11 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin (Evidence-based)

turmeric

Turmeric and curcumin are two names that are often used interchangeably. However, they have very different uses and effects on the body, with turmeric being the spice and curcumin being the active ingredient that gives turmeric its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In this article, we will take a look at what turmeric is and what studies have found over the last few years in terms of its health benefits.

What are turmeric and curcumin?

Turmeric has long been used as a spice in curries, but it’s also been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. Turmeric is in fact a member of the ginger family, which makes sense when you consider how much both are relied upon to flavor food.

The primary component that gives turmeric its bright yellow color and medicinal properties is curcumin. Curcumin has become known as one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory agents and may also play a role in preventing or slowing down certain diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Turmeric nutrition

The following nutritional values are presented by the National Nutrient Database (USDA) as per 1 tablespoon of turmeric:

  • 29 calories
  • 0.91g protein
  • 0.31g fats
  • 6.31g carbs
  • 2g fibre
  • 0.42mg vitamin E (3% DV)
  • 1.861mg Manganese (81% DV)
  • 5.17mg Iron (29% DV)
  • 0.122mg Copper (14% DV)
  • 20mg Magnesium (5% DV)
  • 196mg Potassium (4% DV)
  • 0.42mg Zinc (4% DV)
  • 28mg Phosphorous (2% DV)
  • Traces of choline, vitamin K, B3, B5, calcium and selenium.

** The percent daily value (% DV) is the percentage of the daily requirement for each nutrient in the serving for an average adult.This may differ if you struggle with certain medical conditions. **

12 Proven Health benefits of turmeric and curcumin

turmeric powder

Various studies have shown that this spice has several benefits. Studies show that it can help with wound healing, reducing inflammation in people with arthritis, preventing bowel cancer, helping to lower cholesterol levels and improve gut health by reducing bloating.

Here’s the list of proven health benefits.

1) Curcumin Treats depression

The benefits of turmeric extend beyond pain relief to mental health: Research has shown that curcumin can be used as an antidepressant, thanks to its ability to reduce depression-like symptoms.

Curcumin is the main curcuminoid found in turmeric (Curcuma longa), and it can reduce the symptoms of depression thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

A 2019 meta analysis (study of studies) analysed 7 major studies on people who suffered with chronic depression. This analysis found that curcumin can be used as an effective anti-depressant. [1].

A 2017 study performed six clinical trials with a total of 377 patients. The results were clear – it can significantly reduce symptoms of depression. Three of those trials also showed an improvement in anxiety symptoms [2].

2) Turmeric Extract Relieves pain

It is well-known that turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, turmeric is up to 10 times more potent than aspirin at reducing inflammation and pain. This makes it a great supplement for anyone who suffers from joint pain or arthritis, as well as those who are recovering from an injury or surgery. Clinical studies have shown that curcumin can reduce joint swelling by 40 percent in just three months.

A 2016 clinical study analysed the effects of turmeric extract and curcumin on arthritis. It was found that the extract, in fact, can be an effective treatment for arthritis [3].

3) Improves digestion

Many people find digestive problems really uncomfortable and alarming. The truth is that digestive issues commonly arise due to poor gut health. Poor gut health refers to an imbalance between bacteria in your digestive tract. If there are more bad bacteria than good, it can truly affect your health in a variety of ways. Learn more about gut health using the Nutrition2change Gut Health 101 Guide.

Everything we eat in a day has an effect on our gut health. Some foods cause inflammation whilst others can damage the good bacteria residing in our digestive tract. As you know now, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory food, and it can be used to treat numerous digestive disorders like:

  • Dyspepsia – Dyspepsia refers to imbalance between good and bad bacteria. This spice helps bring balance back in your microbiome [4].
  • Peptic ulcers – Peptic ulcers are open sores that can develop on the stomach lining or the small intestine. Turmeric and curcumin have shown to support complete healing of the ulcers [5].
  • IBS – IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and it refers to inflammation within the gut. This can lead to symptoms like cramping, bloating, and smelly and burny gas. Turmeric has been proven to reduce the severity of symptoms associated with IBS [6].
  • Crohn’s disease – Crohn’s disease is another inflammatory disorder of the gut. It is a type of IBS disorder. Studies show that it can reduce the symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease [7].
  • Ulcerative colitis – Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the lower end of the big intestine and rectum. The most common symptom include things like diarrhoea, bloody stool and stomach aches. Some studies suggest that turmeric and curcumin are great for improving the symptoms of this inflammatory disorder [8].
  • GERD – GERD stands for Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease, and it is a condition where the stomach acid rises to the oesophagus. Frequent acid reflux can weaken the lining of the stomach and oesophagus. This can lead to stomach ulcers and inflammation. Studies show that this spice can positively affect the stomach acid [9].

