It’s the golden powder found in delicious curries and, more recently, lattes. Turmeric may be having its time in the sun right now but it has long been a tool used in natural medicine — particularly when it comes to chronic inflammation.
Help, I’m inflamed!
We’ve all had the painful experience of a sprained ankle or a cut leading to the area becoming red, swollen, hot and sore. This is called acute inflammation and is the result of your immune system rushing to protect your body from any bacteria or viruses. This is part of a normal, healthy inflammatory response and should subside once the injury heals. In some cases, however, inflammation sticks around and becomes chronic.
More than half of all Australians suffer from chronic inflammation and pain. Ongoing inflammation may be a response to repetitive damage that doesn’t heal (like arthritis), but it can also occur in response to toxins, allergens or oxidative stress — causing tissue damage. Chronic inflammation has been associated with developing type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.
Turmeric to the rescue
Many people seek natural alternatives to manage pain and inflammation, with the curry spice turmeric being one of the most exciting options. Turmeric has long been used in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) for the treatment of inflammatory conditions. Scientific research is only recently validating its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Turmeric helps to reduce inflammation in three key ways:
1. Turmeric addresses all stages of inflammation.
The inflammatory process involves several stages, beginning with an initial trigger — such as injury or infection. Your immune system detects this trigger and signals your body to create and release chemicals that cause pain, heat, and swelling. This restricts movement to protect the body during acute inflammation. Turmeric provides anti-inflammatory benefits by acting on each of these stages of inflammation to reduce the chemicals that cause inflammation and pain.
2. Turmeric promotes the resolution of inflammation.
Inflammation is normally a self-limiting process. As the threat of injury or infection passes, your body produces Specialised Pro-Resolving Mediators (SPMs) that tell your immune system to limit, or resolve, the inflammatory process. This reduces pain and encourages the clearance of infection. However, in cases of chronic conditions, your body’s ability to produce these SPMs is reduced — preventing the resolution of inflammation. Unresolved inflammation then becomes chronic, leading to ongoing pain and tissue damage. Turmeric helps resolve inflammation by promoting the production of SPMs.
3. Turmeric halts the vicious cycle of chronic inflammation.
Just as tissue damage can act as an initial trigger for acute inflammation, the damage caused by chronic inflammation can be a trigger for further inflammation, creating a vicious cycle. Turmeric helps break the cycle by reducing the production and release of inflammatory chemicals and promoting inflammation resolution.
What to look for when buying turmeric
Unfortunately, the occasional curry or turmeric latte does not provide enough anti-inflammatory oomph to address inflammation and pain. Instead, a high-quality turmeric supplement is needed to receive the maximum benefit.
It is important to note that not all turmeric supplements are created equal. When looking for a quality supplement, consider Curcuma Active available at Mullen Health.
Curcumin is the active component of the rhizome of Turmeric. This is a concentrated extract which is highly bioavailable, meaning you get the benefit of this powerful anti-inflammatory herb quickly when you need it. It’s up to 29 times more absorbable than other supplements on the market.
Tumeric reduces inflammation at all stages — from reducing the release of inflammatory chemicals to ending the vicious cycle of chronic inflammation. Speak with your Naturopath today to find out if turmeric is the right fit for you.