Spices not only make our food tastier, but can also have health benefits. One such spice is turmeric, a plant domestic to the Indian subcontinent. Over the course of many years, many studies have been performed and proved that turmeric, or, rather, curcuma, the substance in turmeric, provides many health benefits, and is most commonly noted to reduce inflammation. But how does it do it?
How Does Turmeric Work?
Like we said, turmeric reduces inflammation thanks to curcumin. Curcumin targets certain enzymes (30 in total) and proteins that reduce inflammation.
More closely, curcumin actually inhibits the tumor necrosis alpha and nuclear factor kappa B, which are proteins responsible for inflammation mediation, which helps reduce the swelling.
As for the enzymes, LOX and COX are two that directly cause inflammation. Most painkillers usually target COX, but not LOX, which is why they’re only partly effective most of the time. Curcumin, on the other hand, inhibits both of these enzymes, making it a more effective cure for inflammation.
Also, curcumin does a very good job of reducing the levels of inflammatory cytokinesis. However, curcumin is not the only substance in turmeric that can have a positive effect on inflammation. Turmeric also includes turmerin, elemene, turmerone, furanodiene, biascurone, cyclocucumin, germacrone, calebin A and curdione. Even so, curcumin remains the predominant beneficial substance.
Where Can You Find Turmeric?
Now, how can you get your hands on this spice? Well, you can certainly go to India and farm it, then process it yourself; but I figure that would be too time-consuming. So, here are four most common ways to get your hands on some processed turmeric for inflammation alleviation.
You can find it in any store. Turmeric powder is a very common spice, and you can find it in any supermarket, sitting right there in the spice aisle. Turmeric gives food an earthy, slightly bitter flavor, and is even suggested as a great alternative to salt when cooking.
This one might be a little harder to find, but, in India, it’s a very common thing. Turmeric paste is made using oils or even water (curcumin is insoluble in water) and turmeric powder to create a paste that is applied onto the skin directly. The oil helps the skin absorb curcumin, which has a great effect on all kinds of skin inflammations and even joint pain.
One of the most common ways to get your hands on some turmeric is to eat some Indian curry, most notably, yellow curry. Curry has plenty of spices added to it, and one of the most common is turmeric, which is evident from the dish’s color (turmeric powder is yellow) and the slightly bitter, biting, earthy and pungent taste curry has.
If you’ve ever wondered why mustard is yellow, it’s because of turmeric. Even the most common and unremarkable brands contain turmeric. Now, I’m not saying you should eat mustard on a daily basis, but eating some every now and then might just be the right thing to do.
Naturally, don’t think turmeric is some kind of miracle spice – you should always consult the doctor about any inflammations you might contract, and not start a turmeric-only treatment by yourself.