Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin: For Physical and Mental Health

Updated on June 26th, 2020
turmeric

Turmeric is one of the oldest known herbs rooted in southeast Asia without thousands of years of history. It is an underground stem that has been a significant part of many cultures. In general, it is used as a condiment, food coloring, dye, also as medicine.

Especially in Ayurveda, turmeric has a very high prominence position due to its highly potent medicinal compounds. Understanding its benefits (1), many western cultures and also health experts have started including turmeric in their regular diet and also as an ailment to treat specific health conditions.

For some purposes, the turmeric rhizome is used fresh or as it is by cleaning. While, in most cases, it is boiled in water, dried, and later ground into a powder. The powdered form is generally used for cooking and found in Indian households.

Healthy Compounds of Turmeric

turmeric nutritional values
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Turmeric powder, as we all have heard, is widely regarded for its nutritious compounds. It contains about 1-6% of curcuminoids, 60-70% of carbohydrates, 3-7 % of fat, 3-7% of essential oils, 6-8% protein, 5-8% fat, 2-7% of dietary fiber, and 6-13% of water. The extracted turmeric is considered highly potent due to the presence of high amounts of curcumin, and also demethoxycurcumin & bisdemethoxycurcumin (2).

Besides, it also contains essential oils that are used in aromatherapy or massage therapy. It is also an excellent source of nourishment for skin and hair.

Turmeric and Curcumin:

Turmeric is surely one of the best herbs used for ages. Of the many essential components present in turmeric, curcumin is one of the highly effective components. It is a bright yellow chemical that gives turmeric its color. Curcumin, including various other chemical components present in turmeric, makes it one of the excellent sources for various health benefits.

Below listed are a few benefits turmeric exhibits when used in culinary, medicinal, or other such purposes.

Health Benefits of Turmeric:

Turmeric is commonly used as a traditional medicine in Ayurveda and various other cultures in Southeast Asia.

From the past few years, many cultures around the globe have started to look for or adapt foods that enrich their well-being. Turmeric has been one of such foods that have been adopted by various cultures due to its numerous health benefits. Below listed are a few of the many ways turmeric can act as a holistic component and improve the overall health:

1. Digestive health

digestive-health
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Apart from adding flavor and making the food delicious, turmeric also aids in digestion. According to a pilot study (3), turmeric was known to alleviate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It was also reported to reduce abdominal discomfort and promote healthy patterns of bowel movements.

Another study showed that it could also alleviate mild to moderate ulcerative colitis (4). It may also help in treating various gastrointestinal disorders (5). However, further studies are required to understand the full benefits of turmeric on digestive health.

The magnesium and potassium in turmeric may help in hydrating and balancing the fluids. It may also help in inhibiting the overproduction of acid that causes flatulence.

[Read: Best Herbs to Cure Your Fatty Liver Naturally]

2. Liver health

The liver is a multifunctional organ that helps in regulating the condition of various organs and the overall health of the body. Curcumin, an active compound of turmeric, was shown to protect the liver and treat certain conditions associated with it (6).

Experiment studies mentioned in the same research also indicated that this vital compound of turmeric also has a preventive and curative effect against the oxidative stress on the liver. The essential components of the liver also inhibit the toxins from damaging the liver.

Another experimental study also showed that turmeric might also delay liver damage and cirrhosis.

3. Cardiovascular health

Turmeric is known to protect us from cardiovascular diseases. It is also known to improve blood circulation. According to another study, turmeric also increased forearm and upper arm blood flow.

Another source stated that research conducted in mice showed that turmeric could prevent fatty buildup in arteries.

4. Oral health

The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric make it an excellent remedy for regulating oral hygiene. It also helps in treating dental pain, periodontal diseases, and oral cancers. Besides, the active compounds in turmeric also work as an excellent mouthwash, sealant, and toothpaste.

5. Weight loss

The benefits of turmeric extend beyond promoting the health of vital organs. It is one of the healthiest sources to encourage weight loss by triggering various essential actions on the body. The ability of it to improve blood circulation, repair cells, and inhibiting the deposit of fats in cells & blood vessels play a significant role in maintaining a healthy weight and decrease obesity. It also helps in regulating glucose levels and breaking down fatty acids, which reduce obesity and also mitigates the adverse effects associated with it.

