A look at the miracle properties of turmeric

Turmeric, a plant related to ginger, is grown in many Asian countries, as well as other tropical areas and is often touted for its medicinal properties in providing pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits.

The plant has been thrown more into the spotlight, as some doctors at Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) are turning to the turmeric tea to help with the treatment of COVID-19.

The hospital has entered a partnership with Shavuot International Holding Company Limited and its distributor, Derrimon Trading Company Limited, to receive 10 cases of tea every week for three months. The tea, produced here in Jamaica, is already being used as a form of treatment to assist patients at KPH with COVID-19.

The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) reports that turmeric, a plant in the ginger family, is native to Southeast Asia and is grown commercially in that region, primarily in India. Its rhizome (underground stem) is used as a culinary spice and traditional medicine.

According to the NCCIH, historically, turmeric was used in Ayurveda and other traditional Indian medical systems, as well as Eastern Asian medical systems such as traditional Chinese medicine. In India, it was traditionally used for disorders of the skin, upper respiratory tract, joints, and digestive system. Today, turmeric is promoted as a dietary supplement for a variety of conditions, including arthritis, digestive disorders, respiratory infections, allergies, liver disease, depression, and many others.

Further, turmeric is a common spice and a major ingredient in curry powder. Curcumin is a major component of turmeric, and the activities of turmeric are commonly attributed to curcuminoids (curcumin and closely related substances). Curcumin gives turmeric its yellow colour.

Turmeric dietary supplements are made from the dried rhizome and typically contain a mixture of curcuminoids. Turmeric is also made into a paste for skin conditions.

According to Mayo Clinic, turmeric is a major ingredient in curry powders — common in many Indian and Asian dishes — and is used as a colouring for foods, fabrics and cosmetics.

The underground portions of the plant can be dried and made into capsules, tablets, extracts, powders or teas, or they may be made into a paste to apply to the skin.

Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential treatment for a number of health conditions, including reduced pain and increased ease of movement in people with osteoarthritis.

According to Mayo Clinic, one study found that taking turmeric extract three times daily was comparable to taking a 1,200-milligram dose of ibuprofen daily. However, more research is necessary to confirm these effects.

Other research suggests that curcumin may reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In addition, it may lessen some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as joint swelling and morning stiffness. Other areas of investigation include curcumin’s effect on Crohn’s disease, certain cancers, depression, diabetes, joint pain and irritable bowel syndrome.

Mayo Clinic adds that when taken by mouth or applied to the skin, turmeric — and the curcumin it contains — appears to be generally safe when limited to less than eight grams a day.

Subsequently, the credible health information site said different amounts often are recommended depending on the health condition being addressed, and higher doses have been used for limited periods of time. High doses or long-term use may cause gastrointestinal upset for some people.

Further, Mayo Clinic advised individuals with gallbladder disease to consult their doctors before taking turmeric, as it may worsen the condition. Consultations with doctors must also be done if individuals take an anti-clotting medication or chemotherapy, as the supplement may interact with medication.

The partnership between Shavuot International, Derrimon Trading and KPH is set to launch tomorrow.

Joel Harris, marketing director, Shavuot International; Stewart Jacobs, commercial manager, Derrimon Trading Co Limited; Dr Natalie Whylie, senior medical officer, KPH; Dr Nicholson-Spence; and Dr Stephanie Reid, chairman, hospital management committee, KPH; will make remarks at the ceremony.

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