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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Can Turmeric Help Manage Diabetes?

Turmeric has been used for centuries in both food and medicine. The spice is believed to have many potential benefits for the human body. But could turmeric be a new tool to help manage diabetes?

Turmeric is the common name for the root Curcuma longa. It is a bright yellow-orange spice that is a staple in traditional food dishes from many Asian countries.

In this article, we explore the role of turmeric in alternative and Western medicine. We go on to analyze the potential benefits of the spice for diabetes management.

Turmeric and medicine

turmeric
Turmeric and its compounds are being studied for conditions such as cancer, inflammation, and psoriasis.

Turmeric plays an important role in medical practices, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Medical science is interested in the herb, as well, due to the high levels of friendly compounds it contains. Of particular interest is a class of compounds called curcuminoids.

One curcuminoid found in turmeric is curcumin. This name is sometimes loosely used to describe all of the curcuminoids in turmeric.

Turmeric and curcumin are being studied for a number of human conditions such as:

  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • cancer
  • arthritis
  • uveitis
  • peptic ulcers
  • inflammation
  • h. pylori infections
  • vitiligo
  • psoriasis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Turmeric is also often added to the diet to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

Can turmeric help people with diabetes?

Including turmeric in the diet seems to promote general wellbeing. There is also evidence that indicates turmeric may be especially beneficial for people with diabetes.

It is believed that curcumin is the source of many of the medical benefits of turmeric. The focus of most research has been on curcumin itself, rather than the whole turmeric.

A review in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine compiled more than 13 years of research on the connection between diabetes and curcumin. The result suggests curcumin can help people with diabetes in different ways, as described here:

Curcumin may help control blood sugar

Curcumin may help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.

Tests using animal models indicated that curcumin could have a positive effect on high blood sugar. Many tests were also able to improve the levels of insulin sensitivity in test subjects. Other studies found that curcumin had little effect on blood sugar.

Thus, taking turmeric or curcumin orally may help reduce blood sugar levels to more controllable levels in some people, though more research on humans is necessary.

Curcumin may help prevent diabetes

curcumin capsule turmeric
Studies suggest that people with prediabetes may not develop full diabetes when given curcumin in capsules.

Researchers also noted that many of the studies done over the years showed turmeric might also protect against developing diabetes. One study posted to Diabetes Care found that people with prediabetes who were given curcumin for a period of 9 months were less likely to develop the full-blown condition.

The study also noted that the curcumin appeared to improve the function of the beta cells that make insulin in the pancreas. Accordingly, including turmeric or curcumin in the diet may be beneficial for people who want to reduce their chance of developing diabetes.

Curcumin may reduce diabetes-related complications

Compounds like curcumin may also help with a few diabetes-related complications.

People with diabetes often have liver disorders, such as fatty liver disease. Researchers gave test subjects curcumin over a long period of time. As a result, these people appeared to have fewer symptoms of liver disorders.

Curcumin may also help:

  • prevent nerve damage caused by diabetes
  • prevent diabetic cataracts, according to results of animal tests
  • fight cognitive problems, due to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • fight kidney disease, by reducing important markers

The compound curcumin was reported to be active against diabetic vascular disease, and it seems to speed wound-healing. There is also evidence that suggests long-term curcumin intake can improve aspects of digestion.

Curcumin may adjust immune response in type 1 diabetes

An article posted to Clinical and Experimental Immunology also noted that curcumin may adjust how the over-active immune system works in people with type 1 diabetes.

Researchers found that curcumin lowers the T cell response of the body. This is the immune response that destroys the pancreatic beta cells that make insulin.

This means that curcumin may help empower the immune system. Similarly, it may boost the immunomodulatory medicines prescribed to manage type 1 diabetes.

Risks, considerations, and side effects

Before taking any new supplements, a healthcare professional should be consulted.

Turmeric is considered safe and can be included in the diet regularly. However, there is the potential for side effects when turmeric or curcumin are taken in large doses. Some people experience symptoms of indigestion, nausea, or diarrhea if they take too much of either.

People with certain conditions may need to avoid turmeric altogether, as it may make these worse. Conditions that might be affected include:

  • gallbladder disease
  • kidney stones
  • anemia

Taking too much curcumin or turmeric for a long period of time may also contribute to liver problems.

Similarly, the spice may increase the effects of other blood sugar medications, potentially leading to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. The best course of action is for people to work with a knowledgeable doctor or healthcare practitioner before using supplements like curcumin for any of their symptoms.

Turmeric and diabetes management

If people with diabetes add turmeric to their diets, it should be used as a supplement to a comprehensive diabetes management plan.

Many people with diabetes respond well to:

  • eating a healthful diet
  • exercising regularly
  • managing their stress levels

Doctors will often work directly with a person to create an individualized health plan that addresses their specific symptoms.

