Things You Didn’t Know About Turmeric

If you have ever eaten Indian food, I am sure you have encountered this colorful herb in your food. This herb is an extremely colorful root, and if you get it on your fingers, you will have an orange pigment stuck to your skin for days! Traditionally, besides using Turmeric in various cuisines in Asia, Turmeric has also been used as a coloring agent, due to its strong color.

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In my practice I have commonly used turmeric to treat chronic ailments, particularly related to inflammatory conditions. Turmeric has lately undergone a lot of research, especially the healing constituent called curcumin, plus a range of healing antioxidants and nutrients.

Research has shown that Curcumin has a potent anti-inflammatory quality. Recent use to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis have shown remarkable effects, when used consequently over time. Also, I have seen great improvement on pulmonary inflammatory conditions upon taking turmeric for a period of time. In fact, in contrast to the NSAIDs (such as Ibuprofen), while Curcumin doesn’t usually have as swift effect, the long term effect has proven as good (or in some cases even greater).

I would argue that the main effect of Turmeric is on the gut lining. We now know that between 70-80 percent of the immune system is located here in the gastrointestinal tract. Upon ingesting Turmeric, the anti-inflammatory qualities will therefore have a direct effect on lowering inflammation related to the gut lining. I would therefore advice those of you suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive discomforts, to give Turmeric a shot.

Speaking of inflammation, I should also mention neurological inflammation. Recent evidence has linked the most common cause of dementia called Alzheimer’s Disease with the development of neurological inflammation. Due to Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory qualities, it has promising evidence in the treatment of dementia, and other neurological inflammatory conditions.

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One main biological effect of Curcumin is how it mops up free radicals. These free radicals are created when we are exposed to chemical irritants, heavy metals, bacterial or viral infections to name a few. When these free radicals are gathered, they can cause havoc in the surrounding tissue. Therefore, supplementation of Turmeric in the diet can prove to be an important preventative measure in making sure you stay healthier, and have less free radicals roaming around in the body. This also explains why Turmeric is known to have a healing effect on the liver.

I would advise to first heat up turmeric before consuming it. This potentiates the effect of this herb. Also, there is evidence that show the importance of adding other herbs to turmeric, to have a symbiotic effect, and therefore a greater healing effect on the body. Adding piperine (from pepper) or tea (green/black) have shown a better absorption of the healing constituent Curcumin in the gut.

There are several ways you can ingest Turmeric. The most common turmeric extract have a 95% potency. You could also ingest Turmeric (Curcumin) capsules as a supplement. The clue nonetheless is to use Turmeric on a regular basis for its health rewarding effects.

One way to ingest turmeric is to have what in Ayurveda is called “Golden Milk”. We in the west have adopted another name, notably “Turmeric Latte”. So, a daily intake of Turmeric can do you a lot of good, both as a preventative measure, and also if you want to heal any inflammatory conditions. So Cheers!

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What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

It is estimated that about 20% of the population have symptoms associated with irritable blowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel syndrome is not accounted to be a disease, but rather a disturbance in the normal intestinal function.

Patients with irritable bowel syndrome usually suffer from a range of stomach related ailments. Even so, conventional investigations can’t find a specific reason for their suffering. That means that even though they have real symptoms, extensive investigations will not find any abnormalities. In colonoscopy there may be seen an irritated mucosal lining, but no real damage that can explain the patients suffering.

Because conventional investigations can’t find any abnormalities, patients are often told that there is nothing they can do about their suffering. They may be told that the reason for their ailments are psychological, which can often be very frustrating.

Symptoms that are often associated with irritable bowel syndrome include stomach pain, gas/flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, slimy feces. The gastrointestinal discomfort often come after intake of food, or in accordance with stress. It is also very common for irritable bowel syndrome patients to have psychological problems such as anxiety and depression (often as a bi-effect of longterm ailments), as well as other problems such as tiredness and joint pains. The symptoms can vary from mild to so severe that they influence the patients’ quality of life.

Irritable bowel syndrome is different from diagnoses such as Ulcerous Colitis, Chrons, Coeliac Disease, Cholecystitis and other gastrointestinal problems where one can see real physical abnormalities by standard investigations.

Through extensive research and experience in functional medicine we see that complicated and chronic intestinal problems often have a multitude of underlying causes and triggers. Only through an extensive investigation through the functional medicine scope will it be possible to unravel the real reasons why patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome have developed their ailments, and consequently what to do about it. The reasons for irritable bowel syndrome can be about gut flora imbalances, food intolerance, irritation on the gut/mucosal lining due to an irritant, and psychological issues. Irritants such as heavy metal exposure or ingestion of other chemical irritants can be a reason for irritation to the gut lining.

Treatments in functional medicine follows the “5R” Method, not necessarily in this order:

  • Remove:
  • Replace:
  • Reinoculate:
  • Repair:
  • Remain:

This means to remove the irritants (from food or chemicals), allergens and/or dysbiotic flora. Then replace and make sure that there is enough beneficial stomach acid, digestive enzymes, gall and so forth. Then reinoculate with beneficial flora, and repair the mucosal lining and gastric functioning. Here the diet plays a major role, and also correct other imbalances such as a lack of essential vitamins and minerals. Less stress and focus on physical activity also play a major role in repairing and treating the gut. The last step is by far the most important, and that is to maintain a good digestive functioning once it has healed.