- What Is Turmeric?
- What Are The Benefits Of Turmeric?
- Is Turmeric Good For Your Skin?
- Can Turmeric Help You Lose Weight?
- Is Drinking Turmeric Good For You?
- Can Turmeric Help With Hair Loss?
- How Much Turmeric Can You Take A Day?
- What Are The Side Effects Of Turmeric?
- Are There Any Drug Interactions With Turmeric?
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric or Curcuma longa is an herbaceous plant that primarily grows in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It is a rhizomatous plant belonging to Zingiberaceae, the ginger family. The rhizomes are either used fresh or are boiled for around half an hour to forty-five minutes in water and then dried and grounded to get turmeric powder. It has a bitter, warm flavor somewhat like pepper. Apart from being used as a dyeing, flavoring and coloring agent in various Asian dishes, it also has significance in Ayurvedic medicine, Unani, traditional Chinese medicine and Siddha medicine. Phytochemicals like demethoxycurcumin, curcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin are present in turmeric along with many essential oils like atlantone, turmerone, zingiberene and germacrone. It also has six to eight percent protein, sixty to seventy percent carbohydrates, five to ten percent fat, two to seven percent dietary fiber and other nutrients. For long turmeric, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for attempted treatment of various physiological ailments like common cold, indigestion, infection of our throat and disorders related to our liver. Topical application of turmeric is done to cleanse wounds. (1)
What Are The Benefits Of Turmeric?
The following are the benefits of Turmeric(2):
- What Are The Benefits Of Turmeric?
- Anti-inflammatory Properties Of Turmeric
- Enhances Cognitive Functioning And Thereby Manages Brain Diseases
- Boosts Levels Of Antioxidants In The Body
- Anti Cancer Benefits
- Could Improve Heart Health
- Good For Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Beneficial For Patients With Arthritis
- Prevents Clotting Of Blood
- Beneficial In Detoxification
- Effective In Managing Pain Naturally
- May Be Effective In Managing Cholesterol Levels
- May Assist In Managing Diabetes
- Beneficial In Treating Lichen Planus
- Can Be Used For Cough Naturally
- Beneficial For Yeast Infections
1. Anti-inflammatory Properties Of Turmeric:
Long-term inflammation leads to varied degenerative conditions, metabolic syndrome, cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, heart disease etc. Presence of phytochemicals, especially curcumin endows turmeric with anti-inflammatory properties. It is said to be equivalent to certain medicinal drugs used for inflammation. At the same time, turmeric does not cause harmful side effects. By blocking NF-kB molecule which is said to be related to many chronic diseases, curcumin in turmeric fights inflammation. NF-kB molecule is responsible for activating inflammation causing genes. So, at molecular level turmeric is able to counter inflammation.
2. Enhances Cognitive Functioning And Thereby Manages Brain Diseases:
A naturally occurring growth hormone in brain, BDNF or Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, is linked to brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease or depression. As the levels of the hormone decreases, chances of brain diseases increase. Turmeric is said to be related to increase in levels of BDNF. This in turn is good for probable reversal of brain disease and degeneration. A study was conducted to see the effect of turmeric on sixty patients suffering from depression. They were divided into three groups. One was given one gram of turmeric daily, another was given Prozac and the third was given turmeric as well as Prozac for six weeks. The group taking both turmeric and Prozac had much lower levels of depression. Turmeric may also boost dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters that are related to our mood and memory. Curcumin in turmeric is beneficial in reducing inflammation which are related to the Alzheimer’s disease that eventually leads to dementia. Buildup of amyloid plaque or protein tangles is one of the important features of Alzheimer’s disease and curcumin may help remove these plaques. It goes across the blood-brain barrier to work on the factors causing the disease.
3. Boosts Levels Of Antioxidants In The Body:
Many diseases as well as ageing is related to oxidative damage. They react with proteins, DNA, fatty acids in our body. Turmeric provides our body with antioxidant benefits. It works by increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes present in our body as well as is effective in neutralizing free radicals.
4. Anti Cancer Benefits:
Uncontrolled multiplication of cells leads to cancer. Turmeric has been found to be beneficial in cancer management at molecular level. Studies have linked it to probably reducing proliferation of cancer, lowering appearance or development of new blood cells in tumors. A study has also linked turmeric to probable prevention of cancer especially colorectal cancer. Turmeric was given in the dose of four grams daily for 30 days to forty four men with cancerous lesions in their colon. There was forty percent reduction in total number of wounds they had.
5. Could Improve Heart Health:
Heart disease is said to be the major cause of mortality worldwide. Turmeric works against it by bringing about improvement in the functioning of endothelial lining of our blood vessels. By improving functioning of the endothelium, factors affecting your heart like blood clotting, blood pressure regulation etc. are taken care of. A study found turmeric as effective as the drug Atorvastatin and yet another found is equivalent to exercise. Another way it contributes to improved heart health is by reducing oxidative damage and inflammation. In another study, it was seen that curcumin was able to reduce risk of heart attack in patients admitted for bypass surgery of coronary artery. There was sixty five percent risk reduction when turmeric was given to the patients in the dose of 4 grams daily post and pre surgery.
6. Good For Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Improvement in bowel movement as well as reduction in stomach discomfort was seen in IBS patients when given turmeric tablets. They took 2 tablets every day for 8 weeks to get relief. Pain in abdomen and loose motions are associated with the chronic inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis. Improvement in the symptoms of ulcerative colitis was seen in a study when turmeric was added to the daily treatment regime of ulcerative colitis patients. (3)
7. Beneficial For Patients With Arthritis:
Arthritis is characterized by joint inflammation. Certain studies have positively linked turmeric to bringing relief to patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. A study was conducted on 45 patients to compare the effects of curcumin present in turmeric to diclofenac sodium, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used for medical care of arthritis. The drug often causes side effects like heart disease or gut leakage. The rheumatoid arthritis patients were divided into three groups, two groups received either turmeric or diclofenac sodium and the third received both turmeric and the drug. Maximum improvement was seen in the group receiving curcumin without any side effects. Daily intake of 1000 mg of curcumin is said to be good for relieving arthritis discomfort. (4)
8. Prevents Clotting Of Blood:
In studies done on animals, it was seen that turmeric can bring about decrease in the risk of formation of blood clot. Turmeric works by preventing clumping of platelets present in our blood. It brings about changes in the process known as eicosanoids biosynthesis. Eicosanoids has 4 varied molecules involved in the body’s natural inflammatory process. By especially affecting production of thromboxanes, an eicosanoid, turmeric affects blood clotting. A study done on lab and animals suggested probable benefit of using turmeric for treating vascular thrombosis.
9. Beneficial In Detoxification:
Turmeric is said to be good for the liver as it helps it in its process of detoxification. Daily you are exposed to a variety of toxins present in our environment that increases the risk of developing inflammation and cancer. Liver clears up these toxins in two phases and curcumin present in turmeric helps liver to do so. Its anti-inflammatory and anti oxidation properties are beneficial for the detoxification.
10. Effective In Managing Pain Naturally:
Studies have found curcumin in turmeric is beneficial in management of various types of pain. These include burn related pains, pain that you have after the surgery, arthritis related pain, nerve pain stemming from constriction injury, pain related to diabetes as well as orofacial pain. A study done on animals revealed that when curcumin was used in high doses it was able to control pain related to depression as well.
11. May Be Effective In Managing Cholesterol Levels:
Increased levels of cholesterol especially LDL cholesterol is harmful for your health. Conventional drugs like atorvastatin causes various side effects that are harmful for our kidneys and liver. A study suggested that curcumin could be as good as atorvastatin in managing high cholesterol related inflammation and oxidative stress without causing adverse effects.