A good diet plan for people with diabetes usually begins with a move away from processed foods. People should aim for a diet rich in natural, unprocessed meals instead. Eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains helps to ensure a diet contains as many nutrients as possible.

People with diabetes must watch their carbohydrate intake, particular carbohydrates in processed and refined sugars, as these can cause spikes in the blood sugar. Although natural sugars such as those found in fruit are better options, these also need to be accounted for when managing diabetes.

Fiber-rich foods are also needed, as they slow the rate of sugar absorption in the body. This may help prevent blood sugar spikes during the day.

Including plenty of other healthy spices besides turmeric in the diet may also help some people manage their diabetes symptoms. These include:

  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • cumin

Criticisms of turmeric and curcumin

Not everyone is convinced curcumin is as good as it seems.

A recent study posted in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry was critical of the use of curcumin to help prevent or treat anything.

The researchers argued that curcumin is not very bioavailable and that the quality of the herb can vary greatly. This makes it difficult to use or test its compounds in a controlled way. They called for a more careful examination of curcumin in future research.

Outlook on taking turmeric for diabetes

Turmeric is not a medicine in the Western sense of the word. It is not a replacement for any medications a person may be taking. It should also not be used as a substitute for any part of diabetes care.

Both turmeric and curcumin can easily be taken to supplement a diabetes-care regimen. This should be done under the guidance of a doctor, who may ask a person to start out with a low dose to gauge their reaction to it. The dose can be increased, gradually, to avoid any complications or side effects.

Pairing turmeric or curcumin with oils, fats, or black pepper may also increase the effect of their beneficial compounds.

Ten Alternative Cold and Flu Remedies to Try

Homeopathic medicine has great potential when used in conjunction with conventional medicine. Here are ten simple remedies you can try to help stop colds and flu symptoms in their tracks.

lemon-essential-oil1. Lemon

Even though lemons taste acidic, their juice helps to alkalinize the body. Lemons are loaded with vitamin C, which is known to support the body’s immune system. Lemon, as well as lime, is reported to decrease the strength of the cold and flu virus in the body and reduce phlegm.

How to use: Drink the juice of a lemon, or a few drops of lemon essential oil, squeezed into a cup of water or tea every few hours to build resistance or speed up healing.

garlic-for-cold2. Garlic

Garlic is great in treating sore throats and infections. Garlic contains the immune-boosting compound allicin, also known to relieve cold and flu symptoms.

How to use: Crush five cloves and mix with half a cup of honey.  Let it sit for a couple of hours and the mixture will become runny and thin. Take a teaspoonful at a time, as needed. If you’re worried about a severe odor or taste, crush a couple of cloves of garlic and “steep” them in hot water. Drink it like a mug of tea.

cinnamon-stick-powder-1309093. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is known as a natural antibiotic, is a powerful antioxidant.

How to use: A teaspoon of raw honey and a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon can knock out a cold within a day or two.

turmeric4. Turmeric

Turmeric contains an anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin, which has a strong cold and flu-fighting properties. Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and turmeric tea has been used for extensively worldwide for colds, congestion, headache, and sore throats.

How to use: Stir a teaspoon into a glass of water or use it in your cooking. In addition, the combination of honey with turmeric powder is an excellent remedy for a cough.

cayenne-pepper-metabolism_15. Cayenne pepper

Peppers are a heart-healthy food with the potential to protect against cancer, as well as common cold and flu viruses. Cayenne pepper is a natural remedy for a sore throat that can often precede a cold or flu.

How to use: A mixture of hot red chili powder and orange juice is an effective remedy for sore throats and congestion. Or take a teaspoon of pepper in a glass of water immediately when you feel a cold or a sore throat coming on. Its strong stimulatory effect can be enough to knock a cold out in the early stages.

oregano-herb6. Oregano

Oregano is one of the best herbs for a cold. It is an excellent anti-inflammatory that contains phenolic acids, flavonoids, and color compounds that increase resistance and boosts immunity. Oregano is known for its antibacterial, antivirus, anti-fungus, anti-tumor, anti-inflammation, and anti-parasitic properties.

How to use: Oil of oregano is even more potent, and traditional healers since ancient times have used oregano extract to treat respiratory issues such as coughs, colds, flu, sore throats, and bronchitis. Add three to 10 drops of oil to a glass of water twice a day and continue until symptoms subside.

ginger-essence7. Ginger

Ginger is a stimulant that will also warm you if you’re feeling chilled with your cold. It’s best used fresh rather than as a powder.

How to use: Peel and grate a small piece of ginger root and place in a cup of boiling water. Allowed it to steep for five minutes, sweeten with honey if desired, and sip whenever needed to soothe a scratchy throat or a cough.

peppermint-oil8. Peppermint

Peppermint can clear blocked noses and sinuses. It can also help the body fight off illnesses.

