Turmeric is stacked full of anti-everything. Antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, antimicrobial properties, anti-fungal and as an anti-collagenase. It’s not the turmeric that makes it effective though: It’s the curcumin in the turmeric that delivers massive health benefits. The curcumin in turmeric treats acne better than azelaic acid and depression better than Prozac®.
Discover 9 Health Benefits of Turmeric
- Natural anti-inflammatory properties
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to reduce inflammation, and act as pain relief caused by the inflammation. The same results are possible with the right amount of turmeric; however, it may be difficult to get the required amount into your diet naturally without using supplements.
Robin Berzin, MD of Parsley health explains; to get the beneficial anti-inflammatory effects from curcumin, you’d need to consume between 500mg to 1 gram of curcuminoids daily. Evidence based research shows as much as 12g daily over three months is safe. Ric Scalzo of GaiaHerbs.com adds to that advice that to keep inflammation at bay, about 2 grams of curcuminoids per day would be better suited.
As a guideline, a teaspoon of ground turmeric will give you about 200 mg of curcumin. Supplements are available with higher quantities; however, those will differ by brand so check the label to see how much you’re actually getting.
It should be noted that the curcumin isn’t absorbed well in the bloodstream. Black pepper helps absorption as it contains piperine, enhancing absorption by as much as 2,000%
Two ways to use to turmeric are to introduce it to your foods, or make a turmeric tea. Alternatively, you can buy it in supplement form.
- Powerful Anti-collagenase; helpful to prevent saggy skin
Listed as the world’s 6th richest natural source of antioxidants on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale, turmeric is a powerful ally in the fight against aging.
Antioxidants protect skin from UV rays. Furthermore, turmeric contains anti-elastase enzymes. Tests were done with 150 plant extracts and only 6 showed anti-elastase activity at over 65%, (turmeric among them) therefore, turmeric is effective at preventing the skin from losing its elasticity and stopping skin from sagging.
It helps fight off free radicals and helps to stimulate your body’s natural ability to produce antioxidants.
- Better memory and improved brain functions
BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is a growth hormone in the brain that’s linked to mental health disorders including depression and Alzheimer’s disease. The curcumin in turmeric can increase the levels of BDNF in the brain, which may help prevent, and perhaps even reverse brain diseases, however further research is needed in this field.
It can also stave off some of the effects of depression as it can boost serotonin and dopamine levels. Interestingly, in a joint study between scientific teams in the US and India, clinical trials of BCM-95®- a curcumin extract – outperformed Prozac®
- Decreases the risk of heart disease
Studies so far indicate that curcumin works as well as some brand name statin medications. In some cases, turmeric can be as effective for your hearts health as exercising is. It’s believed that a potential reason it’s effective at decreasing the risk of heart disease is because it improves
endothelium functions, which is the thin layer of cells that line the heart. Endothelial dysfunction is a contributing factor to heart disease.
- Reduced risk of cancer
Few controlled human studies have been done to say for sure the effect curcumin has on cancer patients, however in animal laboratory testing, it has proven effective at hindering the growth of cancerous cells. One study group of men with lesions in their colon that could turn cancerous were given 4g of curcumin daily and lesions reduced by 40%.
International research shows that in countries where people consume more turmeric in their daily diets have a lower rate of cancer. Whilst there is no definitive evidence at the moment, Cancer Research UK note that turmeric appears to kill cancerous cells preventing new growth, which prevents the spread of cancer. It seems to be most beneficial in people affected by bowel cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer and stomach cancer.
- Definitively beneficial for people with arthritis
A 2012 study conducted with patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis found that patients given BCM-95®showed significantly decreased swelling and a reduction in joint pain. The results found that those given BCM-95® had better improvements that those given Diclofenac – a non-steroid based anti-inflammatory .
Research is ongoing but it is believed to better for prevention rather than pain management, but can help in both aspects, depending on dosage.
- Immune boosting capabilities
In addition to being a powerhouse for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, turmeric has just as potent antimicrobial properties. At low dosage, curcumin enhances the antibody response, so it has the capability to prevent colds and flus by bolstering your immune system against bacterial infections.
- Great for people with sensitive skin
People affected by sensitive skin such as eczema, acne and psoriasis can reduce inflammation, itchiness, histamine levels (contributes to inflammation) by using turmeric regularly, either by directly consuming it or applying it as a topical skin lotion.
In one study, curcumin was found to be 36x stronger than azelaic acid – an anti-fungal drug used to treat acne.
- Good for Gut Health
Clinical trials show that curcumin can be beneficial for people with gut conditions, such as colitis, leaky gut and irritable bowel disease.
Turmeric acts as an astringent, drawing tissue together reducing intestinal permeability, however, the Better Nutrition Magazine consider a higher amount of up to 10 grams daily would be needed to alleviate the symptoms of leaky gut.
Possible Side Effects of Turmeric
Turmeric is considered relatively safe in moderate to high amounts up to 12g per day. However, there are some side effects linked to consuming too much turmeric or curcumin.
- Diarrhoea/upset stomach
- Any hormone sensitive conditions can be worsened by turmeric
- Can reduce fertility in men
- As turmeric is a blood thinner, it should be avoided at least two weeks before any surgery, otherwise there’s a risk of excess bleeding.
When You Should NOT Take Turmeric
Turmeric is a blood thinner and shouldn’t be taken by people taking heart medication to thin their blood, those with gallbladder disease, or pregnant. Turmeric can also lower blood sugar levels so should only be used by diabetics after getting medical advice. People affected by GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) should avoid turmeric as an upset stomach will make the condition worse. If you take any medications, stay safe and consult your doctor or dietitian first as turmeric can interfere with medications.