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Q: I keep hearing that turmeric is good for you. Is this true, or just a myth?

Turmeric is a relative of the ginger plant. While you can find dried, ground turmeric in powdered form as well as in capsules and extracts, it is also grown fresh here in Hawaii, where it is also called ‘olena.

Turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and western medicine is also starting to study its health benefits. Recently, there have been a number of scientific studies that have found turmeric may indeed be good for your health. Several studies have found that turmeric is good for your immune system, and has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, and can be beneficial for inflammatory conditions like arthritis. It can also help support healthy liver function and is being studied as a way to help digestive disorders, and even as something that can help with cancer treatment (although more research needs to be done).

Turmeric also has some negative side effects. It has a bitter taste, and some people find that it upsets their stomach when taken in large amounts. Some studies have also found that it can interfere with blood-thinning drugs, or make you bleed more easily.

While you should always talk to your doctor before trying an alternative therapy, and be sure to ask about possible medication interactions, for many people, it seems like turmeric can offer real health benefits.

Andrea De Roode
Clinical Dietitian