Many of us, including myself, have fallen in love with the newest girl on the block- the Turmeric. And yes, maybe we do have every right to be ecstatic about this wonderful herb with all its popularised anti-inflammatory properties. It doesn’t end there; turmeric is also glorified as a well-known anti-oxidant with over-reaching claims in cure of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. Who will hear that and not fall in love with this wonder-working herb? As a background check, turmeric is a popular spice in the Indian and Chinese cuisine. It is also an important herb, going deep down into the traditional medical practices of these nations. The Indians and Chinese are first-hand testimonials to the benefits of this herb. Why then do we have a different story today? The inability of the newer generations to enjoy the proposed health benefits of the miracle-spice may well lie in the wrong use of turmeric. On the surface, turmeric may not be the one-shoe-fits-it-all, all-curing, miracle-spice as many of us have dubbed it. Without any doubts, the primary and active ingredient in the spice remains curcumin, an ingredient with a lot of promises. Nevertheless, the curcumin in turmeric remains mostly unavailable for human use, especially through ingestion. Through several recent scientific pieces of research, curcumin has been shown to have low bio-availability in human despite the successes of in-vitro and animal studies. Mildly phrased, curcumin can pass through the human digestive system without undergoing any change, making it unavailable for the cells that need it. As such, it comes into the body with a lot of hopes and promises and leaves it with all its goodies untapped. With that said, all hope isn’t lost with turmeric. Don’t discard that jar of ground turmeric or fresh roots of the spice just yet. According to Wendy Bazilian, a dietician, it’s possible to get more use from the herb when it is used in combination with other spices, herbs, and food than as a stand-alone nutritional source. It is known as synergism. Therefore, here are some ways in which you may be wrongly using your turmeric.
• Taking large quantity: Consuming large proportions of the herb not only predisposes you to some conditions such as acid reflux and hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), excessive consumption does nothing to increase its bioavailability.
• Consuming it alone: I can’t stand the taste when eating this alone. If you like doing this in hopes of getting more from the herb, you may be doing it all wrong. Turmeric has more benefits, due to synergism when taken with other spices or herbs. The black pepper has been shown to help increase the absorption of turmeric in the body due to piperin, a main constituent of the spice. If you want more from this herb, consider taking it with black pepper.
• Ingestion: Generally, consuming turmeric via the mouth is shown to be less effective than using it in a topical application (applying it on the skin). Nonetheless, topical application has its disadvantages, including yellow colouration of the skin surface as a result of the intense colouration of the spice. So, next time you lay your hands on turmeric, think about these points to maximise its benefits.