A Cross Between Ginger and a Carrot


I woke up with the sunlight … and birds singing so loudly I thought they were in the room with me.

I walked out of my cottage to a warm breeze, and sat down to a delicious breakfast: fresh fruit, banana pancakes and a tall glass of jackfruit juice.

I made my way to my friends Westi and Lelir’s house, where he greeted me with a long “pick and hoe” garden cultivating tool. Westi said, “Ready?” smiling, holding out the long handle towards me.

We walked up the steep hill behind his home to his private herb garden. I wondered what we might harvest today.

He stopped in front of a row of very tall plants and smiled, “We can dig a few of these. For lunch.”

It was turmeric, the delicious root with lots of health benefits. I began digging around it, careful not to damage the cluster of roots in the ground. After a moment the root came up easily and I shook off the dirt and lay them on the ground.

The first thing that strikes me about turmeric is that it looks like a cross between ginger and a carrot. Your fingers turn orange immediately as soon as you touch the root.

Turmeric has a brownish-reddish outer layer, while ginger is white with a touch of purple when you dig it up. Peel off or cut through turmeric and you’ll see a rich orange color like a carrot or sweet potato.

The strongest component of turmeric is curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.

One of the most important benefits of curcumin is how it helps improve blood flow to your whole body.

Poor blood flow can lead to high blood pressure, poor sexual performance, even Alzheimer’s disease. Decreased blood flow can also contribute to stroke, hardening of the arteries, and kidney disease.

Curcumin can protect your entire cardiovascular system. It even improves the bioavailability of the metabolic regulator nitric oxide, the molecule that signals your blood vessels to relax for greater blood flow.1

If you have blood sugar problems like diabetes or even pre-diabetes, it can lead to reduced blood flow as well. Curcumin has been used for centuries by traditional Balinese healers to lower blood sugar for people with diabetes, improving their blood flow, too.2

Male potency problems are another result of reduced blood flow. Drug companies would like you to believe that their drugs are the only remedy for the problem of ED… yet when they tested curcumin against Cialis for just this purpose, curcumin was much more effective than the drug Cialis. Curcumin improves blood flow and nitric oxide levels in the blood, and is more effective and lasts longer than their lab-created drug.3

And, if you’ve gone through or are going through menopause, you already know that it reduces blood flow throughout your body. This is one of the reasons why menopause reduces libido, and it makes menopausal women at higher risk for cardiac events.

When there’s a risk for heart problems, most mainstream doctors immediately try to prescribe a statin drug. Yet curcumin is better for your heart and improving blood flow. One study found that curcumin was equal to exercise for improving blood flow in post-menopausal women.4

Turmeric comes in many forms, and they all have curcumin in them.

An easy way to get it is to visit an Indian specialty shop. I have one near my home in South Florida. That makes it easy for me to drop in and pick up fresh turmeric root and curcumin. Plus, it’s such a pleasant experience walking through the door. The pungent spices sort of make you feel like you’ve been on a trip far away.

You can buy turmeric in conventional ground form, or whole. I cut up turmeric root and put it in stir fry dishes and stews. I put ground curcumin in soups and cooked vegetables. I try to use some every day because of the benefits.

If you’re going to buy it ground, make sure it’s all curcumin and not just some of the root ground up with curry.

Pure curcumin is available in a supplement. Most are low quality and either aren’t absorbed very well or pass through your system too quickly. So to get more bang for your buck, get a curcumin supplement that contains piperine, a black pepper extract that increases its absorbency.

Also, remember that the curcumin is the main beneficial component of turmeric root, so look for at least 90% or greater curcuminoids, whichever formula you use.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD

1. Boonla O, et. al. “Curcumin improves endothelial dysfunction and vascular remodeling in 2K-1C hypertensive rats by raising nitric oxide availability and reducing oxidative stress.” Nitric Oxide. 2014;pii: S1089-8603(14)00294-8. 2. Meng B, Li J, Cao H. “Antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities of curcumin on diabetes mellitus and its complications.” Curr Pharm Des. 2013;19(11):2101-13. 3. Abdel Aziz M, Rezq A, Atta H, Fouad H, Zaahkouk A, Ahmed H, Sabry D, Yehia H. “Molecular signalling of a novel curcumin derivative versus Tadalafil in erectile dysfunction.” Andrologia. 2014 Jul 25. Epub ahead of print. 4. Akazawa N, Choi Y, Miyaki A, Tanabe Y, Sugawara J, Ajisaka R, Maeda S. “Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women.” Nutr Res. 2012;32(10):795-9.