Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory properties that are used to treat digestive illness such as diarrhea, stomach bloating and liver problems. It is also an antioxidant that is used to treat various pain and emotional conditions, including headaches, depression, menstrual problems and cancer.
Turmeric root contains a compound known as curcumin that is responsible for the plant's many health benefits. A study of curcumin found that curcumin extract lowered the risk of heart attacks by up to 65 percent in bypass patients. Thirty percent of study participants who did not take curcumin following bypass surgery experienced a heart attack.
As a digestive treatment, turmeric root increases the production of bile in the gallbladder to help digest the fat in foods. In individuals with ulcerative colitis, a reoccurring inflammatory bowel disease, curcumin pills extend the period of remission. It is also applied to the skin as a topical treatment for inflammatory skin conditions, including bruises and leech bites.
Turmeric’s antioxidant properties also help to fight cancer. Early studies performed in animals show that curcumin blocks the spread and growth of cancer cells. Curcumin further showed an ability to improve the therapeutic effect of chemotherapy. However, further studies are needed to determine its efficacy in humans.