A while ago a visitor asked me a very good question. Turmeric had eliminated chronic inflammation she was living with for most of her life (ulcerative colitis roughly 60 years, arthritis about 15-20 and insulin resistance around 10 years).
She asked if inflammation serves a positive purpose and “whether taking turmeric actually heals us or simply short circuits our warning systems, which could actually have adverse effects in the event that something more serious is going on” .
What a great question. One that I am sure occurs in the mind of many turmeric users. It’s a logical one because pharma based modern medicine usually treats inflammation by treating (suppressing) the symptoms only.
I decided to take my answer out of the comment section (which probably few people read) of the Dosage and Method: Turmeric article and share it with the rest of my readers.
So, here we go. Does inflammation serve a positive purpose?
Yes, it does.
Like pain, it tells us something is wrong and needs correcting. Both take up energy reserves combating/dealing with it. Inflammation left unchecked will result in damaged tissue. For example:
- Arthritis, inflammation of the joints, long term will result in damaged cartilage and loss of synovial fluid due to inflammatory cytokines.
- Gut inflammation long term will cause a disruption in how we absorb and process nutrients as well as cause damage to the lining of the intestines resulting in ‘leaky gut syndrome’.
- Chronic inflammation in general disrupts the autoimmune response and triggers symptoms of many disorders and diseases.
One can say that inflammation is the root cause of most diseases….from allergies and diabetes to arthritis, intestinal disorders (such as yours) to cancer and more.
Conventional anti-inflammatories such as Enbrel, Methotrexate, Orencia or steroids, suppress the immune response or mask inflammation. So, the patient may feel no more pain and assume all is well, but the real underlying cause is still there. And this will eventually trigger further complications that may seem unrelated, requiring ever more meds and ever more diagnostic procedures.
Here’s a quote from Sloan Kettering: “From laboratory experiments, it has been deduced that substances in turmeric (called curcuminoids) prevent inflammation by inhibiting the molecules that mediate inflammatory reactions. Curcuminoids protect the body in a few ways: they enhance the activity of an important detoxifying enzyme and they also act as antioxidants by neutralizing free radicals (which can cause DNA damage).”
There is a large body of studies on turmeric’s ability to treat inflammation. It does more than ‘suppress’ it. It addresses the underlying cause short and long term. Plus, it has a long list of positive side effects. Can’t say that for conventional ‘anti-inflammatories’. One often needs other meds to counteract the negative side effects.
Inflammation is the end result of a domino effect of other factors such as a poor lifestyle, poor nutritional habits, stress…is what ultimately ‘makes us ill’.
That last sentence is worth taking to heart. Much is within our own control – perhaps not everything, but much is.
Legally, I cannot say whether turmeric ‘cures’, but I can say that no, it doesn’t just short circuit our warning systems.
It addresses them.