Turmeric is a type of spice that is claimed to help with a variety of conditions, including depression, heartburn, and cancer. It contains several compounds that may stimulate the immune system, have anti-inflammatory effects, and help prevent blood clots. Although it is a "natural" product, turmeric may cause side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea. Make sure to discuss any safety concerns with your healthcare provider before using it medicinally.
What Is Turmeric?Turmeric is a spice and coloring agent used in curry powder. There has been much interest in using it to treat or prevent a number of different medical conditions, such as depression, heartburn, and cancer. There are many other reported uses as well, some of which are more valid than others.
(Click Benefits of Turmeric for more information on what it is used for.)
How Does Turmeric Work?It is not known exactly how turmeric works, as there are several compounds in it that may have medicinal properties. These compounds may have several different effects in the human body, such as:
- Angiogenesis inhibition -- Compounds in turmeric may inhibit the growth of new blood vessels (a process known as angiogenesis). This property may be useful for preventing or treating cancer, but could cause problems in the treatment of heart disease.
- Anti-inflammatory -- Compounds in turmeric seems to inhibit several different inflammatory substances and enzymes. This may potentially be helpful for a number of conditions, such as arthritis or heart disease.
- Blood clotting -- There is some evidence that compounds in turmeric may help prevent blood platelets from sticking together (a process known as platelet aggregation), an important step in the formation of blood clots.
There is also some evidence that it may have antioxidant effects and may also stimulate the immune system.