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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 an herbal remedy for thousands of years in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
India grows 78 percent of the global supply of turmeric. A range of turmeric teas are available for purchase in health stores or online. 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.
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.
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.
A 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.
3. Helps 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.
A 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.
A 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).
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 spice flavor to the tea.
- Lemon, lime, or ginger, to enhance antioxidant and antimicrobial properties in the mixture and improve taste.
A range of turmeric teas are available for purchase online.