Super Food: Let’s Talk Turmeric

I have to admit, when I was asked to write a post about turmeric, I had no idea how much it has been studied in terms of helping with everything from arthritis to migraines to Alzheimer’s!

Super Food: Let's Talk Tumeric

Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, is often found in curries and other spicy dishes from India, Asia, and the Middle East. The spice contains a compound called curcumin that has been used by Ayurveda practitioners for centuries to treat a variety of ailments.

Sampling of Studies

In 2012, a study published in AYU, An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda, reported on three Alzheimer’s patients exhibiting irritability, anxiety, and agitation among other symptoms. Findings indicated that behavioral issues had improved significantly after being treated with less than a gram of turmeric daily for a period of three months. The study concluded turmeric, when combined with routine therapy, increased quality of life and improved performance of activities of daily living in patients studied.

Several years ago, ethnobotanist James A. Duke, Ph.D., published a comprehensive summary of over 700 turmeric studies that support the Ayurveda research. This herbal antidote was found to counteract symptoms of Alzheimer’s by blocking formation of beta-amyloid, the sticky protein substance believed to have a hand in cell and tissue loss indicative of an Alzheimer’s brain. In addition, turmeric reduced inflammation of neural tissue associated with the disease.

The Journal of Neuroscience had also previously published a study that supports the AYU findings, calling the alternative treatment promising. Tests conducted on mice suggested that the herb did indeed reduce plaques in the brain.

Please Pass the Turmeric

So the logical question is, how do we get turmeric into our diet? The most obvious way, of course, is to enjoy curry dishes as often as possible. Also consider adding a bit to your smoothie or whipping up some turmeric tea. We found the following recipe on Dr. Andrew Weil’s website. He suggests experimenting with ingredients until you find a pleasing balance of flavors:

Dr. Weil’s Turmeric Tea:

  1. Bring four cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add one teaspoon of ground turmeric and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup. Add honey, ginger, and/or lemon to taste.

Ground turmeric is commonly used, but Weil suggests experimenting with freshly grated turmeric for a little added zing. Supplements are also available in tablet and soft gel form and can typically be found wherever vitamins are purchased.

The Debate on Alternative Treatments

Efficacy of natural treatments is a hot topic, and no matter which side you’re on, this discussion often results in intense debate. As with coconut oil, for everything you read that touts its effectiveness, you’ll likely find something that disputes that claim.

One statistic that bodes well for this herbal treatment is that India has one of the world’s lowest rates of Alzheimer’s. Could that be directly correlated to the country’s high consumption of turmeric? No one knows, but there are ongoing trials studying this very subject, and it’s likely we’ll be hearing more. Until then, always discuss any potential treatments with your physician. Even natural, alternative treatments can cause negative interactions with prescribed medications.

What are your thoughts on herbal or other alternative treatments?  We look forward to hearing your opinions!

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • chelsiahart

    I need to work this into my diet.

  • Cherri

    I’ve been using tumeric capsules daily for the past year for arthritus joint pain and find it relieves some of my pain. I plan to add it to my mom’s diet as she has Alzheimer’s. Maybe it will help spare me in the future from the ravages of this dreadful condition.

    • Ann Napoletan

      Glad to hear it has helped with your joint pain. I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this with your mother. it’s such an awful, awful disease….

  • Anna

    The efficacy of turmeric is greatly increased when it is paired with black pepper. There are several products that combine these two ingredients, such as Nutmeric, and they are really good!

    • Ann Napoletan

      Anna, thanks for the information – that’s great to know.

  • Damo

    Hi Anna
    is there a tablet or capsule that you would recommend that is not full of additives,as an easy way to take turmeric

    • Gail Doyle

      Turmeric used for alzheimers the easiest way to use it would be the quick way.. 1/2 to a tsp daily in a glass of water..4 to 6 ozs of water. If alzheimers is advanced consult your physician on safe does amount.

      • Donisia

        My husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimers, 3 years ago. He was taking coconut oil but it made him put on weight. Would it be more effective taking capsules/tablets as to the ground turmeric in water

        • Naomi

          Taking turmeric in milk is so much better because it will actually dissolve in milk, try it….

  • Paulagaye

    I started using tumeric 2 weeks ago. One teaspoon in juice or water, after one week I noticed the morning ache in my ankles disappeared but more exciting than that was my horrible knotting blurple inflamed varicose veins had settled right down and were 80% better than they had been in 20 years. Also my mind is sharper. I love it, I think it is the miracle spice.

  • Deanna Clark

    Sanjay Gupta yesterday on TV said the low incidences of dementia and alzheimer’s in his home country owed much to the traditional teas and food…he mentioned tumeric, ginger and cinnamon….and in the foods, pepper, too. Imagine avoiding alzheimers AND enjoying such blessed spices!

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