Turmeric is the spice that gives curry, and food such as rice, and others its yellow color. It has been used in India for many years as both a spice and medicinal herb. Experts say that turmeric is used both as medicine and as a dietary supplement. Cleveland Clinic states that turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of the curcuma longa plant, which is persistent in the ginger family. Its major active ingredient is curcumin. “Curcumin gives turmeric that yellowish color. Emmy Ntamanga, a Kigali-based nutrition consultant notes that turmeric contains compounds called curcuminoids. The most important one is curcumin. Most studies use turmeric extracts that are standardised to include large amounts of curcumin. He stresses that turmeric contains bioactive compounds with medicinal properties, which help fight foreign invaders and has a role in repairing damage in your body. Curcumin can suppress many molecules known to play major roles in inflammation, but its bioavailability needs to be enhanced. Ntamanga states that turmeric can increase the antioxidant capacity of the body, for instance, the main reason antioxidants are so beneficial is that they protect your body from free radicals. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can neutralise free radicals due to its chemical structure. He stresses that curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone (BDNF) brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which surge the growth of new neurons and may help fight various degenerative processes in your brain. “There is a possibility of turmeric healing cancer, for example, curcumin has been studied as a beneficial herb in cancer treatment and has been found to affect cancer growth and development. Some studies suggest that it can help to kill cancerous cells, lower angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors) and reduce metastasis (spread of cancer),” he states. He carries on that due to its inflammatory role, turmeric can assist curb Alzheimer’s disease. According to studies curcumin may have a positive impact on various chronic diseases linked to oxidative stress and inflammation. Some of these are Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and ulcerative colitis. According to Ntamanga, if you have headaches or migraines, turmeric can be a good treatment. However, he notes that there is little scientific evidence showing that turmeric can treat or prevent headaches, though one study suggests it could be part of a new approach. He also states that due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, using a turmeric mask on the face could perhaps treat pimples. Medical News Today states that turmeric is thought of as a pain reliever. The spice is reputed to relieve arthritis pain as well. Studies seem to support turmeric for pain relief, with one study noting that it seemed to work as well as ibuprofen (Advil) in people with arthritis in their knees. “The spice is even being explored as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Turmeric is a highly versatile spice that can be added to meals in a range of ways, including: adding turmeric into spice mixtures such as curry or barbecue rub, making a homemade dressing using part oil, part vinegar, and seasonings including turmeric, and changing up your go-to marinades by adding turmeric.” Side effects Medical News Today emphasises that eating foods seasoned with curry can stimulate labor. Which is why pregnant women should avoid taking turmeric supplements because of its blood-thinning effects. Adding small amounts of turmeric to food as a spice should not cause health problems. Ntamanga states that turmeric usually doesn't cause serious side effects. Some people can experience mild side effects at higher doses. These mild side effects at higher doses may include; digestive issues. People may experience mild digestive issues such as bloating, acid reflux, flatulence, and diarrhea at daily doses exceeding 1,000. Other side effects he says could be skin rash. People have reported a skin rash after taking a dose of 8,000 mg of curcumin or more, though it’s not common. And additionally, headaches and nausea. Doses of 450 mg or higher may cause headache and nausea in a small number of people.