Medicinal Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin Based on Science

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Medicinal Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin Based on Science

Turmeric is a spice with antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-aging properties. It has an earthy aroma and taste. Turmeric contains curcumin which is what gives turmeric its many medicinal health benefits. Research into curcumin has shown that it can help reduce inflammation, improve your heart health, detoxify your body, promote digestive health, and has been linked with weight loss.

You can also use turmeric as a topical treatment to help improve the appearance of your skin. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric mean that it can also help treat a number of skin conditions.


Turmeric is related to ginger which also has many health benefits. You can add turmeric to spice up dishes or take curcumin supplements to address many health conditions. Many studies show that you can take between 1,000 mg and 2,500 mg turmeric extract a day for its anti-inflammatory and medicinal benefits.

In this article, you will find out what science says about the many health benefits of turmeric and curcumin. You will also learn how to make your own turmeric anti-inflammatory tea at home.

Turmeric Contains Powerful Medicinal Properties

Turmeric has been described as the “Golden Spice” both for its color and amazing medicinal properties. Turmeric belongs to the Curcuma longa genus and is a root herb.

Research has revealed that there are over 100 bioactive components in turmeric. The most potent compound in turmeric is a group called curcuminoids. From the curcuminoids, curcumin is the powerful medicinal compound that is used in many supplements. (1)

Turmeric also contains potassium, iron, thiamine, some B-group vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. (1)

Turmeric has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Recent scientific research has backed up many of the traditional uses of curcumin. A report from 2017 found that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin have multiple health benefits. (2)

The proportion of curcumin in turmeric is fairly low. Studies have shown that only about 3% of turmeric is curcumin. Therefore, to really benefit from turmeric, you should look for curcumin supplements with a high curcuminoid content. (3)

One important way to make sure and get the benefits of turmeric or curcumin is to take it with black pepper. Research into curcumin shows that it is poorly absorbed by the body. However, adding piperine or black pepper boosts its absorption by up to 2,000%. (4)

That is why the best curcumin supplements have piperine as part of the ingredients. You can find out other scientifically proven ways to increase the absorption of curcumin in my previous article. You can also increase the amount of turmeric you use in cooking. In my article about how heat affects turmeric you will see that some cooking methods actually increase the antioxidant properties of turmeric.

Curcumin Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The ability to reduce inflammation is one of the most important benefits of curcumin.

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic warn that chronic inflammation can lead to various diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer. (5)

A systematic review of trials on curcumin between 1966 and 2002 found that curcumin has anti-inflammatory activity. Curcumin inhibits certain molecules that play a role in inflammation. The results from 5 studies revealed that taking up to 2,500 mg curcumin a day doesn’t produce any side effects. (6)

In fact, some scientific research has revealed that curcumin may be just as effective as some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and aspirin. (7)

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Find out how to make an anti-inflammatory turmeric ginger tea to help reduce inflammation. At the end of this article, you will find the recipe for turmeric tea.

Curcumin Can Help Relieve Pain

The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin means that it also has pain-relieving properties.

Scientists have revealed that curcumin can help provide relief from acute and chronic pain. For example, curcumin has pain suppressing properties that can help treat post-operative pain and also manage chronic pain. (8)

Other studies have shown that curcumin can also help reduce the effects of diabetic neuropathic pain. Researchers found that taking curcumin can be a natural pain-relief option for people suffering from diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes). (9)

Curcumin supplements can alleviate arthritis and joint pain

Regularly taking curcumin supplements with piperine benefits arthritis sufferers because turmeric extracts help relieve joint pain and inflammation.

A systematic review of randomized clinical trials found that curcumin can be an effective treatment for arthritis. Many studies show that the anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin reduces inflammation and pain in joints of men and women. Curcumin has a similar effect to drugs used for treating arthritis symptoms, but without the side effects. (10)

One study revealed that curcumin was superior to diclofenac sodium – an NSAID drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis pain. (11)

Most studies found that taking 1,000 mg curcumin for arthritis can help to effectively relieve arthritis symptoms. (10)

If you suffer from arthritis, learn about what foods you should eat and avoid to help prevent inflammation and joint pain. Turmeric supplements are just one of the natural ways to treat symptoms of arthritis and reduce pain associated with knee osteoarthritis.

