Turmeric is useless unless combined with this spice

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Turmeric is useless unless combined with this spice
Turmeric is useless unless combined with this spice

For thousands of years, turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes all over the world and over the past 25 years, over 3000 papers have been published on its medicinal benefits. This bright yellow spice has been used medicinally to treat and alleviate symptoms for a wide variety of ailments: arthritis, depression, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s and more.

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family, and its bright yellow color can be attributed to its curcumin content. Curcumin is the polyphenol that gives turmeric its medicinal qualities, as it is thought to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-cancer properties.

But recent studies have shown that cooking with turmeric alone may not provide the health benefits you may think. Other than needing fat to be absorbed by the body (curcumin is fat-soluble), recent studies have shown that curcumin has low bioavailability as it is metabolized too quickly in the liver and intestinal wall. This means your body cannot absorb it well enough to reap its benefits. However, by adding black pepper, you can increase its bioavailability by 2000%.

Black pepper contains an alkaloid called piperine, which is responsible for the strong taste of the spice. Piperine helps inhibit the glucoronidation (a form of metabolism) of the curcumin, slowing down its breakdown and allowing it to be absorbed by your body. This effect has been found in both animal and human studies.

In studies done with humans, after ingesting 2g of pure curcumin, blood serum levels of curcumin were either very low or completely undetectable. When combined with 20mg of piperine, within 15 minutes to one hour of ingestion, blood serum levels increased by 2000% without any adverse effects.

Studies have shown that this powerful combination has helped reduce the formation of tumors in animal models, has helped control symptoms in those with major depressive disorder, and has the potential to treat multi-drug resistant cancers.

So when cooking with turmeric, make sure to add ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to enhance its health benefits and to maximize its absorption. If choosing to take an extract, be sure to purchase one that also contains piperine. The usual turmeric extract dosage is 400 to 600 mg per day, taken up to three times per day. Remember not to take turmeric supplements if you are on blood-thinning medication (i.e., warfarin/Coumadin, aspirin) as turmeric can strengthen the effects of these medications and increase your risk of bleeding.

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