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Turmeric: An old world, modern day panacea, or state-of-the-art sports medicine?

Ancient, tried and tested, multi-faceted, proven, the closest thing to a magic bullet, state-of-the-art…? These are just some of the ways of describing turmeric’s remarkable properties.

Ancient, tried and tested, multi-faceted, proven, the closest thing to a magic bullet, state-of-the-art…? These are just some of the ways of describing turmeric’s remarkable properties. A paper published in 2016 in the peer-reviewed journal Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry linked the following biological and pharmacological activities to curcumin, the predominant active principle in turmeric: “a natural antioxidant… anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-Alzheimer…anti-tubercular, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, hepato-protective, neuro-protective, nephron-protective, anti-rheumatic and anti-viral” (from Synthetic and Medicinal Prospective of Structurally Modified Curcumins). No licensed pharmaceutical drug can get close to having such a broad range of effects on the body. There are now over 7000 published research studies that have shed light on the antioxidant, hypoglycaemic, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities of turmeric’s most studied active principle, curcumin (from The beneficial role of curcumin on inflammation, diabetes and neurodegenerative disease: A recent update).

The rhizome (root) of this perennial herb, known scientifically as Curcuma longa and belonging to the ginger family, is cultivated extensively in south and southeastern tropical Asia. It has become one of the hottest properties in natural medicine. So much so that it has the pharmaceutical interests salivating over how it can tweak some of turmeric’s active principles to create synthetic analogues that can then be patented (from Synthetic and Medicinal Prospective of Structurally Modified Curcumins).

Robert Verkerk is a leading scientist in the healthcare field and is the founder of the Alliance for Natural Health.

Robert is an internationally acclaimed scientist with over 25 years experience in the field of agricultural and healthcare sustainability, having worked in academia, industry and the not-for-profit sector. He has worked extensively in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas as well as Europe. After leaving Imperial College London in 2002, he founded the Alliance for Natural Health, which he has headed since.

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