Health Benefits of
Turmeric or Curcuma longa belongs to the ginger family of plants. Apart from having culinary benefits, turmeric has been used in ancient Indian and Chinese medicine, housing numerous healing properties. Turmeric is a rich source of a chemical called curcumin, responsible for the biological effects of turmeric. (1, 2)
Turmeric for menstrual cramps
Curcumin in turmeric affects the metabolism of arachidonic acid by blocking the activity of the phospholipase enzyme and reducing the production of prostaglandins which are responsible for menstrual cramps. This is particularly beneficial for pain and inflammation in the initial three days of the menstrual cycle. (5)
Turmeric for ear infection
The infection of the middle ear is also called otitis media. Accumulation of mucus in the ear impairs hearing. Curcumin inhibits the expression of mucin glycoprotein to prevent overproduction of mucin and increased fluid in the ear. (6)
Figure 1 The graph demonstrates the effects of administration of curcumin on the inflammatory mediators (TNF-alpha, IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13) as compared to the control group, and the group on individuals suffering from chronic asthma given curcumin and curcumin inhibitors. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470457/
Turmeric for respiratory disorders
Turmeric is used to treat asthma and allergic reactions in the lungs. Curcumin decreases the production of mucus and reduces congestion of the airways with mucus. Curcumin weakens the effect of histamine in mediating allergic reactions. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric neutralize the free radicals and inflammatory mediators produced by the eosinophils. (7) Following graph demonstrates the role of curcumin in reducing inflammatory mediators in chronic asthma. (8)
Turmeric for carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of neuropathy where the nerve is entrapped in the carpal tunnel of the wrist. Analgesic effects of curcumin reduce the prostaglandin synthesis which provides relief from neuropathic pain. (9)
Analgesic effects of turmeric
Turmeric is a natural pain killer and does not have side effects usually observed in NSAID use. Curcumin selectively inhibits cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipoxygenase, and phospholipase A2. This prevents the formation of arachidonic acid and prostaglandins which are the major culprits behind the pain. Since curcumin does not inhibit COX-1, it does not lead to severe side effects. This provides relief from pain and inflammation throughout the body, such as neck pain, back pain, joint pain, etc. (10)
Antioxidant properties of turmeric
The antioxidant properties of turmeric enable it to protect against free radical damage. Free radicals are generated due to exposure of skin to harmful ultraviolet radiations of the sun which may lead to premature aging of the skin. The antioxidant properties of curcumin protect the skin from free radical damage and reduce the visible signs of aging. (11)
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8. Zhu T, Chen Z, Chen G, Wang D, Tang S, Deng H, et al. Curcumin Attenuates Asthmatic Airway Inflammation and Mucus Hypersecretion Involving a PPARγ-Dependent NF-κB Signaling Pathway In Vivo and In Vitro. Mediators Inflamm. 2019;2019:4927430.
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11. Akter J, Hossain MA, Takara K, Islam MZ, Hou DX. Antioxidant activity of different species and varieties of turmeric (Curcuma spp): Isolation of active compounds. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2019;215:9-17.