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Turmeric and Curcumin: The New Herbal Superstars

Turmeric and its most active compound, curcumin, are flying high; in 2013 they became the best-selling herbal supplements in natural and health food stores, according to a new report by the American Botanical Council. Although American consumers are just getting fired up about turmeric, this herb has been used for 4,000 years as a treatment for a variety of conditions, and as a staple in Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Turmeric has also been popular among researchers, who have devoted thousands of studies to investigating it over the last two decades. The scientific findings are impressive, and show that turmeric is extremely safe and has a wide range of therapeutic uses, including:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Acting as a strong antioxidant and protecting against free radical damage
  • Protecting the liver from toxins
  • Alleviating depression

Turmeric is sold as a whole root, or as an extract concentrated (standardized) to contain curcumin. There are some concerns, however, that the curcumin in turmeric extract is not well absorbed. Several brands have addressed this issue by combining the curcumin with black pepper, phospholipids, bromelain, or some other delivery method. Dosage is also important; the science suggests taking 250–500 mg, three times per day, of turmeric extract standardized to 90–95% curcumin.

Source: American Botanical Council

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