Its benefits have been well studied by Western scientists, who attribute much of its disease-fighting powers to a trio of naturally occurring yellow-orange chemicals called curcuminoids, known simply by the name of curcumin. It is a well-known fact that turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer food, but did you know that it can also protect your heart and fight autoimmune diseases?
An insightful study was conducted by researchers from Niigata University of Pharmacy and Applied Life Sciences in Japan and published in the journal of Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin in 2011. The researchers found that three weeks of supplementation with turmeric compound curcumin significantly improved cardiac health in male rats that had been given an injection to induce an autoimmune disease of the heart (autoimmune myocarditis). The rats supplemented with curcumin also exhibited a reduction in the area of the heart covered by inflammatory lesions in the heart’s weight-to-body-weight ratio.
The suppression of certain key cytokines of the inflammatory cascade, such as, IL-1β, TNF-α, GATA-4 and NF-kB, was deduced as the rationale for curcumin’s cardio protective quality.
Curcumin – as beneficial as aerobic exercise for the heart!
Several studies conducted by researchers at the University of Tsukuba, Japan suggest that turmeric may, in fact, be as beneficial for your heart as aerobic exercise! In a pair of studies published in the journals Artery Research and Nutrition Research in September and October 2012, respectively, the researchers found that women who took a curcumin supplement showed as much improvement in two measured parameters of heart health (vascular endothelial function and arterial compliance) as women assigned to a moderate aerobic exercise training program. An even greater benefit was seen, predictably, in those who took the supplements and engaged in the exercise program as well.
In another study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension in June 2012, the researchers found that a combined exercise and curcumin program significantly slowed down the age-related degeneration of the heart. Turmeric battles autoimmune conditions
In autoimmune diseases, the body turns against its own immune system. These diseases are still poorly understood, and most of them have no known cause or cure. Some of the common autoimmune diseases include type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, myocarditis, thyroiditis, uveitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and myasthenia. An estimated 5 percent of the world’s population suffers from an autoimmune disease according to the American Autoimmune Association Related Diseases Association.
According to a research review published in the journal Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology in 2007, curcumin reduces the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis. As expected, symptomatic relief comes, at least in part, by curcumin’s regulation of inflammatory pathways.
It should be noted that the body absorbs curcumin most effectively when it is in its most bioavailable form. Therefore, the supplements that have bioavailable curcumin are more beneficial than plain turmeric capsules. In addition, the maximum benefit is experienced when these supplements are consumed at a low dose over a long period of time.