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If you’re a curry connoisseur, you know that turmeric (Curcuma longa) is the key spice that gives the Indian dish its zing. Turmeric is also what makes American mustard yellow. In addition to its flavor, turmeric is also gaining popularity as a medicinal, anti-inflammatory herb.

Inflammation is our immune system’s response to a foreign or harmful stimulus. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to a variety of health conditions – from arthritis to inflammatory bowel disease, cancer to obesity. There is growing scientific evidence that turmeric’s active ingredient – curcumin – has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, one reason traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have long used it for arthritis pain and indigestion, also known as dyspepsia.

For these stomach conditions take 500 mg capsules of turmeric four times daily. For osteoarthritis, take 500mg capsules twice daily. The supplements should contain black pepper or piperine for top effectiveness.

You can also add the spice to smoothies or make it into turmeric tea. Boil four cups of water, add one teaspoon of ground turmeric, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the tea and add lemon or sweetener to taste. Freshly grated turmeric gives you more of a flavor kick and the root is becoming increasingly available at food markets.

As with any supplement, check with your physician before beginning any regimen. Supplements can have side effects for people with certain medical conditions. For example, avoid turmeric if you are taking medications like warfarin that increase the chances of bleeding or have a stomach ulcer.

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