Turmeric Extracts Benefit Your Cardio Health

Taking supplements containing turmeric extracts can improve the health of your heart and help prevent heart disease.

Research published in the International Journal of Cardiology reported that curcumin helps protect against cardiovascular diseases. The reasons why curcumin is so good for your health is that it helps prevent clotting, regulates heartbeat, and reduces the effect of inflammation on your heart. (12)

Did you know that there are some habits that can damage the health of your heart and that you can do simple changes to reduce your risk of heart attack by 80%?

Let’s look in some more detail at how turmeric helps to improve your cardiovascular health.

Use turmeric supplements to help lower blood pressure

Turmeric extracts with black pepper to boost absorption are an excellent way to help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.

The anti-hypertension effects of curcumin were reported on in 2016. Scientific studies have shown that curcumin suppresses certain proteins that are linked to high blood pressure. (13)

You can learn about other ways to reduce hypertension without drugs.

Regularly take turmeric to help reduce cholesterol

Regular supplementation with curcumin is good for your heart because it helps to reduce “bad” cholesterol.

An analysis of 7 studies including over 600 patients found that turmeric extracts had a significant impact on lowering LDL cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the type that doctors associate with heart disease. (14)

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Some studies found that curcumin supplements with between 600 mg and 1,500 mg curcuminoids are well tolerated and can help to improve cardiovascular health. (14)

Apart from taking turmeric for cholesterol, you can find out what else can help reduce LDL cholesterol naturally.

Curcumin can help to improve artery health

Compounds in turmeric also have many benefits to your vascular system and may prevent plaque clogging up your arteries.

Scientists have found that curcumin supplements improve vascular endothelial function. Endothelial dysfunction is connected with heart disease and can lead to atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque in the arteries). (15) It was found that over a 12-week period, curcumin supplementation improved the overall health of the vascular system. (16)

Turmeric Boosts Cognitive Function and Brain Health

Taking curcumin regularly can have a beneficial effect on your brain and help improve your memory.

Many studies have shown that turmeric and curcumin have a neuroprotective effect. Researchers have found that curcumin has over 10 neuroprotective actions. These help to reduce the harmful effects of oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. Studies revealed that curcumin can protect the brain against the effects of trauma, aging, and degenerative neurological diseases. (17)

Learn about other herbs, foods and other ways to boost your cognitive abilities.

Curcumin May Help Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

One of the beneficial effects of taking curcumin regularly is that it can help prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies into the therapeutic benefits of curcumin have found that it can benefit people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Taking turmeric supplements for over a year resulted in improvement in many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. (18)

Researchers say that turmeric is good for dementia because it reduces oxidative stress, destroys free radicals, and has an anti-inflammatory effect. These factors are often associated with the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. (19)

Turmeric is just one of the supplements that have a therapeutic effect on Alzheimer’s disease that you can read about.

Curcumin Can Help Lift Your Mood and Treat Depression

Turmeric also contains antidepressant properties that can help lift your mood.

One trial on the benefits of turmeric found that curcumin together with piperine can help increase levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. These neurotransmitters are connected with a person’s feeling of happiness and well-being. The trial concluded that curcumin has the potential for use in treating depressive disorders. (20)

A meta-analysis of 6 clinical trials found that curcumin can help to reduce anxiety and also make depressive symptoms better. Most of the antidepressant effects of curcumin were experienced in a 4 to 8-week period. (21)

You can also read about other natural treatments for depression or use certain essential oil to help treat mild depression.

Turmeric Promotes Healthy Digestion

Turmeric has many benefits for your digestive system and can help to improve your stomach health.

