Both Asian and Western literature have found that turmeric has many benefits, including anti-inflammation, prevention of cardiovascular disease, prevention of dementia, prevention of cancer, anti-depression, improvement of skin quality, and the like. Especially during the pandemic, improving one’s immunity has become the main act to fend off COVID. Dr. Dawei Guo, a physician at the Fu Yuan Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic in Taiwan, shared how to enhance immunity by consuming turmeric, and the nine groups of people who need turmeric.
Both turmeric and ginger are medicinal and edible plants. How can we tell the difference between the two? First of all, ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. It is a commonly used condiment in the home. Apart from its favorite usage as a spice, it also removes fishy smells, as well as cold. It is a popular product for warming and nourishing the body. Turmeric is a plant belonging to the genus Curcuma longa of the Zingiberaceae family and is the raw material for curry. Turmeric is a natural antioxidant that helps eliminate free radicals in the body. Eating it in moderation has lots of health benefits.
Ginger has a spicy taste, and according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), when used as a medicine, it is useful in regulating the three meridians of the lung, spleen, and stomach. Turmeric is also spicy with a slightly bitter taste. It converges to the liver and spleen meridians. It is often prescribed in TCM to activate blood circulation, relieve pain, flush the meridians, and improve internal gas circulation. It is used against symptoms of pain in joints, in the hands, and during menstruation.
TCM discovered that the human body has a “meridian” system that is responsible for transporting “qi” and “blood” throughout the body. These are the basic substances that constitute the human body and maintain its physiological activities. Qi and blood circulate within the body to maintain the balance and stability of various tissues and organs. When there is an imbalance or deficiency of qi and blood in the body, disease or other complications may occur.
There are 12 main meridians in the human body corresponding to the 12 viscera, which circulate further to the hands, feet, head, and face. If any of the meridians are blocked, the movement of substances will be affected, and the “evil qi” or “disease qi” (various factors that cause diseases) will enter, resulting in all sorts of abnormalities in the body. When the meridian system returns to normal, the disease will eventually be cured.
Turmeric Can Boost Immunity and Improve COVID-19 Symptoms
So far, there are nearly 70,000 research reports on turmeric. A study published in a 2017 edition of the journal Foods confirmed that curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Another research paper published in the journal Nutrients in 2019 showed that curcumin has immunomodulatory effects that can help prevent cancer. Both curcuminoids and related turmeric products have been sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe.
From 2021 to 2022, many academic journals published research results on curcumin’s treatment for COVID-19. In clinical studies, it has been found that curcumin can effectively improve symptoms such as fever, cough, dyspnea, and muscle soreness in confirmed mild and severe patients after treatment with it. It can also maintain the patient’s blood oxygen concentration at a better level.
Curcumin treatment in pulmonary fibrosis cases also significantly reduced hospital stays for diagnosed patients. Related studies have also found that patients treated with curcumin had a lower mortality rate than those who did not use it at all. In addition, patients with taste and smell disorders due to a COVID-19 diagnosis also showed significant improvement in symptoms after treatment with turmeric. Therefore, many researchers suggest that curcumin can be included in the adjuvant treatment plan for diagnosed patients.
9 Types of People Best Suited for Turmeric Treatment
More and more studies have confirmed that turmeric can improve immunity and that it has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative effects. Guo suggested that the following nine types of people are most in need of taking turmeric.
- Students who stay up late to study
- Office workers who work overtime and stay up late
- People with chronic joint inflammation and pain
- Those with high cholesterol, blood pressure, and/or blood sugar
- People who dine out often
- People who need to recover from a hangover
- People who want to increase their metabolism rate
- Those who are overweight
- People with excessive body fat
6 Groups Who Should Avoid Taking Turmeric
Because turmeric has the effect of promoting blood circulation and stimulating gastric mucosal cells, these six groups of people with the following constitutions or situations are not suited to eating turmeric.
- Patients with gastritis, gastric ulcer, and gastric acid reflux
- Patients suffering from diseases such as hepatitis, diabetes, gallstones, abnormal biliary function, calcium oxalate stones, and unstable blood pressure
- Menstruating women, or people who have undergone surgery
- Those with blood coagulation disorders or taking anti-coagulant drugs
- People with iron deficiency anemia
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
Guo suggested that if you have one of these conditions, you must consult a doctor for advice, and you should not replace regular treatment with TCM remedies. If you are not sure about your body’s constitution, consult your doctor.
Turmeric has many benefits, but it should not be overused due to its level of cytotoxicity, despite the level being low. According to World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, curcumin is best used as a food additive, and the daily acceptable intake of curcumin is a maximum of 3 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
How to Increase Curcumin Absorption
The turmeric powder you see in the supermarket is a product obtained by grinding turmeric into powder and then drying it. However, the real value of turmeric lies in the curcumin extracted from turmeric. In general, turmeric powder only contains about 2 percent to 5 percent curcumin, but is not easily absorbed by the body. Guo suggested the following methods to increase the absorption of curcumin.
- Stir-fry with oil to extract its full nutrition. Curcumin and vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble, and frying with oil is conducive to the release of nutrients in turmeric.
- Mix with milk and honey. Use 500 milliliters (17 fluid ounces) of whole milk as the base, 1.5 teaspoons of turmeric powder, 0.5 teaspoon of cinnamon powder, 0.5 teaspoon of honey (or maple syrup), and a little black pepper, which can help with sleep and relieve stress.
- Mix with salt and pepper, ginger, and rice. Combine a little turmeric powder, salt, black pepper granules, a little mushroom powder, and a little soy sauce. Mix all kinds of seasonings with rice, and it’s ready to serve.
- Add piperine to increase the absorption of curcumin. Curcumin is fat-soluble and not easily absorbed by the human body. Take it together with fat or piperine to increase the absorption rate. Studies have found that the piperine in black pepper can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000 percent.
Many studies have pointed out that the final absorption rate of curcumin is quite low. Therefore, Guo suggested that it takes a long time and continuous intake of turmeric to achieve the necessary amount.
Guo emphasized that some people may not fall asleep if they eat turmeric before going to bed. He recommended eating it during the day when the body metabolizes faster.
4 Principles for Choosing Turmeric
How do you choose turmeric powder? Guo recommends the following selection criteria.
- Commercially available products include turmeric powder capsules containing only 1 to 5 percent curcumin. You should choose products with more than 90 percent curcumin, and the content of curcumin should be at least 150 milligrams to have real anti-inflammatory and metabolism-promoting effects.
- Find out whether there are research data to support its efficacy. There are many turmeric products on the market. Because curcumin doesn’t last long in the body, if you want to enhance its absorption, you should choose products with international labels, patents, safety inspections, international certification, clinical data, and the like, to ensure you’re getting genuine and effaceable curcumin.
- Opt for curcumin over turmeric powder.
Since turmeric powder contains only about 2 to 5 percent curcuminoids, it is best to purchase products that contain the active curcumin ingredient.