How to use: Enjoy it as a stimulating tea or add some peppermint teabags of it to your bath. A few drops of peppermint essential oil in a glass of water, or diffused, can also work wonders.

apple cider vinegar9. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can fight off infection, ease digestion, reduce inflammation, kill fungus, regulate pH balance, and wash toxins from the body. It’s also known to restore alkaline acid balance.

How to use: Add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to a tablespoon of honey and a cup of hot water to create an elixir to help ward off cold and flu symptoms.

honey-lemon-tea-a-800-dm10. Honey

A daily dose of honey can help you to feel energetic and stay healthy. It also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, so, if you do develop a sore or scratchy throat, honey will soothe and help heal. Research shows that children who take a spoonful of honey before bed, cough less and sleep better than those who take over-the-counter products for coughs and colds.

How to use: Adding a little lemon to the honey will increase its anti-microbial effect. Honey and lemon can also be combined with hot water to make a soothing tea.

Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that greatly reduces a person’s quality of life, and can cause disability and premature death.

It affects an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States, and more women have it than men.

To understand the natural remedies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it is important to know what the disease is, what causes it, and what natural remedies can do to help.

Treating RA

The aims of any treatment for RA are to:

rheumatoid arthritic hands holding a mug
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints, often in the feet and hands first.
  • Educate people about the disease
  • Reduce pain and swelling
  • Help people stay active and feel better
  • Slow damage to the joints

Treatments may be medical or nonmedical, and they are often used in combination.

Since RA is a progressive disease that gets worse without intervention, treatment tends to be aggressive.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are often prescribed within 3 months of diagnosis, to reduce disease activity and prevent the joints from deforming.

People with RA should work with a specialist to discuss medical treatment, and talk about other remedies that can reduce discomfort and improve mobility and quality of life.

Natural remedies for rheumatoid arthritis

According to clinical guidelines found in Orgão Oficial da Sociedade Portugue sa de Reumatologia, physical therapy may help people with RA.

Physical therapy can involve stretching, exercise, heat and cold, and balanced rest.

Stretching

Stretching the muscles surrounding the affected joints may provide relief from symptoms of RA.

A study posted to Health Technology Assessment found that simple stretches and strengthening exercises on the hands can bring relief to patients with RA.

Results suggested that a stretching and strengthening program to relieve symptoms in the hands and wrists may be an effective supplement to conventional care methods.

People with RA should talk to a doctor or physical therapist before beginning any stretching regimen to make sure it will not put the joints under any undue stress.

Exercise

In addition to stretching, a low-stress workout program may help. Dynamic, low-stress activities, such as swimming or cycling can strengthen the muscles around the affected joints, reduce the impact on joints, and slow the progression of the RA.

Heat and cold

There is conflicting medical evidence on the effect of applying heat or cold to areas affected by RA. However, some people may find temporary relief through heating or cool the sore areas of their bodies.

In the home, heat packs or ice packs can provide relief to sore wrists and feet. Ultrasound heat and cold sprays can also be used to deliver heat or cold to a deep level of tissue without changing the temperature of the skin too much.

Balanced rest

Rest is an important treatment for aching joints, but it must be balanced with exercise, as too much rest can make aching joints worse.

It is important to work closely with a doctor and physical therapist to ensure there is a balance between rest periods and strengthening exercise.

Diet

Since inflammation is one of the main symptoms of RA, an anti-inflammatory diet may help to reduce symptoms.

Fruit and vegetables
Studies suggest a diet of fresh fruit and vegetables alongside grains and nuts may help to reduce inflammation.

A study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine looked at 600 participants who followed a plant-based diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

The researchers found that most participants had a reduction in a specific protein, which is known to be active in causing inflammation.

People who followed this anti-inflammatory vegan diet appeared to have significantly reduced systemic inflammation.

People with RA should consider a healthy anti-inflammatory diet to reduce pain and support their overall wellbeing.

Supplements

Specific supplements may help promote a healthy lifestyle. Fish oil from cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, cod, and herring contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and block inflammatory receptors in the body. These can help as RA is an inflammatory disease.

A meta-analysis posted to The Nutrition Society compiled research on fish oil and RA. Their findings indicate that people who used fish oil and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for a long time had less tenderness in their joints. The researchers concluded that fish oil may be beneficial as a supplemental therapy for people with RA.

Boswellia, or frankincense, is another powerful anti-inflammatory supplement, which may help relieve symptoms of RA.

Turmeric shows promise as a natural anti-inflammatory. In a study posted to Arthritis and Rheumatology, researchers found that a specific extract of turmeric reduced joint inflammation in people with arthritis.

