Roots 101: The Basics

Here's a quick primer on the science behind the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, ginger and beets.

Why Turmeric?

Turmeric, a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant (Curcuma longa) in the ginger family, is the major source of the polyphenol curcumin.

Curcumin (1,7-bis(4-hydroxy-3methoxyphenyl)-1,6-heptadien-3,5- dione) is also known diferuloylmethane is yellowish polyphenol.

Traditionally, turmeric is used in Asian countries as a medicinal herb for numerous pathologies due to its anti-radical, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-microbial, and anti-cancer activities [1].

Did we mention it's also delicious?!

In India, turmeric—containing curcumin—it's used in curries; in Japan, it's served in tea; in Thailand, it's used in cosmetics; in China, it's used as a colorant; in Korea, it's served in drinks; in Malaysia, it's used as an antiseptic; in Pakistan, it's used as an anti-inflammatory agent; and in the United States, it's used in mustard sauce, cheese, butter, and chips, and as a preservative and a colouring agent.

Due to its recognized benefit, we're now seeing turmeric in capsules, tablets, ointments, energy drinks, soaps, and cosmetics.

Curcuminoids have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) [2].

Good tolerability and safety profiles have been shown by clinical trials, even at doses between 4000 and 8000 mg/day and of doses up to 12,000 mg/day of 95% concentration of three curcuminoids: curcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, and demethoxycurcumin [3].

Why Ginger?

The spice ginger is the underground rhizome of the ginger plant, known botanically as Zingiber officinale. The plant's botanical name is thought to be derived from its Sanskrit name singabera which means "horn shaped," a physical characteristic that ginger reflects.

Ginger is very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress and an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract).

A review of six double-blind, randomized controlled trials with a total of 675 participants, published in the April 2005 issue of the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, has confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy [4].

Ginger also contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols.  A study published in the November 2003 issue of Life Sciences suggests that at least one reason for ginger's beneficial effects is the free radical protection afforded by one of its active phenolic constituents, 6-gingerol. In this in vitro (test tube) study, 6-gingerol was shown to significantly inhibit the production of nitric oxide, a highly reactive nitrogen molecule that quickly forms a very damaging free radical called peroxynitrite.

A study published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine sheds further light on the mechanisms of action that underlie ginger's anti-inflammatory effectiveness. In this research, ginger was shown to suppress the pro-inflammatory compounds (cytokines and chemokines) produced by synoviocytes (cells comprising the synovial lining of the joints), chrondrocytes (cells comprising joint cartilage) and leukocytes (immune cells).

Why Beets?

Beets are a rich source of dietary nitrates, which your body can convert to nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide (NO) is bioactive in tissues and blood and induces several physiological mechanisms that influences O2 utilization during exercise.


  1. Curcumin and health. Molecules, 21(3), 264.
  2. Gupta, S.C.; Patchva, S.; Aggarwal, B.B. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. AAPS J. 2013, 15, 195–218.
  3. Lao, C.D.; Ruffin, M.T.; Normolle, D.; Heath, D.D.; Murray, S.I.; Bailey, J.M.; Boggs, M.E.; Crowell, J.; Rock, C.L.; Brenner, D.E. Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation. BMC Complement. Altern. Med. 2006, 6, 10.
  4. Effectiveness and Safety of Ginger in the Treatment of Pregnancy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting. Borrelli, Francesca PhD*; Capasso, Raffaele PharmD*; Aviello, Gabriella PharmD*; Pittler, Max H. MD, PhD†; Izzo, Angelo A. PhD*.Obstetrics & Gynecology: April 2005 - Volume 105 - Issue 4 - p 849-856

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