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A systematic review found that turmeric helps to protect the health of your gastrointestinal system. Taking turmeric regularly can also benefit you if you suffer from chronic digestive-related conditions. For example, the review found that curcumin can help treat peptic ulcers, alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, improve symptoms of Crohn’s disease, and reduce acid reflux. (22)

Generally, taking curcumin regularly doesn’t cause digestive problems. However, doctors from WebMD say that a few people may experience stomach upset, nausea, or diarrhea. (23)

Find out about herbal teas that can help improve your digestive function.

Curcumin Can Help Manage Diabetes Symptoms

Curcumin supplementation benefits people with diabetes because it can help to control blood glucose levels.

Many studies have revealed that curcuminoids in turmeric can help to prevent and treat diabetes. Scientists have found that as well as lowering blood glucose levels, curcumin can lower LDL cholesterol and prevent fat accumulation in the liver. These are often complications of diabetes. (24)

Curcumin can also be good for diabetics because it helps prevent diabetic nerve damage, vascular disease, and other diabetes-related complications. (24)

Clinical trials found that even a low dose of curcumin of 45 mg per day can help to reduce heart-related complications of diabetes. (25)

Learn about other foods to control diabetes naturally.

Compounds in Turmeric Can Benefit Your Liver Health

The antioxidant compounds in turmeric like curcumin can help protect you from liver damage.

One trial found that turmeric and curcumin increase enzymes that help to protect the liver from injury. Turmeric extracts also stimulated the production of glutathione – the main antioxidant in the body. The trial concluded that curcumin can help treat liver diseases. (26)

Other studies have found that the anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin can help to protect the liver from alcohol damage, iron overdose, and reduction in bile flow. The detoxifying effect of curcumin is also beneficial for liver health. (27)

To help keep your liver healthy, find out what habits you must avoid to protect your liver’s health.

Curcumin Has Anticancer Properties

Research suggests that turmeric extracts can be good for the prevention and possible treatment of cancer.

The journal Molecules reported that the therapeutic effects of curcumin in cancer treatment have been studied for over 40 years. In laboratory trials, curcumin has shown the potential to prevent tumors and also inhibit their spread. (28)

For example, extracts from turmeric have been shown to be effective in preventing the spread of breast cancer cells. (29)

Some other trials show the effectiveness of curcumin in helping to treat colorectal cancer. (30)

There is also evidence to suggest that curcumin extracts could also be used in combination with traditional cancer treatment to increase their effectiveness. (31)

Also, researchers suggest that increasing turmeric in your diet could help reduce your risk of cancer developing. (32)

Of course, there is no solid evidence that curcumin with black pepper can be used to treat cancer in humans. However, scientific research does show the potential of curcumin in treating various cancers. (33)

Benefits of Turmeric for Skin

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric benefit your skin and help to reduce the signs of aging.

A systematic review of 18 clinical studies found that taking both curcumin supplements and applying turmeric to your skin have beneficial effects. Results from the studies show that turmeric can treat symptoms of acne, psoriasis, itching, eczema, and the effects of UV radiation. (34)

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The researchers concluded that there is plenty of evidence of the benefits of turmeric to your skin health.

Let’s look in more detail at the many ways curcumin benefits your skin.

Use turmeric to improve the appearance of your skin

Applying skin care products containing turmeric extracts can help to make your skin look better and more youthful.

Research has found that applying curcumin topically can help to reduce the effect of free radicals on your skin. This has the effect of lessening the visible signs of aging and protecting skin cells from damage. (35)

Medscape reports that moisturizing creams containing turmeric extract can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Also, turmeric facial cream helped to reduce hyperpigmentation by nearly 15%. (36)

Find out how to make an easy turmeric face mask for beautiful and glowing skin.

Turmeric paste can help heal wounds

The antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds in turmeric mean that a paste containing turmeric can help wounds heal faster.