Increasing turmeric consumption by adding the spice to food could help without causing any side effects. Turmeric supplements should be used with care. People who also use blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin should avoid turmeric.

A recent study published in the journal Nutrition found that treating patients with a specific probiotic, L. casei 01, improved both disease activity and inflammation in patients with RA.

If further research confirms these results, probiotics could become part of the treatment for RA. Rather than using supplements, people with RA can get all the probiotics they need from foods, such as yogurt, pickles, and cheese.

Some supplements may help with RA, but it is important to discuss these with a doctor before taking any as they may have adverse side effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate herbs and supplements. As a result, the doses of supplements can be irregular; some could be high and others low.

Lifestyle changes

Reducing stress on the body and mind is likely to help people with RA.

Regular mindful meditation, Tai chi, yoga, and qigong are all gentle ways to bring balance and relaxation to both the body and mind.

Overview of RA

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease in which the immune system attacks the individual’s own body tissues.

three generations
Although the exact cause is unknown, rheumatoid arthritis may be hereditary.

Symptoms most commonly appear in the joints, where RA creates inflammation and causes the lining of the joints to thicken. It can affect other parts too, such as the lungs.

Unchecked, this inflammation can damage the cartilage and bones. Early diagnosis and treatment can help.

The joints most commonly affected are the small joints in the hands, and feet although other joints can be affected too, usually, both hands and or feet are affected similarly.

Causes and symptoms

The exact cause of RA is unknown, but it appears to involve genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.

Symptoms often begin in middle age and are more common in older people. They include inflammation, stiffness, pain, and swelling around the affected areas. Fatigue and weight loss can also occur because of the inflammation in the body as a whole.

Symptoms vary from person to person and can come and go over time. If untreated, RA tends to damage the joints where there is inflammation.

When to see a doctor

It is always important to speak with a doctor before beginning any treatment, including natural remedies. If a person wants to use herbs and supplements as part of their treatment, they should discuss this with their doctor. This is particularly important because the FDA do regulate herbs and supplements.

If inflammation or other symptoms become worse, it is important to consult a doctor.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with RA should learn about the options and make appropriate lifestyle changes to support a healthy future and reduce pain as far as possible.

Natural Home Remedies for Sore Throat

Sore throats are one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor and they tend to affect children the most. A sore throat is usually considered a minor complaint until you have one and every swallow induces pain—pain that may seem unbearable. Unfortunately, the only option is to treat the symptoms and rest until you recover. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies that can soothe a sore throat and there’s a good chance you already have many of them in your home.

Common Sore Throat Causes

There are many potential causes of a sore throat, viruses are the most common. In fact, viruses account for about 95% of sore throats in both adults and children under the age of 5. Other common causes of a sore throat include:

  • Allergies
  • Dry air
  • Pollution
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to people with a sore throat
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Strep throat (bacterial)
  • Tonsillitis
  • Weak immune system
  • Acid reflux

Common Sore Throat Symptoms

Isn’t a sore throat a symptom itself? Yes, but as you probably already know, not all sore throats are the same and some are more severe than others. You might have one that only makes your voice a little hoarse, or it might be a serious impediment to your ability to breathe comfortably. Some of the most common symptoms of a sore throat are:

  • Pain when swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry and itchy throat
  • Swollen glands around the neck and throat
  • Hoarse voice

A sore throat is also a first symptom of the common cold and flu, but you might have other symptoms such as fever, runny nose, congestion, headache, abdominal pain, or vomiting. Consult your trusted healthcare provider if your sore throat lasts longer than one week.

Best Home Remedies for Sore Throat

1. Drink Warm Fluids

If you have a cold, make sure you’re taking in plenty of fluids. Nothing feels better than warm tea and thin soup when you’re sick. When your throat is raw and inflamed, drinking warm beverages keeps your throat moist and comfortable. Black tea might be the obvious choice, but give green or oolong tea a chance if Earl Grey just isn’t your, well, cup of tea.

2. Gargle Salt Water

For fast relief from sore throat pain, gargle 8 ounces of warm water with half a teaspoon of salt. You may have heard of this practice before and dismissed it as an old wives’ tale, but it does work and many people swear by it.

3. Use a Humidifier

If there’s anything that can make a sore throat even worse, it’s harsh, dry air. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air around you. In one study, using a humidifier reduced the severity of sore throat pain. If you’re experiencing other symptoms like upper respiratory congestion, try adding an essential oil like eucalyptus oil to the humidifier to loosen and help expel excess mucus.

4. Honey and Black Seed Oil

Honey may not be suitable for vegans, and it’s dangerous for children under the age of one. However, honey does offer many benefits. Add a teaspoon of honey to your tea, or take a spoonful by mouth to sooth your sore throat. As an added bonus, research indicates that honey significantly improves cough symptoms in children.

