Turmeric is a root spice that is used most commonly in curry powder and which gives curry its bright yellow/orange color. Curcumin is the pigment in turmeric responsible for this color. It is also the part of turmeric which has been most studied, with over 5,000 published medical articles to date, and over 50 clinical trials this century.
The studies and clinical trials are indicating that turmeric/curcumin may play a role in preventing or treating the following:
- lung disease
- brain disease
- cancers, including multiple myeloma, colon and pancreatic
- rheumatoid arthritis
- inflammatory conditions such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease
- and more...
How Much Should You Take?
While you can buy curcumin extract or turmeric capsules at your local health store, why not eat the whole food and save your pennies? Since there are no long-term studies on the use of turmeric in high doses, consider sticking to the culinary dose of about a 1/4 teaspoon a day - this is the average intake in India for hundreds of years.
How To Add Turmeric To Your Meals:
Aside from the most obvious way to get turmeric into your diet, that is by eating curries, consider adding turmeric powder to soups or pasta sauces, or even into a veggie smoothie (I don't recommend adding it to a cacao-banana-blueberry smoothie, however. I tried it. Once.)
Enhancing Absorption of Curcumin:
Adding black pepper along with turmeric, increases the level of curcumin in your blood. Eating turmeric with a source of fat (preferably a healthy, plant-based fat such as nuts, seeds, coconut, avocado) also enhances bioavailability of curcumin.
Contraindications for Turmeric:
Turmeric is a cholecystokinetic agent, which means it causes contraction of the gallbladder. This can be a good thing when you don't have gallstones, but if you do, this action could cause pain.
Too much turmeric may also increase your risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones if you are already susceptible to them, as the spice is high in oxalates. But limiting your daily intake to 1/4tsp a day shouldn't be a problem, even if you are susceptible.
Please note that I've pulled most of this information from Michael Greger MD's recent book: How Not to Die. I highly recommend this book if you want the most up-to-date researched-based information on how nutrition can impact your health.