Health Benefits of Turmeric Tea

Turmeric is a popular spice made from the rhizome or root of the Curcuma longa plant.

Turmeric is native to Southeast Asia and is a member of the Zingiberaceae or ginger family. It has been used as a herbal remedy for thousands of years in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

India grows 78 percent of the global supply of turmeric. In this article, we look at a range of potential health benefits.

Fast facts on turmeric tea:

  • The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin.
  • Curcumin gives turmeric its characteristic yellow color.
  • Curcumin is proven to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.

What is turmeric tea?

turmeric tea
The most effective way to consume turmeric may be as a tea.

Curcumin has low bioavailability, which means the body has a hard time accessing and absorbing the compound. For this reason, turmeric supplements, with their guaranteed high concentrations of curcumin, are popular.

Turmeric tea, brewed using grated turmeric root or pure powder, is considered one of the most effective ways to consume the spice.

There is no specific recommended daily intake of turmeric. Based on available research, the suggested daily intake depends largely on the condition it is being used to treat.

Most research in adults supports the safe use of 400 to 600 milligrams (mg) of pure turmeric powder three times daily, or 1 to 3 grams (g) daily of grated or dried turmeric root. Grating the turmeric yourself is the best way to ensure a pure product.

Nine potential benefits of turmeric tea

Drinking turmeric tea is believed to bring about several benefits, nine of which are described in more detail here.

1. Reduces arthritis symptoms

As an anti-inflammatory, curcumin may help reduce the most prominent symptoms of arthritis.

2017 study found that out of 206 American adults with self-reported rheumatoid arthritis, 63 percent used non-vitamin supplements to manage their symptoms, with turmeric being the most popular product that was taken.

2. Boosts immune function

Curcumin is proven to improve immune function with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.

Curcumin has also been shown to act as an immune modulator, helping regulate immune cell function against cancer.

3. Help reduce cardiovascular complications

Several studies have shown curcumin to have beneficial heart health properties by acting as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

A 2012 study found that taking 4 g per day of curcumin 3 days before and 5 days after coronary artery bypass grafting surgery, reduced the risk of acute myocardial infarction or heart attack by 17 percent.

4. Helps prevent and treat cancer

One of the most clinically established therapeutic properties of curcumin is its anti-cancer action.

As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, curcumin is thought to lower the risk of cells in the body becoming damaged, reducing the risk of cell mutations and cancer.

Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that curcumin has anti-tumor properties, limiting the growth of tumors and spread of cancerous cells.

According to a 2014 medical review, more than 2,000 articles have been published using the keywords “curcumin” and “cancer.” The use of curcumin as a cancer treatment alongside chemotherapy and radiation therapy is currently being investigated.

5. Helps manage irritable bowel syndrome or IBS

Curcumin has long been used in traditional medicines as a treatment for many digestive conditions.

Several studies have found that curcumin may help reduce the pain associated with IBS and improve the quality of life of those people with the condition.

2012 study in rats found that curcumin helped decrease the time it took for food to empty from the stomach to the small intestine, otherwise known as gastric emptying.

6. Prevents and treats Alzheimer’s

Studies have shown that curcumin may help reduce the chances of several neurodegenerative conditions. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers are thought to reduce cellular damage, inflammation, and amyloid deposits or plaques that occur with these conditions.

Curcumin may also be able to slow down or prevent some of the age-associated protein changes linked to neurodegeneration.

7. Protects against liver damage, gallstones, and manages liver conditions

Several studies have shown that curcumin can protect against liver damage. Potential liver and gallbladder benefits of curcumin include increasing production of the digestive fluid bile while also protecting liver cells from damage from bile-associated chemicals.

8. Helps prevent and manage diabetes

Traditional medicines have used turmeric for diabetes for thousands of years. Several studies using animal and human models have shown that curcumin supplementation may have anti-diabetes properties.

9. Helps treat and manage lung conditions

Researchers suspect that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin may help reduce the symptoms of chronic or long-lasting lung conditions.