You can spike your honey with therapeutic spice by adding 2-3 drops of black cumin seed oil (also called black seed oil) to your honey. Like herbal teas, black cumin seed oil is an anti-inflammatory and can help soothe the pain.

5. Cold Food

Drinking or eating something cold soothes an irritated throat almost immediately. Instead of ice cream or ice pops, opt for whole fruit sorbet or make your own fruit pops to soothe the irritation.

6. Herbal Tea

Many varieties of herbal tea are effective at soothing a sore throat. Chamomile, lavender, echinacea, sage, ginger, peppermint, and licorice root tea all have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Peppermint, in particular, relieves upper respiratory congestion by improving lung function and the ability to breathe through your nose. If you need to add a little sweetener, stir a teaspoon of honey or elderberry into your herbal tea.

7. Essential Oils: Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Myrrh

Myrrh and eucalyptus are effective for soothing a sore throat but don’t take them as a tea. Instead, inhale the vapors by using a diffuser or humidifier. You can also gargle with myrrh like a mouthwash.

Apply one or two drops of lavender oil, specifically and exclusively from the Lavandula angustifolia species, to the back of your tongue or throat, to relieve the pain from a dry, scratchy throat. The taste isn’t overwhelming and the only side effect is fresh floral-smelling breath.

8. Spices: Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger, and Clove

Cayenne might seem counterintuitive for a sore throat but, after the burn, it provides relief by numbing the pain. To make, add one tablespoon of cayenne pepper to a quarter cup of warm water. Mix in the cayenne completely, take a mouthful, tilt your head back, and gargle. If you can’t handle a lot of spice, this might not be the best solution.

Turmeric and ginger both have long histories as therapeutic plants. Drinking ginger juice alleviates sore throat pain. You can also make a tea with fresh ginger. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is very soothing. You can make a turmeric gargle to soothe a sore throat, just like cayenne, but without the sting.

Make a clove tea, clove calms inflammation and eases the discomfort associated with a sore throat.

9. Propolis

Research indicates that propolis offers multiple health benefits, especially for those suffering from an upper respiratory infection. If you’ve never heard of it, propolis is made of plant material, beeswax, and, well, bee saliva. It is useful against most types of harmful organisms, even the flu virus. Take it by adding 5 drops of propolis to a teaspoon of water.

10. Honey and Elderberry

Honey with elderberry is my favorite combination. Research suggests that elderberry reduces the severity of the common cold and flu symptoms and may shorten the duration of the illness. Add a little elderberry syrup to your honey and stir into your tea or simply take it by mouth. If you use fresh elderberries, make sure to cook them thoroughly; raw elderberries are not safe to eat.

How to Prevent a Sore Throat

The best strategy is to avoid catching a sore throat in the first place. Reduce your chances by washing your hands and limiting your exposure to sick people. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, which may irritate your throat. Strengthen your immune system by eating cruciferous vegetables and carotenoid-rich tomatoes. For more tips, check out our How to Stay Healthy During the Winter article.

There are, of course, many types of lozenges, sprays, gargles, and, recently, pain strips but be careful with OTC medicine as it may have very real side effects. Conversely, most of the remedies described in this article do not have unpleasant side effects.

Can You Treat Psoriasis with Turmeric?

Turmeric is a yellow-colored, aromatic spice commonly used in Indian cuisine. Its use in food, as well as natural medicine, has been prevalent in Eastern cultures for thousands of years.

Research has confirmed that turmeric contains potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may play a role in combating many diseases.

Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is where many of the spice’s health benefits stem from.

Current evidence suggests that this spice may help in the management of certain skin disorders like psoriasis.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis on an elbow
Psoriasis is a common skin disorder with a number of associated risk factors.

Psoriasis is a skin disorder marked by inflamed, scaly skin. People with the disorder often report heat, pain, and swelling. Many experience embarrassment in social situations, due to the redness and swelling of the skin.

In psoriasis, skin cells rise to the surface faster than usual. This results in a rapid turnover of cells.

In people with psoriasis, the white T cells of the immune system are triggered by mistake. This is what causes the uncontrolled inflammation and increased cell turnover.

Since the condition involves a problem with the immune system, psoriasis is considered an autoimmune disease.

The inflammation tends to affect the skin of the legs, elbows, knees, scalp, back, and face.

Causes

A number of risk factors are associated with psoriasis.

It tends to run in families. A person who has a parent or sibling with psoriasis is more likely to have it than others.

Psoriasis is more likely to affect adults than children.

Symptoms

The symptoms of psoriasis vary from one person to the next.

The main symptoms include red, dry skin that is flaky and scaly. It can also be itchy. There may be a pain in the joints and the skin.

Conventional treatments

The conventional treatments that are currently available aim to stop, or drastically slow, the rate of cell turnover. They also aim to prevent ongoing inflammation.

