Turmeric for Menopause Symptoms
If you don’t mind looking like Big Bird or smelling like your local Thai restaurant, woman heading through menopause can use turmeric for menopause symptoms to help with headaches, regulating crazy periods, improving depression and improving your skin texture. Actually, we doubt you would turn yellow, but it’s funny to think about curry-colored sweat!
Health Benefits of Turmeric
The health benefits of turmeric, or curcuma longa, have been known for thousands of years, but perhaps, with our memory loss problems, we’ve forgotten about it! Turmeric has been used medicinally in traditional Chinese medicine and by Ayurvedic doctors of India, just to name two. It’s been used to treat inflammation, pain, digestive problems like bloating or diarrhea, liver and kidney problems, bronchitis, colds and lung infections. New research suggests that it may help relieve the pain of fibromyalgia and arthritis, and to prevent Alzheimer’s disease when used in combination with Vitamin D. Again – you just have to remember to take both of them! Turmeric has antibacterial qualities, is an antioxidant, and helps to prevent and fight cancer. It is used as a topical treatment for infected wounds and bruises and pretty much any other skin condition. And just in case you live in a third world country, it’s good for ringworm and leech bites and leprosy, oh my! This seems like the mother of all remedies.
Curcumin— The Active Ingredient
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin which is an extract from the root of the plant. It’s related to the ginger plant we can buy at the grocery store and is supposedly easy to grow in temperate climates. So really, what you want to be using is curcumin. Turmeric /curcumin needs to be paired with pepper to be easily absorbed into our system. However it’s thought that pepper may cause some problems and should be taken in small amounts. There are some new methods being used to help with that absorption that don’t use pepper.
Research on Turmeric
There really isn’t much research on the subject of turmeric, curcumin and their medicinal qualities in the western medicine litany. There are a few saffron-colored rats out there, but there’s very little scientific research on humans and none that we can find that is directly related to menopausal symptoms. Luckily for us, turmeric/curcumin is good for a lot of our symptoms, so what the heck.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine produced a research project called Turmeric and Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms where the arthritic mice felt much, much better with less inflammation after taking curcumin extract. (How could they tell the mice felt better? Were they smiling? Eating more cheese? Running on their wheel longer? Maybe they threw away their canes.) Here’s what they found: Using an experimental animal model of rheumatoid arthritis, NCCAM-supported investigators demonstrated that a curcuminoid-containing turmeric extract, similar to that found in turmeric dietary supplements, significantly inhibited joint inflammation and joint destruction.
Alzheimers, Cardiovascular and More
The following research project by Bharat B. Aggarwal1 and Kuzhuvelil B. Harikumar showed very promising results including slowing of Alzheimer’s disease: Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin, the Anti-inflammatory Agent, Against Neurodegenerative, Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, Metabolic, Autoimmune and Neoplastic Diseases
This study by Dr. J. White DZ from Oregon Health & Science University answered this clinical inquiry with a big YES: Clinical Inquiry. Does turmeric relieve inflammatory conditions?
How to use Turmeric
Turmeric can be eaten, taken in pill form, as an extract, as a tea, in food, and used topically as a poultice. You can pretty much roll in it if you want to. Since curcumin is the active ingredient, it is suggested to take extracted curcumin with piperine (pepper). Turmeric (thus curcumin) needs to be paired with pepper to be well absorbed into our systems.
The site noted below, although we found it a little odd, has some great information on turmeric and how to use it in other than the pill form. Dean Alter, from the School of Natural Medicine, gives some great advice and a lot of additional information about turmeric here.
You can buy curcumin in bulk at the grocery store or here and put it in gelatin capusules. The task is made easier with the Capsule machine.
Turmeric Side Effects?
Besides the weird impossibility of turning you into a feathery yellow creature like Big Bird, there is evidence that long term use of turmeric supplements can cause stomach upset. Some suspect the pepper often paired with turmeric. So this may not be a good idea for those with ulcers or gallbladder problems. Since turmeric is used to stimulate the uterus and regulate periods, don’t take it if you are pregnant or nursing. It may also have blood thinning qualities, so talk to your doctor before taking it and don’t take it if you are about to have surgery.
There has also been some concern over a chemical used when extracting the curcumin from the turmeric that is known to cause all sorts of neurological problems, so it is important that you really research the manufacturing techniques used when processing curcumin.
Read more on the subject of turmeric in this very informative book by Bharat B. Aggarwal PhD and in the links below:
National Institutes of Health, MedLinePlus—a service of the US National Library of Medicine