The health benefits of turmeric are dependent on the composition of turmeric, which include the photochemical, chemical, vitamin compositions and the essential oils present in turmeric.
Diarylheptanoids is a group of phytochemicals found in turmeric. They are a number of curcuminoids and the most active of them all is curcumin. Others in this class are dimethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Also found in turmeric are essential oils of which the most active are turmerone, gemacrone, atlantone and zingiberene.
Curcumin, the major active ingredient in Turmeric has a wide range of medicinal activities and it is composed of phytochemicals, mineral/vitamins and dietary fiber.
Minerals in curcumin are magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, manganese, calcium, phosphorus and selenium. The following vitamins are included in Turmeric, vitamins C, E, K, B6 and folate. Turmeric is a very good source of dietary fiber and fatty acids are w-fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid.
Curcumin possesses anticancer properties along with anti-inflammatory, anti-Alzheimer’s and anti-tumour potentials. It also has hepatoprotective, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, anti-rheumatic, anti-diabetic, hypoglycemic and analgesic activities.
The essential oils in curcumin are ar-turmerone, alpha-turmerone and beta-turmerone and they are biologically active constituents. These essential oils are endowed with anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidative potentials. The curcuminoids and the volatile essential oils are responsible for the health benefits of turmeric.
Uses of turmeric in herbal medicine
Turmeric, like we know has been used for more than 4000 years in the Indian Ayurvedic medicine. There has also been extensive use of it in the Chinese traditional medicine and in parts of Asia.
Much research has been conducted in these areas and we owe the knowledge that we have today to the people of these regions, especially the Indians. The use of turmeric in the Western world and parts of Africa has been in the last hundred years, which time herbal medicine spread to these parts of the world.
Turmeric is a very interesting plant, which find its uses in the colouring, flavouring, cosmetic and medicinal/pharmaceutical industries. As expected, we are interested only in its medicinal uses. There is hardly any part of the body that you would not find the uses of turmeric. It can be used in the prevention and treatment of the following diseases listed below.
Digestive disorders, reduction of flatulence, menstrual problems, abdominal pain and bloating, dyspeptic pain and peptic ulcer, liver, gall bladder and bladder ailments along with urinary tract infection.
Other conditions are small pox, chicken pox, skin cancer and wound healing, conjunctivitis and uveitis. The digestive organs that turmeric target in the gastrointestinal system include the treatment of adenomatous polyposis in the intestine and in the colon; it is useful for the treatment of inflammatory bowel syndrome.
In the prevention and treatment of all these diseases in the human body, Turmeric utilises its medicinal properties, which we have found to be numerous. For example, we see in the case of the inflammatory diseases, which more often than not, are accompanied by pain, both the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric come into play.
Furthermore, Turmeric, being loaded with antioxidants is highly indicated in those conditions caused by the accumulation of free radicals that lead to extensive damage of cells, tissues and organs by oxidative stress. This damage will further lead to the development of cancer, especially if the DNA becomes damaged.
It is important in Herbal Medicine that the products should be built up in the body for them to be effective in the management of these different conditions in the body.
In fact, the use of herbal products should be a new life style for our bodies to also become used to the new environment of the herbal product.
Turmeric like most of such herbal products should be added to different meals as the ground powder or added to water or beverages. Turmeric leaves can be dried, ground to powder and infused in water. The final product can be drunk as tea. Regular and continuous consumption of turmeric is encouraged for it to be effective.