Turmeric: 6 Health Benefits of an Ancient Spice

Turmeric: 6 Health Benefits of an Ancient Spice

Allison LansmanAugust 20, 2020

Turmeric is an ancient spice valued for both its medicinal and culinary properties.

It can possibility benefit your health if you supplement with turmeric beyond your basic bowl of curry.

Turmeric and its active ingredients have the potential to may help reduce inflammation, may boost your skin health, provide antioxidants, may improve brain function, may help fight depression symptoms, and promote healthy aging.

 

What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric is an ancient spice from the turmeric root.

This distinct yellow powder has been used throughout Asia for centuries. Its valued for both its medicinal and culinary properties, being a main ingredient in curries (1).

Curcumin is the main active component in turmeric, providing many of its medicinal benefits associated with inflammation and antioxidants (1).

 

6 Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric provides host of health benefits.

Including – reducing inflammation, boosting skin health, having antioxidant power, improving brain function, fighting depression, and promoting healthy aging.

 

  1. Reduces Inflammation

Curcumin, the main active compound in turmeric, is highly effective at reducing inflammation.

Though inflammation is important in the body’s repair process after an illness or injury, long-term inflammation can cause mild to severe damage to the body’s tissues.

Curcumin blocks signals to begin inflammation within the cells, limiting the amount of inflammation in the body. And stopping chronic inflammation that can cause permanent damage (2).

 

  1. Has Antioxidant Power

Turmeric and curcumin not only provide antioxidant power to the body and cells, but also boost the body’s antioxidant capacity and activating your natural antioxidant enzymes (2).

Improving your body’s antioxidants is important because it assists with fighting oxidative damage caused by free radicals – common particles that cause damage to your cells.

 

  1. Boosts Skin Health

Turmeric also provides cosmetic benefits to the skin.

Not only does it assist in treating conditions that cause discomfort to the skin, but it also improves healing of wounds and acne scars and boosts the skin’s natural glow (3).

These benefits are brought primarily by and its ability to reduce inflammation for the skin and boost healing with its antioxidant power (3).

 

  1. Improves Brain Function

Curcumin can boost the brain’s ability to function by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (2). This hormone is responsible for improving how neurons in the brain grow, multiply, connect – all important functions of a healthy brain.

This compounds assists the brain in continuing to produce ample brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which has been linked to a boost in brain function and reduction in memory loss (2).

 

  1. Fights Depression Symptoms

Similarly to how curcumin improves the general function of the brain, it also helps fight the symptoms of depression.

Depression has been linked to reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which curcumin helps to boost (2).

There has been some evidence that curcumin has the ability to boost brain neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine (2).

 

  1. Promotes Healthy Aging

Turmeric is a very popular anti-aging supplement due to all the benefits listed above.

It keeps the brain health, can help prevent aging of the skin, and can assist with staving off diseases linked to chronic inflammation and free radical oxidation (2).

 

Dosage of Turmeric and Curcumin

There is currently no exact dosage recommendations of turmeric, both for powdered and extract forms.

The typical dosage of turmeric per day is between 500 - 2,000 mg; which is a wide range (4).

Certain health issues have more specific recommendations, including (4):

 

  • Osteoarthritis: 500 mg turmeric extract, twice per day
  • Itchy, irritated skin: 500 mg turmeric extract, three times per day

In turmeric powders and extract is where curcumin is contained. In the range of 500 - 2,000 mg turmeric per day, 3% of this total dosage in turmeric is curcumin in powders. In turmeric extract, curcumin content can be up to 95% (4).

However, high doses of turmeric and curcumin is not recommended. Studies have concluded  high, long-term use to be unsafe (4).

 

Risks and Potential Side Effects

Like any supplement, turmeric also comes with its potential risks and side effects.

Though this spice is well tolerated and believed safe for most individuals, there are some with certain conditions who should avoid supplementing with turmeric and curcumin. These include (4):

 

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding
  • Urinary problems
  • Iron-deficient
  • High blood sugar

Other side effects occurring when consuming high doses of turmeric are (HL dose):

 

  • Allergic reactions
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Of course, ‘supplementation’ with turmeric means consuming greater amounts then would be eating during a meal that turmeric is being used to season.

 

Seek advice from a medical professional

It is always important to seek the advice of a trusted medical professional before adding a herbal supplement to your daily routine.

Also, reach out if you ever experience discomfort or side effects when using a new health product.

 

Author: Allison Lansman, RDN, LD

 

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-vs-curcumin
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/turmeric-for-skin
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-dosage

 

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