The Golden Root of the Gods
Turmeric is revered around the world for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. What specific compounds gives turmeric these amazing abilities to soothe inflammation and reduce pain? Curcuminoids, natural polyphenols found in the turmeric root. Curcumin is the primary curcuminoid¹ (77% of the curcuminoid content in turmeric is curcumin) present in turmeric and is what gives the rhizome its distinct yellow hue.
What does curcumin do within the body? Curcumin can help with pain and swelling due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It actually inhibits a molecule called NF-kB, a transcription factor that turns on genes related to inflammation. Another mechanism by which curcumin turns down inflammation in the body is it inhibits the COX-2, LOX, and iNOS enzyme, all of which mediate inflammatory processes. It is also a strong antioxidant, it can bind to and neutralize free radicals which will halt oxidation within the body² (oxidation causes aging of the cells!).
How can we increase the bioavailability of curcumin? The idea has been spread through health circles that piperine in black pepper increases the absorbability of turmeric into the body. This is definitely true, but you may be surprised to find out that the mechanisms by which it does this can be harmful to the liver. Black pepper works by slowing down the breakdown of certain compounds in the liver, which increases their lifespan in the bloodstream. This would be great if it could target only beneficial molecules, such as curcumin. But, the way piperine works is by nonspecifically slowing down the livers ability to detoxify certain molecules, basically turning off your body’s innate defense system! This can be dangerous because when the liver can’t function at optimal speed, it increases the toxic load in the bloodstream. For example, if you are taking any pharmaceutical medications, these must be detoxified and broken down by the liver. Piperine extract has been shown³ to slow down this process of detoxification, which would enhance the effect and lifespan of the medication, potentially producing damaging consequences.
A better option to increase bioavailability would be to pair turmeric with a fat such as coconut oil or ghee, in traditional Indian cooking these two ingredients are always used in conjunction with each other (such wisdom!). The reason is that curcumin is a fat-soluble compound, so the fatty acids help you body absorb more of the curcumin than it would have otherwise. The same rule applies for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, & K, you need healthy fat to properly absorb and assimilate these nutrients!
Three of our favorite ways to use turmeric are:
Internally to Decrease Inflammation: As stated above, turmeric has the capability to soothe inflammation within the body due to various mechanistic actions.
For a calming nightcap, try making this Golden Milk Latte before bed. Blend up:
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- a pinch of cardamom
- 1 Tbs grass-fed ghee (Gold Nugget Ghee’s Lavender Vanilla Ghee highly recommended!)
To Promote Healthy Teeth & Gums: If you have any issues with bleeding/inflamed gums, turmeric will be your best friend! When applied directly on the gums, turmeric will reduce the inflammation present which will decrease bleeding, swelling, and pain. Surprisingly, it has also been shown to brighten those pearly whites and does not stain the teeth (although it does stain your toothbrush)! This is why we add organic turmeric to each and every one of our Natural Clay Tooth Powder flavors, the benefits of healthy teeth and gums far outweigh the cosmetic shortcoming of a stained toothbrush.
For Skincare: Turmeric has wonderful benefits for the skin; it can reduce sun spots, acne, and scarring. Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, it also decreases general redness which leads to a brighter, more even skin tone. You can find turmeric in our Aloe Glow Moisturizer, Sacred Beauty Balm, and Clarifying Sugar Coat.