Turmeric has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of ailments.
It is widely used as a food coloring and gives Indian curry its distinctive flavor and yellow color. It is also used in mustard and to color butter and cheese.
Turmeric has been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, to treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds. Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant; antioxidants scavenge particles in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and may reduce and prevent some of the damage they cause. In addition, curcumin reduces inflammation by lowering levels of two inflammatory enzymes in the body and stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.
Because of its ability to reduce inflammation, turmeric may help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. A study of people using an Ayurvedic formula of herbs and minerals containing turmeric, as well as Withinia somnifera (winter cherry), Boswellia serrata (Boswellia), and zinc, significantly reduced pain and disability.
Curcumin may help prevent, control, or kill several types of cancers, including prostate, breast, skin, and colon. It's effects may be due to its ability to stop the blood vessels that supply cancerous tumors from growing, and its preventive effects may come from its strength as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage.