Turmeric Overview

Turmeric at Work in Your Body


­OK, so we've established the fact that turmeric is about as versatile as a spice can get. Now let's look at how it works in your body. One of the main components in turmeric is curcumin, which just happens to be an incredibly powerful antioxidant.

When we breathe, cells use the oxygen we take in and then they spit out free radicals. This is a process called oxidation and it's the same thing that causes iron to rust. Now imagine that happening inside your body. The thing with free radicals is that they have unpaired electrons, which makes them highly unstable. A molecule with unpaired electrons is either going to get rid of an electron, or steal one from somewhere else to become stable [source: Health Check Systems]. The problem with this is that it can cause a damaging chain reaction. In order for one free radical to become stable, another molecule has to become unstable and so on and so on. This is where antioxidants like curcumin come into play.

Curcumin and other antioxidants neutralize free radicals. They literally hunt them down and stabilize them. This can help in a couple different ways. If a chain reaction has already begun, antioxidants have the ability to put a stop to it or they can prevent it from ever getting started in the first place. Keep in mind that oxidation is a natural process. There's nothing we can do to stop it. In fact, it's necessary to sustain life. However, by taking antioxidants like curcumin in moderation, we can slow down its degenerative side effects.

Aside form containing powerful antioxidants, turmeric also happens to be an anti-inflammatory. Our bodies produce two prostaglandins, cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2, known respectively as COX-1 and COX-2. While COX-1 is important in our bodies and necessary for proper blood clotting, COX-2 is only associated with inflammation [source: Mother Nature]. Aspirin prevent inflammation by blocking production of both prostaglandins, but turmeric only blocks production of COX-2. It is easy to see how this would be beneficial. Turmeric allows us to stop inflammation without affecting other important body functions.

Read on to find out more about turmeric's exciting health benefits.