6. Brain function

Curcumin also increases specific essential components of brain levels, which may be useful in delaying or reversing aging. Its effect on BDNF levels may also help in improving memory. It may also regulate brain function in people suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. In some cases, it can also slow down the progress or prevent diseases.


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Benefits of Turmeric & Curcumin on Overall Body Functions

turmeric benefits - infographic

Turmeric benefits the body in various ways. Other than promoting the health of specific vital organs, it also exhibits some essential benefits on overall body functions. Below listed are a few such benefits of turmeric:

1. Antioxidant

High concentrations of free radicals in the body are known to be one of the primordial reasons for various chronic health conditions and early aging. Free radicals can disrupt vital organic compounds such as DNA, fatty acids, or proteins.

Curcumin, the bioactive component of turmeric, exhibits antioxidant properties that fight off the free radicals and protects the body. Besides, it also promotes the body’s natural antioxidant abilities.

The hepatoprotective effect of the liver also has the ability to inhibit the formation of proinflammatory cytokines. The choleretic activity of curcumin also increases bile output and solubility. It can help in treating gallstones .

2. Anti-cancer 

Curcumin, the vital component of turmeric, is known to exhibit anit-cancer properties. It has been found that it does by promoting cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, and also on other biological pathways that can inhibit cancer. It is also known to contain the anti-proliferative effect, which prevents the spread of tumor cells into new tissues or other cells.

It should be noted that turmeric helps in preventing to an extent, but is not the only source to completely prevent or cure cancer.

3. Anti-inflammatory Effects 

Inflammation is one of the ways that our body helps in fighting harmful pathogens. When a pathogen or infection attacks the body, inflammation signals the immune system and triggers its action. Then, the immune system comes to the affected part and wards off those harmful microbes. So, short-term or acute inflammation is beneficial to the body and protects it from getting sick.

However, when the inflammation stays for long or becomes chronic, it can become a significant problem. It can make our immune system act against our own and kill the healthy cells in the body. Besides, chronic inflammation has become a very symptom of cardiac issues, respiratory diseases, arthritis, tuberculosis, and a few others.

Hence, when the body is infected with such conditions, it is essential to fight off any inflammations to protect the body. The best way to do so is by fueling the body with natural compounds that can heal the inflammations from within. Turmeric does a great job in situations like these.

It exhibits the most beneficial anti-inflammatory response on the body without any significant side-effects. Turmeric can either be taken orally or applied as a topical ointment on the skin to experience the anti-inflammatory benefits.

[Read: Inflammation : Natural Remedies and Treatment]

4. Analgesic

Turmeric is one of the well-known herbs that is known to exhibit excellent analgesic properties (to reduce or alleviate pain). The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties mentioned above promote overall healing, which in turn reduces pain. It is also known to be one of the safest and effective ways to alleviate pain and its associated symptoms .

5. Antimicrobial

The powdered form of turmeric has been used by Indian cultures to heal any infections or wounds. According to research, it also possesses antimalarial, antibacterial, antiviral, and antimalarial activities. Including turmeric in everyday diet can help in preventing and also augmenting the treatment for any infections.

These properties of turmeric also make it an excellent remedy for treating and preventing various infections like cold and flu.

6. Foods

Turmeric is used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines for taste. But, it also has a few other benefits. Below listed are a few:

  • Turmeric is known to protect baked goods such as cakes or bread from rancidity.
  • It acts as one of the best natural preservatives when used in foods.
  • Known to increase the shelf-life of chicken when marinated.

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Benefits of Turmeric Essential Oil

turmeric essential oil
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The benefits of turmeric are known to be enhanced when it is extracted in the form of oil. It is also used in aromatherapy due to its various health benefits. Below listed are a few benefits of turmeric n aromatherapy:

  • Enriches the immune system and promotes the response
  • Soothes & uplifts the mood
  • Earthy, woody, and spicy flavor creates a warm & calm environment
  • Increases energy and positive emotions
  • Eases breathing, reduces congestion and respiratory disorders
  • Alleviates headaches, fatigue, colds, and fevers
  • Supports the recovery process after exercise or other injuries
  • Improves overall mood
  • Relaxes muscles
  • Releases tensions or stress from the body

1. As an ointment on the skin

The essential oil can be used as an ointment on the skin. Below listed are a few benefits when used or applied on the skin:

