Turmeric is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after spices in the world. Between 2013 and 2017, turmeric was ranked as the top-selling herbal supplement in the United States. One of the reasons why people take turmeric is its ability to improve their quality of sleep. But does turmeric make you sleepy? Read on to find out.
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Turmeric is the root of a flowering plant known as Curcuma longa, which belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. This plant produces rhizomes (roots) that are usually powdered and added to foods and drinks as a spice. The turmeric plant is perennial, herbaceous, and rhizomatous.
It’s predominantly found in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia where temperatures range between 20 and 30 °C (68 and 86 °F). These regions also receive a considerable amount of rainfall annually, making them the ideal place for turmeric plants to thrive. Turmeric rhizomes are gathered annually for consumption and propagation in the subsequent seasons.
You can use the rhizomes fresh or boil them in water and dry them in the sun, after which you pound them into powder. This powder can be used for food coloring and flavoring. Many Asian cuisines have turmeric as the main flavoring agent. The main component of turmeric is curcumin.
Curcumin is a diarylheptanoid that belongs to the curcuminoid family. It’s the phenolic pigments responsible for the yellow color of turmeric. Turmeric powder has a warm, bitter flavor that’s almost similar to that of black pepper. But turmeric’s aroma is quite earthy and mustard-like.
Turmeric has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the European Parliament as a food additive. While there isn’t enough clinical evidence to prove the medicinal value of turmeric, this herbal supplement has been long used to produce Ayurvedic medicine, where it’s commonly referred to as haridra.
Additionally, turmeric contains other bioactive compounds like turmerin, which is a water-soluble peptide, and essential oils like turmerones, zingiberene, and atlantones. Curcumin is a phenolic compound with strong anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. This compound also acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your body against free radicals that cause premature aging.
Curcumin has been found to have the ability to inhibit various cell signaling conduits at different levels, influence cellular enzymes (COX and glutathione S-transferases), influence angiogenesis and cell-cell adhesion, and modulate immune role.
Additionally, this compound can influence macrophage infiltration and nuclear factor activation, and minimize the expression of various pro-inflammatory compounds like tumor necrosis factor, plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1.
Turmeric and curcumin are also used in treating various conditions, including inflammatory diseases, immune problems, cognitive dysfunction, heart disease, cancer, mental health, and arthritis.
Does Turmeric Help You Sleep?
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Many factors influence your sleep, including your brain chemicals, lifestyle, diet, and other aspects of life. However, scientists have also discovered a direct correlation between immune system conditions, inflammations, and sleep. Studies have also suggested that cytokines can give a conclusive answer to this correlation.
A cytokine is a type of regulatory glycoprotein that acts as an intercellular chemical messenger of the immune system. This glycoprotein is known to promote sleep. However, there are some types of cytokines that can disrupt your sleep patterns.
The hormones, inflammatory markers, and cytokines associated with sleep display diurnal variation thus impacting your levels of sleep, especially when you don’t get enough sleep. One of the main types of cytokines that induce sleep is known as interleukin (IL) – 6. This compound usually increases at night, inducing fatigue.
However, with sleep constraints, the inflammatory cytokines like IL-1β, IL-17, and IL-6 increase, resulting in sleep deprivation. Studies have also revealed that prolonged lack of sleep (over 34 hours) increases the level of the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) 5.
Therefore, herbal therapies like the use of turmeric in addressing insomnia and other sleep disorders involve a multi-faceted methodology designed to modulate cytokines, manage neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation, and re-regulate the immune system.
That’s how turmeric and curcumin become useful. Although these compounds may not have a similar effect on your sleep to that of melatonin and other natural sleep supplements, they have a very powerful effect on dealing with many of the fundamental imbalances in your body that cause sleep disruption.
For instance, curcumin, which gives turmeric powder its yellow color, is a powerful cytokine modulator with the ability to down-regulate the expression of various pro-inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-a, IL-1, IL-8, and IL-2. It does this by inactivating the transcription factor, nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB). The NF-kB factor also prevents the stimulation of the two pro-inflammatory compounds: iNOS and COX-2.
This means that you can combine your turmeric supplements with adaptogenic herbs, analgesics, and immunomodulators to modulate levels of cytokines and make you sleepy.
Unfortunately, turmeric and curcumin must be paired with bio-enhancers to increase uptake because of their low bioavailability. For instance, you can combine turmeric with piperine, an active compound of black pepper, to enhance turmeric’s bioavailability.
This combination can increase turmeric’s bioavailability by about 2,000 percent. With the right combination of turmeric and a bio-enhancer, you can easily deal with the pain caused by inflammatory diseases like arthritis and sports injuries. Sometimes this pain can be so intense that it prevents you from enjoying your sleep.
So, by suppressing this pain, your turmeric supplements will improve the quality of your sleep, allowing you to fall asleep easily. This supplement will support your active joints, keeping you comfortable and limber during the day and at night when you need to fall asleep. So, yes it’s true that turmeric can make you sleepy if you combine it with the right bio-enhancer.
How to Consume Turmeric Daily
You can add turmeric to your daily routine in various ways. For instance, you can sprinkle it on your food as a spice. This herb can be heavenly when used in popular cuisines like curry dishes because it gives them an extra zesty finish. If you don’t like spicy food, you can still include turmeric in your everyday routine by taking it as a supplement.
Turmeric supplements are more convenient because they won’t leave a bitter taste in your mouth because they come in the form of capsules and tablets that you can just take with water like ordinary medicine. The only problem with turmeric supplements is that you’re likely to forget to take them. So, you have to remind yourself constantly to take your supplements at the right time.
Also, make sure the supplements you take don’t have excess anti-caking elements and fillers because they can easily prevent absorption and cause other serious health problems. Alternatively, you can drink turmeric tea regularly alongside common bio-enhancers like black pepper. This increases your body’s absorption and utilization of the curcumin compound in turmeric.
You can also combine your turmeric tea with ginger or schisandra berries to boost your relaxation, anti-inflammatory effect, and overall wellness. This tea is good for your post-workout recovery therapy as it helps your muscles and joints to heal thus reducing the pain caused by intense workouts. Consequently, your whole body can relax, allowing you to fall asleep quickly.