4) Protects against cancer

Another proven benefit of turmeric is that it can protect you against cancer.

Studies have shown that curcumin, can help prevent various types of cancer by inhibiting tumor growth. It has been demonstrated to be effective against lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, skin cancer and leukemia. It’s also been shown to not only improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but it also protects DNA from damage caused by radiation therapy [10].

Other studies show that curcumin inhibits the initiation of cancer, spread and limits its growth [11].

5) Curcumin reduces inflammation

Inflammation (swelling) of tissues, organs and cells can lead to a variety of health problems and diseases. Some research has shown inflammation to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, cardiovascular disease, cancer, allergy, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, depression, and fatigue [12].

Curcumin and turmeric reduce inflammation by blocking several inflammatory stimuli [12].

6) Protects your liver

Cirrhosis (liver damage) is often triggered by toxic overloads, which can be caused by too much alcohol or exposure to a virus like hepatitis, says Dr. Guarneri. By offering protection to your liver, you’re preventing overworking and damage that could cause liver failure. And because turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, it’s also helping clear out damaging substances from your blood stream that may be causing other side effects like fatigue or skin discoloration [13].

7) Combats heart disease

Heart disease is caused by many factors like lack of exercise, poor eating habits, smoking and alcohol. All these things can lead to a build of cholesterol in your arteries which block blood flow. to the heart. As a result, the heart is forced to work harder and pump more blood. This pressure on the heart can lead to heart disease.

If you don’t know much about eating healthy, check out this 21-day meal plan. On the other hand, if you don’t know much about exercising, you can also take a look at this 12-week weight loss program.

Many studies represent turmeric as a wonder spice in protecting your heart health. The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin prevents and treats irregular heart rhythms [14].

8) Prevents kidney stones

Kidney stones are small mineral deposits that are made within the kidneys. They are caused by many factors like lack of exercise, consuming too much salt and sugar, and dehydration.

Although there are contradicting studies whether turmeric prevents kidney stones or not, there are plenty studies that show positive results. For example, a 2013 study shows that the antioxidant properties of curcumin can reduce the risk of kidney stones [15]. However, turmeric supplements also contain oxalates which can increase the risk of kidney stones.

9) Improves symptoms of hay fever

Many turmeric users say it eases their symptoms of hay fever, making it one of nature’s best remedies for allergies. Some research shows that it reduces hay fever symptoms like sneezing, itching, congestion and runny nose [16]. It also fights inflammation, which is believed to play a role in allergic reactions. If you have allergies, try taking curcumin supplements or adding more of it to your diet. Be sure to talk with your doctor first about adding new supplements to your routine and keep in mind that it can take several weeks before you notice a difference.

10) Strengthens your immune system

One of turmeric’s most powerful properties is its anti-inflammatory effects. Research suggests that curcumin, may help improve your immune system. In one study, scientists examined 60 people who had rheumatoid arthritis for three months. After taking daily doses of a curcumin extract for six weeks, participants’ joint swelling had decreased by 50 percent on average. They also experienced reduced pain and stiffness in their hands, as well as improvements in overall physical function compared to patients who didn’t take curcumin supplements at all.

11) Curcumin may reduce the risk of age-related diseases

Age-related diseases are commonly caused by a build up of oxidative stress, poor immune system and inflammation. Since it has the power to mitigate all those problems, it only makes sense that it also reduces the risk of age-related problems [17].

Side effects and dosage

Turmeric is a healthy spice that has been proven to provide many health benefits. However, too much of anything isn’t healthy.

Taking supplements that contain 8g of turmeric should only be taken short-term – up to 2 months. If, on the other hand, you are adding turmeric spice in powder form to your meals, then you can consume up to 3g for up to 3 months.

If you consume any more or longer than that then you can experience stomach pain and bloating.

Precautions

  • Taking or consuming this spice is not always safe. It’s worth speaking to a doctor if:
  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • trying for a baby
  • struggle with gallbladder problems
  • already developed liver disease
  • if your family has a history of cancer

Speak to your doctor before taking or consuming turmeric as it can affect your body in a variety of ways.

Does it interact with certain medicines?

Yes, it’s a strong spice and it can interact with certain medications. This includes medications for blood clotting, blood sugar levels, cancer, liver disease, and imbalanced hormones. Always speak to your doctor before changing up your routine or dietary intake. Don’t use this as medical advice.

Summary

Turmeric is a wonderful spice with anti-inflammatory properties that may improve health. In this article, we have taken a look at 11 proven health benefits of both turmeric and curcumin since curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this article and be sure to leave your questions in the comments section below. If you’d like any support with your health, be sure to speak to your doctor or a nutritionist who can help you.

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