12. May Assist In Managing Diabetes:
Studies done on diabetic animals like rats and mice have suggested that turmeric may prove beneficial for diabetes. It not only lowered their levels of blood sugar but also managed other complications like fat deposition in liver, suppressed inflammation by inactivating macrophages and reduced cellular resistance to insulin. Turmeric was even effective in almost reversing Type 1 diabetes in rats within ten months by boosting their insulin level and regenerating islet cells. A study done on 240 people revealed that turmeric can even prevent prediabetes from getting converted into diabetes. Many of the participants of the study who were on placebo developed Type 2 diabetes in a period of nine months whereas, those who were taking turmeric supplements did not develop diabetes. (5)
13. Beneficial In Treating Lichen Planus:
Lichen planus is an inflammatory condition characterized by blue, red or purple itchy rashes. It may affect your skin, mouth, genitals, scalp and nails. Turmeric is said to be beneficial for this condition. A study found out that symptoms associated with lichen planus of mouth can be eased by using a turmeric ointment. By virtue of its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties turmeric also suppresses development of squamous cell carcinoma of neck and head which is a risk factor of lichen planus of mouth. Turmeric supplement that has piperine is advised for oral consumption to decrease pain and inflammation associated with the disease. Turmeric tea can be consumed, it may offer relief from the discomfort. Itching can be controlled using a turmeric facial mask. (6)
14. Can Be Used For Cough Naturally:
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is used for cough by virtue of its bactericidal properties. Gargling your throat using hot water to which half teaspoon of turmeric and salt each has been added is good for cough relief. Consuming hot milk to which turmeric has been added is also good. A mixture of honey and turmeric when taken at least thrice a day can ease dry cough. Turmeric tea prepared using four cups of hot boiling water to which one tablespoon of turmeric as well as little honey or lemon has been added is also good. You can even burn dried turmeric and inhale the smoke to ease yourself from cough and cold. (7)
15. Beneficial For Yeast Infections:
Symptoms of yeast infection or candidiasis include vaginitis, oral thrush as well as brain and blood infections. Turmeric can prove effective for candidiasis infection by suppressing development of yeast cells. Its antioxidant property may prove beneficial in boosting your immune system against the free radicals. Turmeric also improves the receptivity of the yeast cells toward conventional antifungal medicine like fluconazole. This further re-establishes the sensitivity of candida to such drugs. Effect of curcumin on growth of candida isolated from HIV patients was studied in a laboratory. It was found that curcumin suppressed candida growth significantly. (8)
Is Turmeric Good For Your Skin?
Turmeric offers the following skin benefits(9):
1. Makes Our Skin More Lustrous:
As it is an effective anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing agent, turmeric adds glow to your skin. You can prepare a face pack by adding Greek yogurt and honey to turmeric. Apply it on your face, leave it as is for at least fifteen minutes and then clean it with water.
2. Healing Of Wounds:
The phytochemical curcumin present in turmeric is beneficial for our skin wounds. By working on your tissues and collagen level when applied, turmeric heals your wound fast.
3. Good For Psoriasis Treatment:
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric is said to be beneficial in treatment of the skin disease psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by dry, red patches cracked and bleeding skin, burning as well itching resulting from deposition of skin cells. In a study, it was seen that when curcumin gel was combined with antibiotics, as well as topical corticosteroids, it was effective in controlling psoriasis in 16 weeks in almost seventy two percent of the patients. They also had to abstain from various allergens and dairy products. Another study revealed that a combination of light therapy and oral curcumin was beneficial and safer for people suffering from plaque psoriasis. In a study involving 34 people it was seen that a curcumin microemulgel was more effective in easing plaque psoriasis related symptoms like scaling, redness and thickness as compared to placebo. Quality of life of the patients also improved. (10)
4. Fights Dark Spots, Acne And Pimples:
Clogging and infection of skin pores often result in acne and pimples. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and bactericidal properties of turmeric is said to be good for removal of acne causing factors from your epidermis. Turmeric can be combined with other beneficial natural ingredients to reap its anti acne benefits. You can topically apply a mix of honey and turmeric, paste of neem leaves and turmeric, turmeric with lemon juice, yogurt with turmeric, aloe vera and turmeric, milk and turmeric or olive oil and turmeric for acne. Adding turmeric powder to milk is also good for oral consumption to get relief from acne. (11)
5. Beneficial For Scabies:
Scabies is a skin condition caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabei, that results in rashes and itchy skin worsening at night. It spreads through direct skin contact. You can prepare a turmeric cream as a remedy for your scabies by combining an ounce of turmeric powder with 2 ounces of neem oil, one ounce of lemon juice, one ounce of coconut oil and ten drops of tea tree oil. Mix it to get a cream like consistency and apply it on your affected areas. Repeat it twice or thrice a day. Leave it for at least fifteen minutes and then wash it off. (12)
6. Natural Healer For Other Skin Conditions:
Studies have revealed that oral consumption as well as topical application of turmeric may prove beneficial for various dermatological conditions like atopic dermatitis, alopecia, facial photoaging, pruritus, eczema, vitiligo and radiodermatitis. (13)
Can Turmeric Help You Lose Weight?