Topical creams or ointments can be used to suppress the immune system, reduce inflammation, and soothe the skin of patients with psoriasis.

Light therapy from the sun or artificial ultraviolet light sources also appears to help fight the disorder.

Prescription drugs are available for more severe forms of the disease. Some anti-inflammatory medications are used to reduce the swelling and redness.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is known mainly for adding flavor to Indian dishes, like curry. It is a yellow-colored spice that appears to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Turmeric
Turmeric is a yellow spice that may often be found in Indian cuisine.

Turmeric may be used in powdered or root form, or as a dietary supplement.

Researchers have investigated the use of turmeric in preventing and managing a range of conditions, particularly those that involve inflammation. It may help to relieve psoriasis and other inflammatory-related skin conditions, but more research is still needed.

Turmeric is generally considered safe for most people, but there are some precautions.

People with gallbladder disease, for example, should not use turmeric supplements, as they may worsen the condition.

Turmeric in high doses over a prolonged period of time can cause nausea, diarrhea, and indigestion.

People using turmeric supplements for psoriasis should speak to their doctor first to ensure that it will not interfere with current medications.

Can turmeric treat psoriasis?

A study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research examined the potential benefit of a topical preparation of turmeric for psoriasis.

After 9 weeks of applying the turmeric preparation, participants noticed a significant improvement in their symptoms and a reduction in lesions.

A more recent study suggested that the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric may have a role to play in the treatment of psoriasis.

Another study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology looked at the effect of oral curcumin on psoriasis. However, this study found that a dietary supplement resulted in low benefit if any.

Other possible health benefits of turmeric

Depression has sometimes been linked to inflammation, and some studies have found that the curcumin in turmeric can alleviate depression in some cases. Researchers believe there is a further link, apart from inflammation, but the exact mechanism behind curcumin’s potential mood-boosting effects remains unknown.

The curcumin compound in turmeric may also be useful for rheumatoid arthritis. Patients can utilize a topical ointment with curcumin or via supplements to help manage the swelling and pain associated with the disorder.

Some research suggests that curcumin can help balance blood sugar levels and manage type 2 diabetes if it is combined with lifestyle modifications and insulin therapy.

Others have suggested that turmeric may help to burn fat and to lose weight. It is not known whether turmeric encourages the body to burn fat, or if the weight loss stems from other factors.

People with a condition called vascular thrombosis often use anticlotting drugs to slow or prevent blood clotting. Turmeric has shown promise for helping reduce clotting in these situations.

Turmeric should never be used as a replacement for prescribed drugs. Any use of turmeric for a diagnosed condition should be discussed with a physician.

Turmeric—A “Universal” Cancer Treatment, and Much More

Turmeric is a yellow-pigmented curry spice that is often used in Indian cuisine. But this spice is far more than a cooking staple. It also has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as Ayurvedic medicine.

Traditional medicinal uses include the treatment of liver disease, skin problems, respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments, sprained muscles, joint pains, and general wound healing.

Its benefits have since been well documented in the medical literature, and curcumin—one of the most well-studied1,2 bioactive ingredients in turmeric— has been found to promote health and protect against a wide array of health conditions.

It actually exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, as well as potent anti-cancer properties that have been intensely studied.

What Makes Curcumin Such Potent Medicine?

Researchers have found a number of different mechanisms of action for curcumin, and part of the answer as to why curcumin appears to be such potent medicine is because it can:

   Modulate about 700 of your genes
   Positively modulate more than 160 different physiological pathways3
   Make your cells’ membranes more orderly4

Turmeric: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information

Turmeric is a perennial plant of the ginger family, native to southwest India. Turmeric is commonly consumed in powder form and used as a spice.

To make turmeric powder, the roots of the plant are boiled for 30-45 minutes, dried in ovens and then ground into a deep orange-yellow powder. Turmeric powder is a common spice used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. It is a major component of curry and can also be used for dyeing cloth.

There are three naturally occurring phytochemicals in turmeric: curcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin’s, together referred to as curcuminoids.

Nutritional breakdown of turmeric

Turmeric root and powder.
Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medical practice to treat multiple health issues.

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one tablespoon of turmeric powder contains 29 calories, 0.9 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of fat and 6.3 grams of carbohydrates (including 2 grams of fiber and 0.3 grams of sugar).

That same 1 tablespoon serving provides 26% of your daily manganese needs, 16% of iron, 5% of potassium and 3% of vitamin C.

Turmeric has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat inflammatory conditions, skin diseases, wounds, digestive ailments and liver conditions.

Possible benefits of consuming turmeric

Curcumin is the active substance in turmeric believed to be the source of many of its health benefits. Curcumin is also responsible for turmeric’s distinctly earthy, slightly bitter and peppery flavor.

Digestion

Curcumin may help improve digestion by stimulating the gallbladder to produce bile. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that turmeric reduced bloating and gas in people suffering from indigestion. The German Commission E, a group that determines which herbs can safely be prescribed in Germany, has approved the use of turmeric for digestive problems.

Inflammation

Curcumin lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation, which may indicate that consuming turmeric would be helpful in treating many inflammatory conditions.

Inflammation is a common thread that links the following conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Arthritis
  • inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease.

Curcumin shows promise as a natural anti-inflammatory treatment and is currently being tested in phase 2 and 3 clinical trials.

In a clinical study on curcumin’s effects on arthritis, 50 patients were given curcumin daily for 3 months. An increase in walking performance and distance was observed, as well as decreased inflammation levels.

Curcumin has also been shown to be effective for inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In multiple studies, people with inflammatory bowel diseases who were given curcumin supplements experienced a reduction in symptoms.

Heart health

Platelets in the blood.
Turmeric may reduce the risk of blood clot formation by preventing platelets from clumping together.

Turmeric has been shown to prevent blood platelets from clumping together, which may decrease the risk of blood clot formation. Early studies suggest that turmeric may help prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries. In animal studies, turmeric extract lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and prevented further accumulation.

However, in a human study where participants were given 4 grams of curcumin per day, cholesterol levels were not improved.

The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric benefit cardiovascular health. Some studies have found that turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have produced the following effects in animal models:

  • Reduced body weight
  • Lowered triglyceride synthesis
  • Increased basal metabolic rate
  • Increased fatty acid oxidation
  • Improved insulin sensitivity.

All of these effects would lower the risk of heart disease.

Anti-Cancer Properties of Turmeric and How to Increase Curcumin Absorption

Turmeric (scientific name Curcuma longa) belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. This perennial plant has a bright yellow rhizomatous root covered with a tan-colored skin. Turmeric is a popular spice that is widely used in the cuisines of the Middle East, Southeast Asian and North African regions. Turmeric is a very versatile herb that is also one of the key ingredients in spice blends for curries and it augments the flavor of soups, salads, meats, stir-fries and other cuisines.

The active elements in turmeric are called curcuminoids, which offer many health benefits. The particular compound called curcumin is known to be the most potent, therapeutically very powerful and responsible for turmeric’s cancer-killing attributes. This compound facilitates detoxification as well as rejuvenation of the liver, diminishes the negative consequences of excessive iron in the body.

In addition, curcumin augments the body’s antioxidant ability, reinforces the brain cells, enhances cognitive functioning and lessens the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease as well as treats the condition. This compound also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, lessens the chances of developing heart diseases and depression, besides combating premature aging.

We know that curcumin literally kills cancer, but what is its mechanism?

 

Curcumin’s lethal aspect

There are about 10 to 13 trillion cells in the human body. Every day our body replaces anything between 100 billion to 130 billion of these cells. The old and unnecessary cells are destroyed through a firmly controlled process of cell suicide known as apoptosis or programmed cell death.

Interestingly, unlike the normal cells, the carcinogenic cells do not commit suicide. On the contrary, they render the suicide genes inactive.

In such situations, curcumin stimulates the death receptors in different ways. Scientists are still in the process of learning the mechanism by which curcumin works to activate these receptors. One interesting means by which this compound turns on the death receptors is by activating enzymes that simply breaks up the proteins present in the cells. Scientists are of the view that cancer cells are unable to resist curcumin, unlike the chemotherapy drugs, because this compound triggers the death of carcinogenic cells in various different ways. As of now, we are still not aware of the reason behind curcumin sparing the healthy cells in our body. All that we know is that curcumin just kills the cells that are thought to be dead already.

Unfortunately, our bodies have a propensity to get rid of almost all the curcumin we consume. It is important to note that unless there is help, it becomes difficult for our body to absorb much curcumin.

 

Increasing bio-availability of curcumin

Our bodies have a problem with curcumin. As our liver tries to put off or get rid of unnecessary drugs, supplements and similar substances, it also retards curcumin absorption – a process known as glucuronidation. In effect, this process makes curcumin less effectual in our body compared to its normal effectiveness. Nevertheless, we can enhance the ability of our body to take up this compound.

 

Consume turmeric with black pepper

The strong flavor of black pepper is attributed to piperine, an alkaloid enclosed by it. Piperine slows down the metabolic functions of specific enzymes resulting in the disposal of what our body deems to be surplus curcumin. However, the action of this compound is not restricted only to curcumin, as black pepper can also augment the body’s ability to take up other supplements and similar substances. When taken with black pepper, piperine helps to raise the body’s ability to absorb curcumin by about 2000 percent.

