One of the many supplements that Dr. Oz has been promoting lately is an Ayurvedic herb named tumeric. Curcuma longa, commonly known as turmeric, possesses anti-inflammatory properties and is used in traditional Indian and Chinese medical practices to treat painful inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, injury, and asthma.
While anti-inflammatory drugs, such as hydrocortisone, are used to reduce inflammation, they are often accompanied by adverse side effects such as increased appetite, indigestion, nervousness, and blurred vision. Today, there are dozens of inexpensive anti-inflamatory supplements available at your local vitamin store that possess the same anti-inflammatory properties as their harmful allopathic counterparts.
Researchers assessed previous studies and discovered that "Two [compounds] showing statistically significant anti-inflammatory activity have been obtained from the rhizomes of [turmeric]."
In order to compare the anti-inflammatory properties of these compounds with other anti-inflammatory agents, researchers conducted several studies on arthritic laboratory rats. These rats were treated with either turmeric, hydrocortisone, or phenylbutazone (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).
According to R. Arora and colleagues in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, results of these studies showed that "[turmeric] possesses significant anti-inflammatory properties..." In addition, "The anti-inflammatory actions of [compounds found in turmeric] are comparable to that of hydrocortisone..."
Although many anti-inflammatory drugs are known to have adverse side effects, researchers claimed that, "[turmeric] extract did not show significant toxic effects."
As a condiment, Turmeric is a very interesting yet often misunderstood spice. It may seem exotic to you, but most of us eat more turmeric than we think! This is because it is used as a natural food coloring in many off the shelf food products, especially yellow mustard. Turmeric shines in curries or with similar species like ginger and cardamom as well.
As a bulk herb, (have you checked out our bulk herb room?), turmeric is often suggested as a substitute for the much more expensive saffron (although not by professional chefs) and annatto, because it produces that beautiful golden color associated with saffron-infused recipes. Indeed, turmeric is often added to ground saffron by some unscrupulous manufacturers to increase the profit margin. When substituting turmeric for saffron, be aware that turmeric is much more pungent and should be used sparingly.
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