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Turmeric: Nature's miracle spice

Traditionally known as 'Indian Saffron', Turmeric has been used in cooking for centuries, particularly in curries and other Indian cuisine. It is also used as a fabric dye due to its deep orange-yellow color, and potential to stain.

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S J Broadmeadow
Curcumin. found in Turmeric, has many miraculous health benefits
Curcumin. found in Turmeric, has many miraculous health benefitsPhoto by Scott Olson/Getty Images

But it is the health properties of Turmeric which are a relatively new discovery in the western world, with more and more research being done into the medicinal qualities of the mildly fragranced, gentle-tasting spice.

Prostate Health/Prostate Cancer: When combined with cauliflower, or other certain cruciferous vegetables (sprouts, watercress, broccoli, etc), Turmeric/Curcumin has been scientifically proven to prevent cancer, and even halt cancer in its tracks, preventing it from spreading. Turmeric and onions have been studied for their potential to stop colon cancer.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Turmeric (extracted from the root of the Curcuma longa plant) has been clinically proven to work as an antioxidant by neutralizing the harmful free-radicals which travel through the body, and cause inflamed joints. When used regularly, Turmeric can be as effective in reducing arthritis pain as well as prescription medications, but without the potentially harsh side-effects.

Childhood Leukemia: Researchers discovered a very low rate of leukemia in Asia, where Turmeric is used frequently in foods. The spice works by acting as an antioxidant, blocking harmful chemicals from cigarette smoke, and processed foods.

Alzheimer's Disease: Research has been done in Asia, where incidents of neurodegenerative diseases are extremely low compared to other parts of the world that do not use Turmeric on a regular basis. Ethnobotanist James A. Duke, Phd, published a comprehensive study on Turmeric in the October, 2007 issue of Alternative & Complementary Therapies.
Duke found more than 50 studies on turmeric's effects in addressing Alzheimer's disease. The reports indicate that extracts of turmeric contain a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function in Alzheimer's disease.

Breast Cancer: Curcumin (an active ingredient in Turmeric) has been shown to kill cancer cells in laboratories, and prevent more from growing. A 2007 American study that combined curcumin with chemotherapy to treat bowel cancer cells in a laboratory showed that the combined treatment killed more cancer cells than the chemotherapy alone. A 2007 American study in mice seemed to show that Curcumin helped to stop the spread of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body.

Painkiller: A natural painkiller, Turmeric can be taken as supplements, in cooking, and in infused into a tea to bring pain relief which has been shown to be as effective as most OTC painkillers.

Click HERE to read about the recommended daily dosage/consumption of Turmeric/Curcumin.