What is Curcumin?
Who said something that tastes good can't be good for you? Curcumin (Curcuma longa) is the source of the spice Turmeric, and is used in curries and other spicy dishes from India, Asia, and the Middle East. Curcumin is what gives the Curry its characteristic bright yellow color and strong taste. If curry is too spicy for your tummy, then you can still obtain the benefits of Curcumin by taking it as a nutritional supplement in convenient capsule form. Or, if you like the heat, break the capsule open and sprinkle it on your food.
Like many herbal remedies, people first used Curcumin as a food and later discovered that it also had impressive medicinal qualities. Over the centuries, this spice has been used as a pain relieving, anti-inflammatory agent to relieve pain and inflammation in the skin and muscles. It has served as a treatment for jaundice, menstrual difficulties, hematuria, hemorrhage, colic, and flatulence. In modern times, research has focused on Curcumin's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, and antimicrobial properties, and on its use in cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and as a treatment for the liver.
The food we eat has a direct effect on our health, even if that food is something as seemingly insignificant as a spice. Research on families immigrating from India to the United States may reflect the importance of Curcumin in the diet. It is well documented that cancer rates in India are lower than those seen in Western countries. However, studies of Indian immigrants in Western societies indicate that rates of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease and diabetes, increase dramatically after a generation in the adopted country. Change of diet is among the factors that may be responsible for the changing disease rates. In a study conducted by the United States National Cancer Institute, the researchers noted, "Of particular interest for cancer prevention is the role of turmeric (Curcumin), an ingredient in common Indian curry spice.