Herbal supplements are no longer just for the most serious wellness fanatics. Today, nearly 80% of the world’s population is consuming them. In the U.S. alone, nearly $7.5 billion was spent on botanical remedies in 2016. That’s the 13th year of steady sales increases for herbal supplements.
Perhaps no two herbal supplements have shot to fame as much this year as ginger and turmeric. Supplements high in turmeric witnessed close to $50 million sales in 2016. Ginger has made the Top 10 list of herbal ingredients in America yet again.
So what’s all the buzz about? Here’s a quick primer on the health benefits of turmeric and ginger, two of the most widely studied herbal supplements.
The lowdown on ginger
For thousands of years, ginger has been used in Asia to treat nausea and stomach cramps. Ancient Roman, Arabic and Greek texts also list this herb for its medicinal value—and for good reason. Keeping your immune system in order is vital to good health, and ginger can give you an immunity boost in a number of ways.
- Antioxidant boost: The substance gingerol that’s present in ginger contains antioxidant properties. This helps in the development of new blood vessels and cell cycle regulation. One in-vitro study proved that ginger may have anti-Alzheimer benefits; ginger has been used in ancient medicine to treat cognitive issues. The antioxidants in ginger help keep the number of free radicals in your body in check.
- Anti-inflammatory powers: If you exercise on a regular basis, ginger’s anti-inflammatory nature will help reduce muscle pain. When you consume ginger, your immune system gets a boost thanks to the shogaol found in the root. T-cells are the soldiers of your body, sent out to destroy cells infected with viruses and tumors. Ginger also has the ability to activate T-cells, in turn improving your immune system considerably.
- Cancer cell combat: Various studies have pointed to ginger’s anti-cancer possibilities. Gingerol has anti-tumor effects that, in turn, could suppress the growth of some cancer cells. Shogaol can also reduce the capability of gastric cancer cells.
- Foreign substance control: Whenever we pop an antibiotic pill, foreign substances enter our body, which can cause harmful effects in the long run. Ginger has shown to be able to help with xenobiotic detoxification, a process that tackles these foreign substances so our immune system can stay running without a hitch.
Heat-treated ginger, ginger root capsules or fresh ginger are your best options for a healthy dose of antioxidants.
The many benefits of turmeric
Despite what scary headlines about inflammation may have you believe, this process isn’t always bad. Acute inflammation helps the body fight pathogens and repair itself. The problems arise when chronic inflammation sets in. A number of degenerative conditions, metabolic syndrome and even heart disease are caused by chronic inflammation. That’s exactly where turmeric comes into the picture.
From Victoria Beckham to Sir Michael Caine, celebrities have taken to turmeric in a big way. In India, turmeric is a superstar spice; the herb has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and rightfully so. Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is also a healthy antioxidant.
- Fights inflammation: Curcumin can be as effective as certain anti-inflammatory drugs. And as if that weren’t enough, curcumin also fights anti-inflammation at a molecular level. This ingredient is even known to regulate the immune system when it’s facing complications.
- Antioxidant powers: Oxidative damage caused by free radicals expedites the aging process and can trigger the onset of many diseases. Curcumin not only works as an antioxidant, but also influences the body’s antioxidant enzymes to kick in.
- Cardiovascular health: Atorvastatin, also known as Lipitor, is a common prescription drug for cardiovascular disease. Curcuminoids are known to be as effective as this pharma drug. Somewhere down the line, turmeric extracts, along with other herbal antioxidants, could pave the way for an all-natural solution to heart complications.
- Alzheimer’s fighter: Once the immune system is adversely affected, a number of diseases will pop up. Curcumin has been linked to fighting Alzheimer’s as well as some forms of cancer.
- Anti-aging: It’s pretty common knowledge that our immune system’s defensive powers drop as we age. Curcumin can step in and help with age-related complications. While it may not make you look 18 again, it can play a role in helping you stay fit as you cross into middle age.
- Sports nutrition applications: Curcumin supplements are slowly creeping into the sports nutritional segment. Regular gym-goers and athletes are super-conscious of what they consume and curcumin, a natural extract, is garnering their attention. A study found that a certain curcumin product improved muscle recovery and blood flow among moderately-trained participants. While hemp and soy powders are hugely popular, curcumin sports supplements might just be the next big thing.
The curcumin content of turmeric spice doesn’t go above 3%, so to reap these full benefits, turmeric extracts are the way to go. If you’re looking for a turmeric supplement, pick one that contains bioperine. This piperine extract increases the level of curcumin absorption by a whopping 2000%.
Herbal supplements are here to stay. And as more Americans embrace herbal supplements, ones backed by science will continue to separate themselves from the pack. Few herbs have been more studied than turmeric and ginger, which should give you peace of mind that when it comes to these supplements, you’re making a smart choice.