The journal Life Sciences reported that curcumin benefits wound healing because it inhibits inflammation and oxidation of the wound site. Turmeric extracts helped to increase collagen and help the wound heal better. (37)

Applying turmeric cream was also shown to be effective in helping Caesarean wounds to heal. The effect of the turmeric extract cream also prevented complications of wound healing after a Caesarean section. (38)

Turmeric face mask may assist in treating acne

Using turmeric in a face mask can help to get rid of acne pimples due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Research from Japan found that curcumin can be used in acne treatments to inhibit the acne-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes. They suggested that curcumin could be used as an alternative acne treatment. (39)

A review of the medicinal properties of curcumin also found that the antimicrobial effect of curcumin is a potential natural treatment for acne vulgaris and chronic wounds. (40)

Learn about other effective face masks to help get rid of acne naturally.

Turmeric benefits psoriasis sufferers

Curcuma extracts can also help manage symptoms of psoriasis like itching, scaling, and skin inflammation.

Researchers say that the “golden spice” turmeric contains polyphenols – important plant-based antioxidants. These have antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties that can help treat psoriasis. (41)

Other studies have shown that bioactive compounds in turmeric can help to lessen psoriasis lesions. (42)

Some studies also suggest that taking curcumin supplements can also help to reduce psoriasis symptoms. (43)

If you suffer from psoriasis, learn about other natural ways of treating psoriasis symptoms.

Can Turmeric Help You Lose Weight?

Taking curcumin supplements with piperine to boost absorption can help you lose weight and prevent obesity.

One randomized controlled clinical study found that curcumin has compounds that assist in weight loss. In the study, 44 adults took curcumin to supplement their weight-loss program. It was discovered that curcumin help to increase weight loss by nearly 5%. Subjects had reduced waistline and a lower body mass index (BMI). The researchers concluded that curcumin supplements can help overweight people manage their weight better. (44)

Other studies have found that curcumin helps to inhibit inflammatory responses that are common in obese people. This has the effect of helping to reduce obesity and also prevent some of the complications of obesity. (45)

Of course, using turmeric for weight loss isn’t a miracle pill in itself. Studies into the anti-obesity effect of curcumin have shown that turmeric pills can assist weight loss when used as an add-on therapy to diet. (46)

Turmeric Tea Recipe and Benefits

One very easy way to enjoy all the health benefits of turmeric and curcumin is to make your own delicious turmeric tea. Adding black pepper to turmeric tea helps to increase your body’s absorption of curcumin.

Turmeric tea can help reduce inflammation, keep your heart healthy, lift your mood, and keep your digestion working properly.

Turmeric tea recipe

If you want to make a simple quick cup of turmeric tea, this is what you should do:

  • Put 1-2 teaspoon of fresh grated turmeric root or 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a cup.
  • Fill with boiling water, cover and let infuse for 5 minutes.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
  • Add raw honey and lemon to taste when the tea has cooled down.
  • Drink a cup or two a day to help reduce inflammation.

You can also try the recipe of the popular “turmeric golden milk” – a healthy and delicious Ayurvedic drink that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Side Effects and Precautions When Taking Turmeric or Curcumin Supplements

Turmeric is a yellow-colored spice that has many medicinal benefits. When used in normal quantities in cooking, there are usually no side effects when using turmeric.

Some people with underlying health conditions should exercise some care when using curcumin supplements for medical purposes, and you can find more details in my article “Turmeric Should Be Avoided By These People“.

Doctors from WebMD report on the following side effects that some people have when taking curcumin supplements regularly: (47)

  • People with diabetes. Turmeric supplements can help lower blood glucose levels. If you take medication for diabetes, you should consult with your doctor before taking high-strength curcumin supplements.
  • Pregnant women. Curcumin can stimulate the uterus and could result in pregnancy complications. You should avoid taking turmeric for medicinal purposes if you are pregnant.
  • Blood clotting. You should avoid turmeric supplements if you take blood-thinning medication or have blood clotting disorders. Turmeric could cause you to bruise or bleed easier.
  • If you have kidney stones or gallstones. Curcumin supplements can increase levels of oxalate in the blood that can lead to kidney stones forming. (48) Also, turmeric supplements can make gallbladder problems worse.
  • Iron deficiency. High amounts of curcumin can affect iron absorption. If you suffer from an iron deficiency you should use care if taking turmeric medicinally.

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