Turmeric may curb obesity related inflammation as well as help in burning extra fat in your body in the following ways(14):
1. Suppressing Growth Of Fat Tissue:
A study done on mice revealed that turmeric has the potential to control weight gain. As our weight increases, new blood vessels are formed and there is subsequent expansion in fat tissues. Turmeric worked by restrained development of fat tissues in mice by suppressing formation of new blood vessels.
2. Controlling Inflammation Related To Obesity:
Obesity is related to low-grade inflammation which in turn is responsible for causing chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Curcumin present in turmeric is known for suppressing inflammation related messaging occurring in our fat cells, muscle cells and pancreatic cells. This further is beneficial in management of high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and other obesity related metabolic disorders. So, by curbing inflammation, turmeric is said to have positive impact on weight loss.
Is Drinking Turmeric Good For You?
Yes, drinking turmeric with warm water in the morning is said to be good for health. It can result in many long term benefits like(15):
- Better digestion: Production of bile and other digestive juices by the gallbladder gets a boost when you drink turmeric. This promotes better digestion.
- Blood sugar level is balanced.
- Our immune system improves instantaneously.
- Does not let fat to accumulate in the adipose tissues therefore promotes healthy weight.
- Adds glow to our skin by serving as a purifier of blood.
- Suppresses beta-amyloid formation which is related to the Alzheimer’s disease.
- Controls neural tissue inflammation.
- Good for cardiovascular health.
- Offers anti cancer benefits.
Addition of black pepper to turmeric water is said to be more beneficial as it enhances its bioavailability.
Can Turmeric Help With Hair Loss?
Yes, turmeric has been found to be beneficial in treating hair loss. In a study, it was seen that Curcuma aeruginosa, a type of turmeric, when used along with minoxidil, a drug used for baldness, there was improvement in rate of growth of hair. Hair loss also slowed down. Topical application was done two times a day for 6 months to see its impact on male pattern baldness.(16)
Regular consumption of anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric can naturally treat alopecia areata, a disease wherein hair loss occurs as our immune system damages the cells present in our hair follicles. (17)
How Much Turmeric Can You Take A Day?
The following dosage of turmeric is considered to be safe(18):
- Children who are fifteen years old and are having high cholesterol levels can be given oral turmeric extract in the dose of 1.4 grams daily for a period of three months.
- For Osteoarthritis: Turmeric extract can be given orally in the dose of five hundred milligrams twice daily for a period of six weeks.
- For Pruritus: Oral turmeric can be given in the dose of 1500 mg daily for 8 weeks.
- For Lowering Cholesterol: You need to take turmeric extract in the dose of 1.4 grams in two divided doses daily for a period of three months.
What Are The Side Effects Of Turmeric?
The following are the side effects of turmeric(18):
1. Can Be Detrimental For Gallbladder:
In case a person is suffering from gallbladder problems like gallstone or an obstruction in the bile duct then turmeric can worsen the condition.
2. Lowering Of Blood Sugar:
People suffering from diabetes and already taking diabetes medicine need to take turmeric carefully as curcumin present in it may lower blood sugar too much.
3. Could Be Harmful For People With Bleeding Disorder:
As curcumin present in turmeric may slow down clotting of blood, it is not advised for the people with bleeding disorder. There may be increased chances of bleeding and bruising in them.
4. Possibility Of Worsening Certain Hormone Sensitive Health Conditions:
Cautious use of turmeric is advised in case of endometriosis, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, uterine fibroids and uterine cancer as curcumin may act as the hormone estrogen.
5. Stomach Upset:
There are chances that turmeric may cause stomach upset especially in people suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease. In that case, it should not be consumed.
6. Interferes With Iron Absorption:
Turmeric in large doses can cause iron deficiency. So, people who suffer from anemia should be careful.Pre and post surgery you can avoid turmeric as it has the potential of slowing down blood clotting.
7. Might Reduce Levels Of Testosterone:
It might affect fertility especially in men by affecting testosterone levels and sperm motility.
Are There Any Drug Interactions With Turmeric?
Antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs that are used for controlling or slowing blood clotting might interact with turmeric. Some of these include clopidogrel, aspirin, diclofenac, naproxen, ibuprofen, heparin, dalteparin, warfarin, enoxaparin etc.(18)