It is called the golden spice or the Indian saffron, we are talking about turmeric, used and appreciated for centuries. But, perhaps, only in recent years have we really been able to get an idea of how important this spice is. In fact, numerous scientific researches have been dedicated to turmeric and it has emerged that the spice is characterized by anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-obesity, antiviral and antibacterial properties, with some small precautions.
The turmeric problem and how to overcome it
The enthusiasm around turmeric had dropped a bit when it emerged that its active ingredients exceed the stomach barrier with great difficulty, thus making the spice, used alone, not very useful for health. However, subsequent studies have shown that it is possible to increase the availability of the active ingredients of turmeric and allow them to overcome the stomach barrier by associating turmeric with a fat, such as extra virgin olive oil, and with black pepper. So then an excellent salad dressing is given by a teaspoon of turmeric, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a grind of black pepper. Even in the supplements on the market it is increasingly easier to find the combination of turmeric and black pepper. So, once we understand how to maximize the properties of turmeric, we can discuss the results of the most recent scientific research, in order to be able to stay updated on what turmeric can do for our health.
Turmeric, Covid 19 and Long Covid
Inflammation and a high number of circulating pro-inflammatory substances determine the severity of the symptoms caused by the acute Covid 19 infection but also the possibility of developing, even after a few months of being cured, the so-called Long Covid. Long Covid can manifest itself with brain fog, pain in the muscles and joints, fatigue and difficulty in breathing. Therefore, being able to contain the inflammation, preventing it from exploding, becomes essential for treating the disease. Curcumin, which is the most important active ingredient in turmeric, exhibits a powerful anti-inflammatory action. Therefore, several studies have tried to understand if the integration of this substance can be of help. In fact, in patients who had taken curcumin, a reduction in inflammation and in the time required for the resolution of symptoms such as cough, pain, loss of smell was observed (Vahedian Azimi et al, Nutrients, 2022). Even the intake of turmeric, and not just its active ingredient, has been shown to be beneficial in the case of the two main symptoms of Covid, the loss of taste and smell. In this case, a small study showed that turmeric, in combination with black pepper, made it possible to bring about rapid improvements in people who, following covid infection, had temporarily lost taste and smell (Chabot et al, Cureus , 2021).
Turmeric and female health
Studies have shown that the intake of turmeric, always in association with black pepper, has improved the symptoms associated with PMS and dysmenorrhea thanks to the regulation of vitamin D. In fact, low levels of vitamin D are linked to an increased risk of painful menstruation and premenstrual syndrome. Instead, turmeric allowed to increase vitamin D levels and with these to improve PMS and dysmenorrhea (Arabnezhad et al, BMC Complement Med Ther., 2022).
Turmeric against cell degeneration
Numerous studies are underway or have just been concluded with the aim of evaluating the anticancer action of turmeric. And in fact, this spice has proved to be an ally against tumors, acting on various fronts and modifying both the environment, making it less favorable to tumor proliferation, and tumor growth itself. In fact, turmeric has been shown to stimulate apoptosis, that is, the programmed death, of diseased cells, as well as reducing oxidative stress and inflammation (Zoi et al, Biomedicines, 2021).
Turmeric and inflammatory diseases
Turmeric, acting as an anti-inflammatory, has been shown to attenuate colitis and inflammatory bowel diseases in general. Not only that, turmeric also helps in case of arthritis, reducing pain and inflammation of the joints. And that's not all, turmeric, by counteracting inflammation, has also been shown to be beneficial in treating arteriosclerosis. In fact, in arteriosclerosis, inflammation plays a central role in the formation of plaques (Peng et al, Drug Des Devel Ther, 2021).
Many studies have focused on the effects of large amounts of turmeric or curcumin taken in supplement form. If you decide to take turmeric in the form of supplements, it is important to always ask your doctor for advice because, in the long term and in large quantities, as happens in supplements, turmeric could lead to a reduction in iron. Not only that, turmeric is also an anticoagulant and may interfere with some medications used. In general, it is always better to include turmeric in the diet, with the precaution of combining it with extra virgin olive oil and black pepper, and integrating it into a healthy and varied diet, without excess.