer many benefits - in the context of other health-promoting habits - in a variety of conditions. Curcumin's power lies in its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation describes a biochemical process that happens in response to many different influences on physiology. When you cut your finger, get a cold, or feel stressed for long periods of time, the inflammatory process is at work. Inflammation in and of itself is not a bad thing - at the right time and for the right length of time can be life-saving. However, when inflammation becomes chronic and no longer serves the purpose of fixing an injury or problem, it may put you at risk for many different illnesses or diseases. 

So, if curcumin isn't a miracle fix, why eat it or take it? Regularly eating turmeric or taking a curcumin supplement can be a safe way to get the anti-inflammatory benefits of a plant and may reduce your need to take anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) which do have some serious potential side effects, especially when taken long term. However, do not stop taking your medication(s) or start taking a supplement without finding an appropriately trained professional to help you. From finding a reputable curcumin product to recognizing potential drug interactions, you cannot rely on a blogpost for medical advice. I have had many people lessen their chronic pain by using combinations of herbs and vitamins. Their results are even better when healthy food choices and stress management are combined with anti-inflammatory herbs.

Eat More Turmeric

Look for fresh turmeric at your local produce department or Asian grocery store; ideally organic and locally grown if possible. Turmeric can be grated and added to many savory dishes. I usually take fresh turmeric, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and freeze to add to smoothies. Golden milk, a drink combining turmeric with other spices, has become popular as a means to regularly get the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric. When buying the dried powder, look for organic and only buy a little bit at a time. Dried herbs and spices quickly lose their benefits when sitting in the cupboard for long periods of time. Combine turmeric with ginger or other herbs and a healthy fat (coconut oil, olive oil, grassfed butter) to increase absorption. 

Inflammation in and of itself is not a bad thing - at the right time and for the right length of time it can be life-saving.