Society is finally starting to realize that medication isn’t the only option for treating any number of conditions. There are substances that can be consumed, whether in food or supplement form, that are 100 percent natural, non-addictive, non-narcotic and have no side effects.
Curcumin is a prime example.
Curcumin is a chemical found in the bright yellow pigment of turmeric, which is part of the ginger family and made from the Curcuma longa plant. Curcumin is the most active ingredient in turmeric, which is also the main spice in curry.
In Indian culture, curcumin has been recognized as a healing agent for centuries and is part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine. I use curcumin as an anti-inflammatory herbal supplement in clinical practice every day.
Inflammation plays a major role in virtually every chronic illness, from heart disease and arthritis to cancer and Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, most people treat inflammation with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. All of these drugs are sold under well-known brand names.
The problem is, these drugs are often abused and can have serious side effects. In fact, a study by the American Gastroenterological Association found that 43 percent of adults over 30 suffering from chronic pain have knowingly taken more than the recommended dosage. The side effects of many of these medications range from stomach pain and dizziness to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Curcumin is used not as a drug, but as a dietary supplement that can help fight inflammation. Drugs don’t cure chronic disease and neither does curcumin. However, curcumin can help to reduce inflammation and prevent illness when combined with a healthy, plant-based diet and personalized exercise program.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, studies have linked curcumin to increased levels of the brain hormone BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This can lead to improved brain function, a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and alleviation of depression symptoms. Research also suggests that curcumin can improve the function of the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
When taken at the recommended doses, curcumin supplements are very safe. However, as with any supplementation program, it’s important to consult with your doctor first.
Looking at the bigger picture, the most important take away here is that you have options for the treatment of acute and chronic conditions. The medical establishment, and the pharmaceutical companies, have conditioned Americans to look for relief in a bottle of pills.
Relief can only be found by first finding and understanding the root cause of illness. Then, develop an integrated treatment plan that attacks the problem at the source and restores balance throughout the body. Curcumin is just one more tool in the shed that we use to achieve this goal.
That’s health literacy. And that’s how you feel better, function better and live longer.