The world has suddenly “discovered” what Indians have known for more than 6,000 years – the medicinal and health-giving properties of Turmeric. This ancient gold-coloured spice, celebrated for thousands of years by Indians as both food and medicine, has resurfaced within the health and nutrition communities thanks to curcumin, the healing substance which is the source of its vibrant colour.
Turmeric has also become the most fashionable health statement for fitness freaks. Is there any whose day isn’t incomplete without a Turmeric Latte?
The golden herb has been used medicinally and for food for several million years in India. There are records of it in India’s ancient Ayurveda, an oral history of medicine, believed to have been written about 4,500 years ago. Supporting this are recent analyses of pots discovered near New Delhi, which uncovered residue from turmeric, ginger and garlic that dates back to at least 2,500 BC. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural healing that is still practiced today. Though it can now be found throughout the tropics, India was its earliest user and has been the largest producer of turmeric since ancient times.
So does this mean that those of us who use turmeric daily in our cooking are blessed with all its health-giving properties? Apparently not. Experts like medical entrepreneur Sathesh Roy say it is important to distinguish products of turmeric extract and curcumin, which are perceived to be the same when, in fact, curcumin is the active ingredient with the most important health benefits. As the founder of health extract GN Nano Curcumin Serum, Roy should know. “Curcumin is only present in 2.5 per cent of the turmeric plant so taking curcumin extracts presents a higher concentration and thus maximum benefits,” he says.
His company, which launched in February this year after more than 10 years of research, is the only water soluble curcumin extract available in the market. It contains 98 per cent pure curcumin extract and 2 per cent water without any other additives. As its brochure claims, it is “the natural scavenger of blood vessels.” Made according to a Swiss formula, Roy attributes the efficacy of his curcumin serum to techniques learnt in Switzerland where he studied nano-science for three years.
Born and raised in Singapore, Roy grew up in a family of chief healers in Ayurvedic medicine, with his great-great- grandfather, great-grandfather and grandfather having cured many ailments by harnessing the power of traditional herbs in treating a person by eliminating impurities, reducing symptoms, increasing resistance to disease, reducing worry, and increasing harmony in life.
In his early 30s Roy visited India but later met with an accident that left him with a severe injury to his arm. His family in his home village treated him with their knowledge of traditional medicine, including using turmeric.
After this life-changing event, where he experienced first-hand the properties and medicinal benefits that turmeric offers, Roy began reading and exploring the ancient palm scripts and old notes that had belonged to his family. With expert advice and guidance from the village elders on the different species of turmeric found in the forests of parts of India, he began experimenting with the various species and learnt how to blend them.
Initially, his findings had shown that some turmeric species decayed rapidly thus making the plant ineffective for medicinal use. It was only after many months of research and experimentation to overcome this obstacle when he chanced upon a new and upcoming “Nano Technology”, which could potentially isolate and extract active curcumin from turmeric.
Roy then spent the next three years at a research institute in Switzerland working on Research and Development. It took him two years to produce a sample of Nano Curcumin serum extract. In order to further prove its efficacy, he continued with in-house laboratory tests for another year in Switzerland.
After three years in Switzerland, he took samples of Nano Curcumin serum to Hawaii and USA for further patent trials. As the Nano Curcumin serum is pure plant extract, most patients in the trial were able to adapt to its effects. Within a few weeks, most of them had positive results and began to show signs of improvement in their health.
By late 2018, he had started sharing the Nano Curcumin serum with his friends and family in Singapore who also saw positive results. He has now launched it in Singapore.
Roy’s passage to success was hard fraught, with the young plant lover working several odd jobs at a time to collect enough money to pursue his dream of doing research in nano-technology in Switzerland. He laughs as he talks about his hard-scrabble days buying bread when they were half-priced and making do with a loaf and two bottles of water for a whole day. “I’m a very ordinary man, like anyone you see on the street. I used to wait till 9PM when bakeries would sell their breads cheaply. I’m not one of those scholars, I didn’t like school at all,” he laughs. But he had such a passion for plants that “I even used to eat grass and other plants to find out how they tasted,” he says.
Despite his early dislike of academia, Roy has achieved what many brilliant university graduates can only dream of – establish the first company in Singapore that makes such a high quality HACCP certified nano serum health supplement. It is early days yet says the entrepreneur who plans to do the same with other medicinal herbs. There are about 50 other herbs in the pipeline but his company is still in the process of studying their side-effects. “This is the most important aspect of our research,” says Roy who has already secured private funding of $3.5million, without losing his majority stake.
“We use the best of Eastern herbs and the best western techniques.” This, he says, ensures that 98 per cent of thehealing substance is imbibed by the body and nothing is wasted. In the case of powdered turmeric or fresh ground turmeric roots, the body absorbs only a small amount and wastage is higher than 75 per cent.
Roy’s GN Nano Curcumin Serum uses mainly Lakadong Turmeric from Meghalaya, India which is believed to be the best in the world.
The 43-year old third generation Singaporean who studied in St Andrews Junior College has been obsessed with plants since he was a child, probably influenced by the family tales his mother told him. “My mum told me I come from a very long line of Ayurveda healers – eight generations of them,” he says. He has visited his family’s ancestral village Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu where his great-great-great-grandfather’s medical tools have been kept intact.
Curcumin has significant anti-inflammatory properties that are said to rival those found in ibuprofen. Unlike over-the-counter drugs, turmeric has no toxic effects on the body.
The powerful antioxidant advantages of this spice have been shown to protect healthy cells, particularly those found in the colon, from cancer-causing agents. It aids the body in destroying mutated cancer cells before they have a chance to spread to other areas. Turmeric also helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, among a host of other beneficial properties.
The fun part of turmeric is its active ingredient – curcumin – has been proven to increase testosterone levels that can in turn increase a person’s libido.
According to historians, the origins of Ayurveda have been traced to around 6,000 BC when they originated as an oral tradition like much of ancient Indian knowledge. Some of the concepts of Ayurveda have existed since the times of the Indus Valley Civilization while the first recorded forms of Ayurveda as medical texts evolved from the Vedas.
Turmeric plays a part in many Indian dishes where its regular use both heals and protects. It is thought to have been introduced into cooking due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Even today most Indian fish marinades begin with a light coating of turmeric to rid the fish of any bacteria.