2017 medical review concluded that although the clinical evidence is limited, curcumin might help treat asthma, pulmonary and cystic fibrosis, lung cancer or injury, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

How to prepare turmeric tea

turmeric powder on a plate
To make a turmeric tea, a person can add ground, grated, or powdered turmeric to boiling water.

Turmeric tea can be prepared from either pure turmeric powder or grated or ground, dried turmeric. Fermented turmeric preparations, commonly sold as tea products, claim to have higher concentrations of biologically available or absorbable curcumin.

The steps to follow for making turmeric tea are:

  • boil 4 cups of water
  • add 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground, grated, or powdered turmeric
  • allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 10 minutes
  • strain the tea into a container and allow it to cool for 5 minutes

Many people put additional ingredients into their turmeric tea to improve the taste or help with its absorption. Common additives include:

  • Honey, to sweeten the tea and give the mixture more anti-microbial properties.
  • Whole milk, cream, almond milk, coconut milk, or 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or ghee (unclarified butter) to help with absorption, as curcumin requires healthy fats to dissolve properly.
  • Black pepper, which contains piperine, a chemical known to help promote curcumin absorption, and that can add a spicy flavor to the tea.
  • Lemon, lime, or ginger, to enhance antioxidant and antimicrobial properties in the mixture and improve taste.
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African Plant Extract Offers New Hope for Alzheimer’s

A plant extract used for centuries in traditional medicine in Nigeria could form the basis of a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at The University of Nottingham have found.

Their study, published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology, has shown that the extract taken from the leaves, stem, and roots of Carpolobia lutea, could help to protect chemical messengers in the brain which play a vital role in functions including memory and learning.

The tree extract could pave the way for new drugs to tackle patient symptoms but without the unwanted side-effects associated with some current treatments.

The study was led by Dr. Wayne Carter in the University’s Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine, based at Royal Derby Hospital. He said: “As a population, we are living longer, and the number of people with dementia is growing at an alarming rate. Our findings suggest that traditional medicines will provide new chemicals able to temper Alzheimer’s disease progression.”

Neurodegenerative diseases represent a huge health burden globally, placing pressure on health services and having a negative impact on the lives of patients and their families.

Researchers and drug companies are racing to discover new treatments for these disorders and have begun looking to plant extracts as a potential source of novel drugs.

In patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and myasthenia gravis, the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, is reduced, leading to problems with memory and attention.

Current drugs – called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors – reduce the normal breakdown of acetylcholine. Extensive research is underway to find new versions of these drugs but with additional beneficial properties.

Carpolobia lutea, known more commonly as cattle stick, is a small shrub or tree found native to Central and West Africa. Herbalists in Nigerian tribes use the essence of the root as an aphrodisiac and the treatment of genitourinary infections, gingivitis, and waist pains.

It has also been reported to possess other anti-inflammatories, anti-arthritic, antimicrobial, antimalarial, and analgesic properties. This could be particularly important in Alzheimer’s disease as there is more evidence emerging that Alzheimer’s patients have inflammation in the brain.

The Nottingham study found that the plant was highly effective in preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine but had other beneficial antioxidant properties in fighting free radicals – unstable atoms that can cause damage to cells and contribute to aging and disease – damage that may be exacerbated in Alzheimer’s disease.

Article: Anti-acetylcholinesterase activity and antioxidant properties of extracts and fractions of Carpolobia lutea, Pharmaceutical Biology, doi: 10.1080/13880209.2017.1339283, published online 19 June 2017.

Can Traditional Chinese Medicine Offer Treatments for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

A new study of classical Chinese medical texts identifies references to age-related memory impairment similar to modern-day Alzheimer’s disease, and to several plant-based ingredients used centuries ago – and still in use today – to treat memory impairment. Experimental studies of five of these traditional Chinese medicines suggest that they have biological activity relevant to Alzheimer’s disease, according to an article in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine website until October 21, 2016.

Charlie Xue, Ph.D., and coauthors from Guangdong Provincial Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, China, and RMIT University, Australia, performed a comprehensive, systematic search of the Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a database of more than 1,000 Chinese medical books dating back to the fourth century.

In the article “Memory Impairment, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease in Classical and Contemporary Traditional Chinese Medicine,” the authors describe specific mentions of signs and symptoms of memory impairment associated with aging and the formulas and ingredients most commonly used to treat these disorders.

“Recent research out of UCLA that was the subject of the JACM editorial in August shined a spotlight on the potential role of natural agents in a whole person protocol for reversing Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Xue and his colleagues have provided an important addition from traditional Chinese medicine to this emerging literature,” says The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Editor-in-Chief John Weeks, Seattle, WA.

Article: Memory Impairment, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease in Classical and Contemporary Traditional Chinese Medicine, May Brian H., Feng Mei, Zhou Iris W., Chang Su-yueh, Lu Shao-chen, Zhang Anthony L., Guo Xin-feng, Lu Chuan-jian, and Xue Charlie C.L., The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, doi:10.1089/acm.2016.0070, published online 27 July 2016.

Middle-Age Memory Decline A Matter of Changing Focus

Research sheds new light on what constitutes healthy aging of the brain.

The inability to remember details, such as the location of objects, begins in early midlife (the 40s) and may be the result of a change in what information the brain focuses on during memory formation and retrieval, rather than a decline in brain function, according to a study by McGill University researchers.

Senior author Natasha Rajah, Director of the Brain Imaging Centre at McGill University’s Douglas Institute and Associate Professor in McGill’s Department of Psychiatry, says this reorientation could impact daily life. “This change in memory strategy with age may have detrimental effects on day-to-day functions that place emphasis on memory for details such as where you parked your car or when you took your prescriptions.”

Brain changes associated with dementia are now thought to arise decades before the onset of symptoms. So a key question in current memory research concerns which changes to the aging brain are normal and which are not. But Dr. Rajah says most of the work on aging and memory has concentrated on understanding brain changes later in life. “So we know little about what happens at midlife in healthy aging and how this relates to findings in late life. Our research was aimed at addressing this issue.”

In this study, published in the journal, NeuroImage, 112 healthy adults ranging in age from 19 to 76 years were shown a series of faces. Participants were then asked to recall where a particular face appeared on the screen (left or right) and when it appeared (least or most recently). The researchers used functional MRI to analyze which parts of brain were activated during recall of these details.

Rajah and colleagues found that young adults activated their visual cortex while successfully performing this task. As she explains, “They are really paying attention to the perceptual details in order to make that decision.” On the other hand, middle-aged and older adults didn’t show the same level of visual cortex activation when they recalled the information. Instead, their medial prefrontal cortex was activated. That’s a part of the brain known to be involved with information having to do with one’s own life and introspection.

Even though middle-aged and older participants didn’t perform as well as younger ones in this experiment, Rajah says it may be wrong to regard the response of the middle-aged and older brains as impairment. “This may not be a ‘deficit’ in brain function per se, but reflects changes in what adults deem ‘important information’ as they age.” In other words, the middle-aged and older participants were simply focusing on different aspects of the event compared to those in the younger group.

Rajah says that middle-aged and older adults might improve their recall abilities by learning to focus on external rather than internal information. “That may be why some research has suggested that mindfulness meditation is related to better cognitive aging.”

Rajah is currently analyzing data from a similar study to discern if there are any gender differences in middle-aged brain function as it relates to memory. “At mid-life women are going through a lot of hormonal change. So we’re wondering how much of these results is driven by post-menopausal women.”

This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and by a grant from the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

Article: Changes in the modulation of brain activity during context encoding vs. context retrieval across the adult lifespa, E. Ankudowich, S. Pasvanis, M.N. Rajah, NeuroImage, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.06.022, published online 14 June 2016.

Registration – Alzheimer’s and Dementia Summit

Source: Registration – Alzheimer’s and Dementia Summit