Nowadays, we find turmeric on every corner. In addition to numerous dishes, the golden spice recently also refines teas, coffees, and smoothies.
And for a good reason. The humble turmeric root is packed with health benefits ranging from boosting brain power to alleviating depression to inducing radiant skin.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric root is native to Southeast Asia and belongs to the ginger family. Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine has used the root as an herbal remedy for thousands of years.
There, this great spice is even used to treat a variety of diseases.
Does Turmeric Have Health Benefits?
In the last 20 years alone, over 6000 scientific studies have been conducted by experts that can prove the health benefits of turmeric (Prasad et al. 20141).
Curcumin is the bioactive substance that is the main active ingredient in turmeric root. Besides, it gives turmeric powder its bright yellow color.
For example, the positive effects of curcumin include the alleviation of:
- Joint pain
- Stomach upsets
With this in mind, we’ll take a detailed look at the explicit benefits of consuming turmeric for your health shortly.
How Much Turmeric for Health Benefits?
It is difficult to overeat the natural root. However, if you take turmeric as a dietary supplement, unhealthy amounts can be reached.
Studies looking at turmeric as part of Ayurvedic medicine suggest you should eat 500 to 2,000 mg of turmeric per day to reap the health benefits (Amalraj et al. 20162).
15 Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin
Turmeric and curcumin (turmeric extract) have a long history of treating various ailments, especially inflammatory diseases.
Thereby, the origin of many health benefits of turmeric lies in its antioxidant properties.
1. The Root Offers Antioxidant Properties
Due to its curcuminoids, the turmeric root exerts special anti-inflammatory effects.
Because of these antioxidant properties, Ayurvedic medicine has used turmeric for centuries (Nagpal et al. 20133).
When you consider its ORAC value of over 127000, you may imagine why turmeric can offer so many health benefits.
Against this background, ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) stands for the ability to render free oxygen radicals harmless.
Free radicals are extra oxygen molecules that can cause damage to the tissues they are contacting.
Curcuminoids are not only over five times more potent at scavenging free radicals than vitamins C and E, but they can also scavenge the hydroxyl free radical, which is considered the most reactive (Menon et al. 20074).
Thus, curcumin can fight diseases from bronchitis to insulin resistance and even slow down the aging process.
2. Curcumin May Protect Your Liver
The antioxidant effect of turmeric appears to be so strong that it can protect the liver from damage caused by toxins (Lee et al. 20165).
Hence, the root may especially help people with diabetes and other people who regularly take strong medications.
In addition, according to recent studies, curcumin is a promising agent against non-alcoholic fatty liver, which is a significant pre-disease of type 2 diabetes (White et al. 20196).
3. It’s a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agent
According to studies, bioactive curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties of medical-grade without possessing undesirable side effects (Lao et al. 20067).
Since chronic inflammation is a significant driver of modern diseases, this property has merit. For example, these include chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Although curcumin is a very potent natural anti-inflammatory compound, it is difficult to absorb by the body.
For this reason, any dish, drink, or a dietary supplement containing turmeric should contain black pepper.
Since there is piperine in black pepper, this allows the human body to absorb curcumin 20 times more efficiently (Shoba et al. 19988).
Against this background, human studies now also confirm the anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin (Chainani-Wu 20039).
4. Turmeric Benefits Support Radiant Skin
Curcumin can protect the skin by scavenging free radicals and reducing the risk of inflammation.
Treating the skin with curcumin also improved following conditions in the same study (Thangapazham et al. 200710):
- Wound healing time
- Collagen deposition
- Fibroblast and vascular density in wounds
Moreover, other clinical studies suggest that curcumin may treat a variety of dermatological conditions. For example, these include (Vaughn et al. 201611):
- Atopic dermatitis
- Oral lichen planus (OLP)
- Photoaging (sun-induced skin aging) of the face
While current evidence suggests that the use of turmeric in dermatology is promising, more research is needed to confirm recent results (Vollono et al. 201912).
5. Turmeric Extract Benefits Hair Growth in Men
In addition to the texture of the skin, turmeric can likewise improve hair growth.
A study with 86 men came to this conclusion. In addition, the use of turmeric extract significantly inhibited hair loss and increased hair growth (Pumthong et al. 201213).
However, if turmeric is left on the hair for too long, it can harden it to be pulled out. For this reason, some women use it as a natural hair removal paste.
Thus, a study including 60 women, which applied turmeric oil to the participants’ forearms for ten weeks, confirmed these properties.
In doing so, the researchers found that turmeric oil reduced or slowed hair growth on the tested area and lightened the skin (Srivilai et al. 201714).
6. The Root Reduces Cardiovascular Risk
Nothing plagues our Western world more than heart disease, which is favored by established dietary habits.
Accordingly, a large percentage of causes of death are due to cardiovascular ailments.
- Improves vascular function
- Lowers blood pressure
- Prevents heart attacks and strokes
7. Curcumin May Alleviate Pain
After we sit a lot in our daily lives and constantly face psychological stress, pain disorders are becoming more and more common.
Fortunately, the active ingredient in turmeric root can provide relief.
Curcumin not only reduces pain and swelling of joints in rheumatoid arthritis but also (Chandran et al. 201218):
- Bone and muscle pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Menstrual pain
8. The Root Offers Antibacterial Properties
In the context of the current coronavirus pandemic, the health benefits of turmeric are very welcome.