  • Antiseptic and antibacterial properties can help soothe minor burns, cuts, bruises, and bites
  • Astringent properties of it tighten and tones the skin
  • Clears acne-prone skin
  • Brightens the skin area damaged by sunlight
  • Foot soak with turmeric can repair cracked heels
  • Removes dead skin
  • Cleanses brightens and smoothes the skin
  • Removes excess oil
  • Reduces blemishes or wrinkles
  • Improves skin resilience
  • Moisturizes the skin

2. Turmeric Oil for Hair

  • Strengthens hair strands
  • Removes dandruff and dead skin from scalp and hair
  • Moisturizes the hair to avoid dryness

Best Ways to Take Turmeric

In general, the daily recommended dosage of turmeric is 500 – 2,000 mg. Turmeric may contain less than 5% of curcumin. Hence, to treat certain conditions or alleviate specific symptoms, an extract of curcumin, which contains a high content of curcumin, is recommended.

  • Turmeric milk
  • Take a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
  • Add it to a warm glass of milk.
  • Adding turmeric powder to smoothies or other similar drinks also exhibits similar health benefits.
  • You can drink a glass of turmeric milk every day, either in the morning or before going to bed.

As a Face mask

Ingredients:

  • One teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • One teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • One teaspoon of milk or yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of organic honey

How to make it:

  • Take all these above ingredients and mix them in a bowl.
  • Mix it properly until a proper paste is formed.
  • Clean your face, pat it dry, and apply it to the mask on the skin (avoid eye area).
  • Let it sit on for 10-15 minutes.
  • Later, wash it off with warm water and pat it dry.

A a Toothpaste

  • Create a paste with a teaspoon of turmeric powder and coconut oil.
  • Brush your teeth with the paste.
  • Later, rinse your mouth with warm water and brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste.

It helps in getting rid of plaque and stains on your teeth. Besides, the antimicrobial property of it can kill any harmful germs in your mouth.

  • You can also include turmeric in your everyday diet as a spice or flavoring agent in curries or in salads.
  • You can also take turmeric supplements every day, as recommended by your physician.

If you are under medication, treatment, or have had a history of an allergic reaction to turmeric, make sure to consult your physician before taking it. It could otherwise interfere with your current treatment, trigger any condition, or lead to health complications.

Side Effects of Turmeric:

Turmeric is undoubtedly one of the most beneficial herbs that have significant benefits on human health. However, sometimes it may have some negative impacts on people. It could be either due to allergic reactions to it, interactions with the medicine, or an overdose. Below listed are a few such negative impacts a person may have with turmeric:

  • When taken in larger amounts than the recommended dosage, turmeric may cause irritation in the stomach.
  • It may also thin the blood, while the exact cause of it is still not substantial; however, it may be associated with its property of lowering blood pressure.
  • Excess intake may lead to nausea, diarrhea, or dizziness.
  • In some cases, it may also disrupt heart rhythm or liver functions.

[Also Read: Beware! Turmeric Has Some Side Effects Too!]

Who should avoid it?

Turmeric may be healthy to control specific health conditions. However, it can have a negative impact on specific groups of people. Below listed are some groups of people who must avoid turmeric unless recommended by a physician:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding women
  • People suffering from gallbladder diseases, kidney stones, bleeding disorders, diabetes, and also those who have iron-deficiency

Conclusion:

Turmeric and its vital compound curcumin are undoubtedly one of the most beneficial sources to enrich human health. But, like any other substance, turmeric is useful only when taken in moderation. It surely does help in improving health and may help in fighting various conditions; it should not be a replacement for conventional medicine or treatment.

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Turmeric for Eczema: A Natural Remedy That Works

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Turmeric: A “Wonder Drug” for Annoying Headaches


FAQs

1. Does Turmeric Have an Instant Effect?

Yes, turmeric may work immediately after consuming it with temporary relief. However, in cases of chronic conditions such as arthritis or inflammation, it may take from a few days to weeks to experience the results.

Various factors such as age, weight, health conditions, and even environmental conditions can fasten or slow the effect of turmeric.

2. Can I Take Turmeric Supplements Every Day?

Taking can be used as a spice in moderate amounts. However, if you are taking turmeric or curcumin supplements, you must strictly follow the recommended dosage.

3. Can Turmeric Cause Body Odor?

No, turmeric doesn’t cause body odor. The antibacterial properties of turmeric prevent the growth of body-odor bacteria. The curcumin paste also acts as an exfoliator, which helps in removing bacteria trapped in skin pores.

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