 

Blend turmeric with useful fats

It has been established that curcumin dissolves in fats. In the absence of fats, curcumin does not disband as it should. As a result, curcumin finds it difficult to reach the gut and being assimilated into our blood stream and eventually reach the cells where the compound is needed. Hence, it is advisable that you always consume turmeric with beneficial fats such as olive oil, avocado and coconut oil.

 

Take turmeric with quercetin

A plant flavonoid, quercetin slows down the action of the enzymes that neutralize curcumin. Hence, it is advisable that you consume turmeric with quercetin.

Apples, blueberries, chicory greens, cranberries, onions, red lettuce leaf, sweet peppers, raw broccoli, raw spinach, raw kale, snap beans, green tea, black plums, red grapes and red wine are some foods that contain high levels of quercetin. However, capers are known to be the best whole food source that enclose quercetin.

Curcumin May Help Overcome Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis.

New research indicates that curcumin – a substance in turmeric that is best known as one of the main components of curry powder – may help fight drug-resistant tuberculosis. In Asia, turmeric is used to treat many health conditions and it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and perhaps even anticancer properties.

Investigators found that by stimulating human immune cells called macrophages, curcumin was able to successfully remove Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative bacterium of tuberculosis, from experimentally infected cells in culture. The process relied on inhibiting the activation of a cellular molecule called nuclear factor-kappa B.

The ability of curcumin to modulate the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis points to a potential new tuberculosis treatment that would be less prone to the development of drug resistance.

“Our study has provided basic evidence that curcumin protects against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in human cells,” said Dr. Xiyuan Bai, lead author of the Respirology study. “The protective role of curcumin to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis still needs confirmation, but if validated, curcumin may become a novel treatment to modulate the host immune response to overcome drug-resistant tuberculosis.”

Article: Curcumin enhances human macrophage control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, Xiyuan Bai, Rebecca E. Oberley-Deegan, An Bai, Alida R. Ovrutsky, William H. Kinney, Michael Weaver, Gong Zhang, Jennifer R. Honda and Edward D. Chan, Respirology, doi: 10.1111/resp.12762, published online 24 March 2016.

Antioxidants: Health Benefits and Nutritional Information.

Antioxidants are natural molecules found in certain foods that help neutralize free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are byproducts of metabolism and our environment.

Internal factors such as inflammation and external factors such as pollution, UV exposure and cigarette smoke can increase free radical production.

Free radicals can damage cells all over the body and cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been closely associated with heart disease,cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory diseases, immune deficiency,emphysema, Parkinson’s disease and other inflammatory or ischemic conditions.5

What do antioxidants do?

Heirloom_Tomatoes-1
Tomatoes are a source of lycopene, an antioxidant that provides them with their red color.

Antioxidants serve as protection against the cell damage that free radicals can cause by terminating the free radicals reaction with those cells. Some antioxidants are products of normal metabolism and others are found in food.

Synthetic antioxidants are widely used in the cosmetic and food industries, but may cause more harm than good due to their high volatility. As a result, it is important to obtain your antioxidants from natural sources as much as possible.5

Micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene, minerals such as selenium and manganese and many other flavonoids, polyphenols and phytoestrogens found in food all serve as antioxidants.

Each antioxidant serves a different function and is not interchangeable with another. This is why a varied diet is so important.

What are the best sources of antioxidants?

The best sources of antioxidants are plants (fruits and vegetables). Foods that are particularly high in antioxidants are often referred to as a “superfood” or “functional food” and include many types of berries, leafy greens, eggplant, legumes such as black beans or kidney beans and certain teas. Foods with rich, vibrant colors often contain the most antioxidants.

The following foods are also good sources of antioxidants. Click on each one to find out more about their health benefits and nutritional information:

Cooking particular foods can either increase or decrease antioxidant levels. Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich red color. When tomatoes are heat-treated, the lycopene becomes more bioavailable (easier for our bodies to process and use).

However, studies have shown that cauliflower, peas and zucchini lose much of their antioxidant activity in the cooking process. Keep in mind that the important thing is eating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods, cooked and raw, so that preparation can be your personal preference.

How to incorporate more antioxidants into your diet

The following tips could help increase your antioxidant intake:

  • Make sure you have a fruit or a vegetable every time you eat, meals and snacks included
  • Have a daily green or matcha tea
  • Look at the colors on your plate; is all of your food brown or beige? If so, it is likely that the antioxidants are low. Add in foods with rich color like kale, beets and berries
  • Spice it up! Make turmeric, cumin, oregano, ginger, clove and cinnamon your go-to spices to amp up the antioxidant content of your meals
  • Snack on nuts, seeds (especially Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds) and dried fruit (with no sugar or salt added).

Or, try these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians:

There is no set recommended daily allowance (RDA) for antioxidants.