There are several benefits to using turmeric as an anti-inflammatory. The main benefit is price; turmeric is generally very cheap. Of secondary, but possibly equal, importance is its ease of availability. It is a common spice that can be manufactured and sold easily, even when packaged for medicinal use. Turmeric also has very few side effects, so it can be used a long time without harm to the body, except perhaps in a few sensitive individuals. It has also been found to be a potent anti-inflammatory.
Turmeric, or Curcuma Longa, is a relative of ginger. It is a long plant that is covered by a fibrous brown skin and grows up to 6 feet (about 1.8 meters) in height. The orange-yellow hue of its innards is what gives some mustards and curries their distinctive coloring and flavor. The active ingredient in turmeric is largely considered to be curcumin. In addition to having anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin also has a strong antioxidant effect.
The use of turmeric as an anti-inflammatory goes back several thousand years. It is primarily associated with India, as that is where most of it is grown, but it is also used in China for the same purpose. Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India, has used turmeric for thousands of years for a variety of anti-inflammatory diseases and other illnesses.
Most of the studies that have been done to check for the validity of turmeric as an anti-inflammatory, at least among Western studies, have been done with animals. As there have been positive results, more recently studies have been done on humans. Most have found that turmeric is an effective anti-inflammatory but also suggested that concentrated forms of the active ingredient curcumin are more effective.
Turmeric has been found to treat several diseases that are inflammatory in nature. Studies have suggested that it can help with inflammatory bowel disease, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It has been found to be comparable to some prescription anti-inflammatory medications as well as some over-the-counter drugs. Unlike those medications, turmeric does not seem to have significant side effects.
Despite the overall safety of using turmeric as an anti-inflammatory, at least when taken in its suggested dosage, it is not recommended for those with certain diseases, such as stomach ulcers. It is recommended to talk to a doctor if you have diabetes or gall bladder issues before taking turmeric. Women who are pregnant are recommended to refrain from taking supplemental strength turmeric, though using it as a spice is fine. There are several drugs that turmeric can interact with, so it is always recommended to check with a doctor when taking it with other medications.