This is the first of a series of articles that will focus on giving brief, accurate, and easy to follow explanations and data on popular adaptogenic herbs. On that note, on to our first highlight!
Turmeric is a nutritious and commonly eaten root ranging from bright yellow to deep orange in color. Studies have observed anti-inflammatory properties which may help with pain relief and other minor inflammatory stressors. It may also help with improving circulation.
History and Culture
Curcuma Longa, commonly called Turmeric, is a root that is very commonly used in cooking. Native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, it was widely used for cooking and as a coloring agent. The root, along with other parts of the plant, are also part of Ayurvedic medicine, and were historically used to treat various illnesses, ranging from general health tonics to antiseptics to treat wounds. It is from these Ayurvedic practices and results that had been observed for centuries that scientists in modern times began to look into the plant closer to determine Turmeric’s medical benefits. Today, it is still used primarily in cooking, and can be commonly found in your local spice aisle in powdered form. There is ongoing research towards the properties of Turmeric and especially in its effectiveness in treating certain inflammatory diseases.
The root of Turmeric itself is actually highly nutritious, being a good source of fiber, phytosterols, and essential nutrients, such as vitamin C and Manganese, with only 7 grams of the powder containing 26% of the daily value of the latter. This makes it a useful addition for those being mindful of having a healthy diet, as well as a useful dietary supplement, especially if mixed with other nutritious vegetable or fruit powders for those with a busy or active lifestyle. This root is also very tasty and refreshing, leaning towards a flavor profile similar to that of ginger’s, making it a nice addition to both supplemental powder mixes or any main meal you might make at home. The whole root freshly cut goes great with leafy salads and other refreshing vegetables, and the acids present help bind and absorb iron in greens that are normally harder to metabolize.
Effects on Inflammation
The main chemical in Turmeric believed to be beneficial and contain medical properties, along with being the most studied currently, is called Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), although other elements in Turmeric are under study as well. Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties  similar in strength to ibuprofen and other commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs. It is also being studied for its shown potential in alleviating joint pain in people suffering from osteoarthritis by relieving joint inflammation by binding the specific sites which normally send biosignals triggering inflammation, thus blocking the signal. Curcumin is found most concentrated in the rhizomes of the Turmeric plant, rather than the commonly eaten root - however, there are other biosimilar curcuminoids found in the root that may also have beneficial medical properties, although more research is still needed on these other novel curcuminoids. You can find more detailed and in-depth research information on the anti-inflammatory properties of Curcumin and how they work in our Adaptogens 101 article. If you're interested in incorporating turmeric into your daily praactice, check out our Nurture My Skin blend.
Effects on Circulation
One other benefit commonly seen in research studies but still being reviewed is Curcumin’s potential on blood circulation for healthy vasodilation. A recent trial started in 2015 done by Texas Christian University used a randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind parallel design study to examine the effect of high and low doses of a novel form of curcumin on endothelial function in reportedly healthy young adults with no known risk for cardiovascular disease. The trial was conducted for 56 days, and found a strong correlation between increased flow-mediated dilation and the Curcumin supplementation participants were given:
This resulted in a healthy reduction of blood pressure as a result, and an improved blood flow to increase to the heart as well. The researchers also noted that possibly a greater flow-mediated dilation percentage could be achieved if the dosing of the Curcumin was increased to 500mg, although they noted the quality and purity of the Curcumin supplement may be a significant factor, as past research shows high quality and purity result in improved bioavailability as well, reducing the overall dose needed to achieve adaptogenic benefits while reducing the possibility of intestinal irritation commonly associated with very high doses of Curumin (12,000mg+).
As with everything else, too much of a good thing can also be harmful. Fortunately, Turmeric, which is included in our Nurture My Skin blend, is very safe unless you are taking really high doses (which would be difficult to do so in the first place, since this is such a flavorful spice). Generally, long term doses of up to 8 grams of curcuminoids are not seen to cause any notable adverse effects in humans. As mentioned previously, one of the potential benefits seen of Turmeric as well is it that it can increase blood circulation by preventing blood cells from clumping together. This does mean however that it might interact with blood thinners, so if you plan on taking higher amounts of Turmeric than usual, ask your doctor if it’s okay if you do take such medications. Any amounts of Turmeric you would normally use as a seasoning / supplement with food however should be safe in call circumstances, even if you take blood thinners, as the dosing would only be high enough to gain some minor adaptogenic benefits while not being high enough to interfere with any medication.
Adaptogens 101 Article:
1: Peter, K. V. (2008). Underutilized and Underexploited Horticultural Crops, Volume 2. New India Publishing. p. 341. ISBN 9788189422691.
2: Spices, turmeric, ground Nutrition Facts & Calories. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2020, from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/212/2
3:Satoskar RR, Shah SJ, Shenoy SG. Evaluation of anti-inflammatory property of curcumin (diferuloyl methane) in patients with postoperative inflammation. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol. 1986;24(12):651-654. Retrieved May 3, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3546166
4:Chandran B, Goel A. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012;26(11):1719-1725. Retrieved May 3, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407780
5: Oliver, J. M., Stoner, L., Rowlands, D. S., Caldwell, A. R., Sanders, E., Kreutzer, A., . . . Jäger, R. (2016). Novel Form of Curcumin Improves Endothelial Function in Young, Healthy Individuals: A Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Study. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2016, 1-6. doi:10.1155/2016/1089653
Retrieved May 10, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27630772
6: Cheng AL, Hsu CH, Lin JK, et al. Phase I clinical trial of curcumin, a chemopreventive agent, in patients with high-risk or pre-malignant lesions. Anticancer Res. 2001;21(4B):2895-2900. Retrieved May 4, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11712783
7: Shah BH, Nawaz Z, Pertani SA, et al. Inhibitory effect of curcumin, a food spice from turmeric, on platelet-activating factor- and arachidonic acid-mediated platelet aggregation through inhibition of thromboxane formation and Ca2+ signaling. Biochem Pharmacol. 1999;58(7):1167-1172. Retrieved May 4, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10484074
Further recommended reading:
Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute: