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Away from NRC tamasha, let us talk about the benefits of turmeric
Let us wait and watch how much benefit the RSS / BJP conglomerate is going to get out of the recent NRC episode. In a fight between nationalism, internal security and humanism, we must be on our guard. For our own survival we first must be strictly politically correct. The concept of 'all humanity is one family' can rest in books for the time being or we can cherry pick among those who suffer. I, for one, shall wait till the final NRC list is produced; the process is wound up and the action begins.

So, for today, let's talk about omnipresent turmeric herb or spice as you may call. It is the time when the freedom of speech is at stake.

Turmeric is vital component of most of the cuisines of Indian sub-continent. Far from being a part of everyday food, this magical spice has numerous therapeutic properties. It is also used as dye as well as a cosmetic herb. It is also used in major Indian religious ceremonies. To treat a serious leg injury, and another time, to counter the virulence of a dog-bite as a first aid, my grandma has twice swathed the wounds with hot turmeric paste spread on a hot roti. And the town-doctor declared that no further treatment was needed. All was well.

While travelling from Pune to Mahabaleshwar by road, we came across the beautiful fields of turmeric cultivation. India is a leading producer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Assam are some of the important states that cultivate turmeric, of which, Andhra Pradesh alone occupies 35.0 per cent of area and 47.0 per cent of production.

In the state of Maharashtra, Sangli district is known for the cultivation of this herb. Apart from the well-known politician late Vasant Dada Patil, Sangli is known as the Turmeric City of Maharashtra due to its production and trade of the spice. Sangli is situated on the banks of river Krishna and houses many sugar factories also.

An article by Vir Sanghvi about turmeric on the 29 July 2018 issue of 'Brunch' revived my childhood memories. At this ripe age of the fag end of sixties, having failed to put up with everyday killings shot on TV screens and newspapers, silence of New Mauni Babas and demagogy of politicians in the last few years, I felt helpless and fell victim of sleeplessness or sleep disorder. I was seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. An elderly apothecary suggested me to take warm milk with some turmeric power before going to bed. I followed the advice and there had been definite palpable positive results. The writer in 'Brunch' was informing about the recent popularity of turmeric in the Western world. According to him, they have developed the taste for turmeric lattes, turmeric tea, turmeric cookies, turmeric cold-pressed juices, turmeric shakes and turmeric spreads which are described as the potions to help improve memory, to lighten the mood, to make the skin glow, to fight arthritis, to delay the onset of diabetes, to detoxify the liver, to protect from cancer and to live longer. The scribe wonders that it is hard to tell where this fad has begun and how. He feels that it follows the standard pattern of all health fads.

I wish Baba Ramdev were not to read his article otherwise Vir Sanghvi's job could come under cloud and career in jeopardy. He might have to stand in queue with likes of Bobby Ghosh of Hindustan Times or Khandelkar, Prasun Joshi and Abhisar Sharma of ABP. I don't know how powerful and on which side of politics 'the House of Vicco Vajradanti wala' stand today. Vir Snghvi should be careful about that also. I, Naim Naqvi, a small time scribe of Merinews have no big stacks and nothing big to lose. I can stand anywhere. It may be on the road, in a field of sugarcane, a farm of turmeric or an orchard of mangoes.

Sanghvi advise us relating to the benefits of turmeric, "We are at a stage where the herd mentality has set in. The advocates of turmeric no longer need to explain why it is supposed to be for you. All they have to do is to invoke the Mystic East, talk about Ayurveda and the Indian connections. Indians recognise that Ayurveda makes use of most herbs and spices in one way or the other. So don't need to treat any one spice as superfood."

It brings back to my memory a 'Kachchi Haldi drink' at the entrance of 'Aaray Colony' in Mumbai East that I had once tolerated in the start of my morning walk some years ago. It took some time for my buds inside my mouth to recover their senses. I can't recall any health benefits – so sad.

However, to counter the argument of Vir Sanghvi and his likes, to be politically correct and to be on the just side of Ayurveda, I found another article about the history and benefits of turmeric based on scientific data. The article claims that turmeric is one of the world's ancient herbal medicines, which has been used in Asia for thousands of years. Today, medical professionals and herbal practitioners in various fields note turmeric's ability to treat and/or alleviate a number of different health conditions.

Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. In fact, the abundant spice contains over two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds. Curcumin, one of turmeric's most abundant compounds, has been noted in various studies for its excellent anti-inflammatory properties.

Of the many studies that have been conducted, one of the most prominent was published in the October 2007 issue of Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Dr. James Duke, a well-respected ethno-botanist summarized his findings in the July 2008 issue of the American Botanical Council. After reviewing over 700 studies, Duke concluded that turmeric effectively outperformed many pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for a variety of chronic, debilitative conditions, with no significant side effects.

Researchers at the American Cancer Society note that curcumin, a prevalent compound in turmeric: "interferes with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth and spread." "The activity of curcumin is reported against leukemia and lymphoma, gastrointestinal cancers, genitourinary cancers, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, lung cancer, melanoma, neurological cancers, and sarcoma reflects its ability to affect multiple targets.

A study performed at the University of Maryland Medical Center notes a variety of different conditions in which turmeric may be helpful, including indigestion and ulcerative colitis. Curcumin, a component of turmeric, stimulates bile production in the gallbladder, which is believed to help improve digestion. Turmeric serves as a potential safeguard against remission in those with ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease of the digestive tract with intermittent symptoms.

However, one noteworthy exception to the above benefits of turmeric is stomach ulcers. The researchers did not find any evidence of alleviation to this condition. In fact, turmeric is advised against for the condition, since it may increase the production of stomach acid.

According to researchers, curcumin aids by enhancing our ability to learn and process in different environments. Further, curcumin may assist with warding off neurodegenerative conditions – dementia disorders and Alzheimer's among them.

In a study by the University of Maryland, scientists came to this conclusion by observing curcumin's effective plaque-removal properties. Plaque buildup in the arteries can lead to a heart attack or stroke – a condition known as atherosclerosis.

Curcumin is also effective in reducing bad cholesterol known as LDL and preventing blood clots. One important note to the latter, turmeric may interact with certain blood-clot medications – make sure to seek a doctor's advice before supplementing turmeric in this case.

Because of turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties, it is believed to be effective at alleviating arthritis symptoms. Many health professionals subscribe to the notion that turmeric is more potently anti-inflammatory than many – if not most – other pharmaceutical and over-the-counter alternatives.

In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, rheumatoid arthritis patients who supplemented curcumin into their diets experienced a "reduction in tenderness" and a reduction in "Disease Activity" in numbers far-greater in proportion to those who did not.

So, here let me conclude – Turmeric is really good for us. I'm not an Ayurveda or Unani medicines advocate but I can't turn my back to science and reason just because I don't like Baba Ramdev or the like of his politics.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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