The war against supplements
has been going on for a long, long time. Each year Congress floats a bill aimed to regulate them out of existence, and each year those of us who really care about our health manage to prevail. Every few weeks we're treated to some fear-
mongering headline about the dangers of supplements while the very real perils of prescription drugs are glossed over.
For every news story about their benefits, there are two quoting pharma-backed "experts" who caution that "we need more research" in spite of a huge body of evidence. They tell us to "talk to our doctor"
first — and we all know the doctor will choose drugs and surgery every time. There's a real concerted effort to keep us confused and in the dark.
This supplement could replace half of Big Pharma's drugs
Why do they want us confused about supplements?
Because supplements cost Big Pharma money
. Healthy people don't need or want their drugs
. And people who are educated about supplements and their health are much less likely to become lifelong "consumers" of Big Pharma's pills. So the war is on against supplements, and the more helpful they are the stronger the push-back from Big Pharma.
That's where I come in.
My goal is to find the real facts and pass them on to you, without the hype. If it works, I'll tell you. And if it doesn't, I'll tell you that too. I'll tell you if we really need more research, or if that's just Big Medicine toeing the pharma party line.
So today I want to tell you about something that works. We do need more research, because we've only touched the edges of what it might be able to do; it works so well that Big Pharma would like to turn it into a drug, if they could just find a way to patent nature. It's a blood thinner. It cuts your risk of heart attack and save you from heart failure. It stops plaque build-up in your arteries and shrinks enlarged hearts.
It's an anti-inflammatory. It lowers your blood sugar
. It helps arthritis. It even looks like it might stop some cancers in their tracks. It might be helpful in treating Alzheimer's too. And it's available at health food stores and supermarkets across the country for mere pennies.
I'm talking about turmeric, the golden spice that gives curry powder its color.
Goodbye aspirin, statins, and more
Turmeric has been used in Eastern medicine for years. It's a staple of Ayurveda — one of the oldest medical systems in the world. Here in the West it's commonly used as a natural coloring in foods and as one of the ingredients in curry powder. It's only recently that Western science has started to take a serious look at the healing powers of this potent herb, and what it's found has been astounding.
Here I need to make a disclaimer: many of the studies so far have been done in animals. However, so far all the human trials have reproduced the results of the animal studies. And the results are pretty impressive.
Turmeric reduces fatty deposits in arteries by more than a quarter. This is the plaque associated with heart attacks and strokes. A 2009 French study found that mice given curcumin, the most active ingredient in turmeric, had 26% less plaque buildup than those who weren't. The truly amazing thing was that it appeared to stop plaque from forming at the molecular level, by altering the signaling of genes.
It prevents and even reverses enlargement of the heart. An enlarged heart often goes hand in hand with chronic high blood pressure, and is a hallmark of congestive heart failure. An enlarged heart also leads to heart attacks. Curcumin reduces scar formation — which could be helpful in reducing the damage to the heart from a heart attack.
Heart attacks kill cardiac muscle and result in scar formation. This weakens the heart muscle and makes it work harder. Reducing scarring would be a huge benefit. And once again it seems to work on a molecular level, affecting a switch in the chromosome of the cell itself.
Turmeric has been shown to be an effective blood thinner — without the side effects of those currently in use. It's also a potent anti-inflammatory, which makes it a powerful tool for fighting not just heart disease but also diabetes and arthritis. A study published in the journal Oncongene found curcumin to be many times more effective than aspirin or ibuprofen at fighting inflammation.
Is this truly a "miracle drug"?
I'm very hesitant to use this phrase. It usually equates to snake oil. But in the case of turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, the evidence really does suggest almost endless uses. It appears to be more effective than the most common diabetes drugs at improving insulin sensitivity. It was as effective as conventional treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. It works as a painkiller, and as an antidepressant. And even the anti-cancer claim isn't blown out of proportion. According to the American Cancer Society:
"Laboratory studies have also shown that curcumin interferes with cancer development, growth, and spread. Researchers have reported that curcumin blocked the formation of cancer-causing enzymes in rodents. Recently, curcumin has received a great deal of focus because of it's ability to reduce tumor size and kill cancer cells."
That's truly amazing.
The heart benefits alone make it worth trying — the other effects are an added bonus. So how much should you take?
Recommended dosage is 400-600 mg three times per day. Although few people have reported side effects, it can occasionally cause mild stomach upset. There is some concern that extremely high doses may cause liver toxicity, although the evidence isn't definitive. If you have liver disease or are taking a prescription drug that's hard on your liver, turmeric probably isn't for you. It also stimulates the gallbladder, so if you have gallstones use it with caution.
Turmeric is a great illustration of why we shouldn't dismiss "folk remedies" and treatments from non-Western systems such as Ayurveda and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) out of hand. While Big Pharma spends years and billions researching treatment for the modern plagues, the answer may be right under our noses.
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*There's no guarantee of specific results. Results can vary.