After the essential active ingredient curcumin has antibacterial and antiviral activity, it can help against infections (Moghadamtousi et al. 201419).
For this reason, the root is also used in Ayurvedic medicine, for example, as a home remedy against flu.
9. Turmeric Benefits Support Weight Loss
Results of a recent study show that curcumin can help reduce the growth of fat cells.
The researchers found that the anti-inflammatory properties in curcumin effectively suppress the inflammatory processes of obesity. Thus, turmeric may help reduce the adverse health effects of obesity (Bradford et al. 201320).
Moreover, scientists have shown that the combination of curcumin and piperine helps people lose weight who have previously been unsuccessful in doing so (Di Pierro et al. 201521).
10. Curcumin Can Boost Your Immune System
According to studies, the essential active ingredient curcumin modulates the immune system in a way that counteracts the following diseases (Jagetia et al. 200724):
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
11. Turmeric Benefits Improve Gut Health
Turmeric can improve fat digestion by increasing bile production in the liver by up to 62% (Dulbecco et al. 201325).
For this reason, turmeric can help people who are just starting a ketogenic diet and have difficulty digesting the more significant amounts of healthy fats in the diet.
Ultimately, turmeric may even help people with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory digestive disorder, to improve their digestion again (Hanai et al. 200626).
Moreover, a red-hot study suggests that curcumin can regulate intestinal flora directly (Pluta et al. 202027).
In this context, researchers say the active ingredient can influence the “gut-brain-microflora axis.” Thus, the gut microbiome and its composition may maintain and improve brain health.
12. Curcumin Is a Promising Anti-Cancer Agent
According to numerous studies, curcumin can prevent cancer and inhibit tumor growth (Takada et al. 200428).
Moreover, some scientists even state that curcumin can kill cancer cells (Ravindran et al. 200929).
Nevertheless, home remedies such as turmeric tea cannot replace individual professional treatments.
13. Turmeric Benefits May Protect Your Brain
Curcumin can increase the release of neuronal growth hormone BDNF, which is responsible for forming new neurons in the brain (Xu et al. 200630).
Therefore, studies state that turmeric helps prevent the following neurodegenerative diseases (Monroy et al. 201431):
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
Due to curcumin’s ability to eliminate accumulations of plaque, it can prevent such diseases.
Therefore, research even suggests that curcumin may reverse age-related impairments in brain function.
14. Curcumin Offers Anti-Depressant Properties
The positive effect of curcumin on the brain may alleviate stress and depression in addition to neurodegenerative diseases (Mishra et al. 200832).
Thus, the essential active ingredient of the root may reduce anxiety and improve mental health (Hurley et al. 201333).
However, these properties are again due to the increased BDNF release (Kulkarni et al. 200834).
Likewise, a randomized controlled trial in people with major depressive disorder states that turmeric is a safe and effective remedy for such conditions (Sanmukhani et al. 201435).
15. Turmeric May Help With Diabetes
Diabetic neuropathy is typical damage to nerves due to a diabetic condition. Since this ailment can occur throughout the whole body in people with diabetes, it can lead to everything from muscle weakness to blindness.
According to an animal study, curcumin can significantly relieve pain in the legs, arms, and hands caused by neuropathy (Banafshe et al. 201436).
Accordingly, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials confirmed that curcumin protects the kidneys of animals from the damage of diabetic nephropathy (Wu et al. 201437).
Even more interesting, curcumin has properties that could replace diabetes medications.
With this in mind, one study found that the compound can lower blood glucose levels 400 times more effective than the most common diabetes drug, metformin (Kim et al. 200938).
Similar to the drug, curcumin inhibits the production of new glucose in the liver (gluconeogenesis).
Turmeric Side Effects
Turmeric is generally considered safe to consume without serious side effects.
Nevertheless, some people may experience the following isolated side effects:
- Stomach upset
However, these are side effects caused mainly by excessive consumption. Without the additional intake of turmeric supplements, excessive dosages are difficult to achieve.
For example, high doses can also promote gallstones and kidney stones due to the oxalates in turmeric. If you are or may be pregnant, taking turmeric in medicinal doses is not recommended.
Although this is rare, there is also the possibility that people may be allergic to turmeric.
Turmeric Health Benefits Are More Than a Fad
Turmeric undoubtedly ranks among the best plant foods when it comes to health.
It has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine and other traditional forms of therapy.
In any case, turmeric’s health benefits are astounding, ranging from the brain to the gut to skin and hair.
In addition, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can improve the overall quality and expectation of life.
Remember to add black pepper to turmeric dishes since it boosts curcumin’s bioavailability.
Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin FAQ
What are the benefits of taking turmeric?
Turmeric creates glowing skin, has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-depressant, and blood-pressure-lowering effects.
How much turmeric should you take a day?
Up to 2,000 mg of turmeric per day is considered healthy in Ayurvedic medicine.
What are the side effects of turmeric?
In excessive doses (supplements), turmeric can cause nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach.
Is it healthy to drink turmeric everyday?
Turmeric is best taken in the form of natural foods and drinks. Therefore, drinking turmeric tea or golden milk is healthy daily if you make it yourself with natural ingredients.
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