Are you looking for a way to boost every facet of your health with a single spice? It sounds crazy, but turmeric may be the magic supplement we've been seeking. Turmeric benefits the body and mind in more ways than you can imagine. Similar to the benefits of bone broth, turmeric impacts almost every facet of life. Over 10,000 peer-reviewed and clinical studies support using turmeric for better health.
What is turmeric good for? Almost everything. Regardless of your health goals, turmeric can help you reach them. Some benefits include helping with weight loss, inflammation, arthritis, skin, and pain relief. Turmeric can even help prevent acne, cancer, allergies, diabetes, joint pain, and depression. We will cover all the health benefits and turmeric uses in detail below.
What is Turmeric?
What is turmeric? Turmeric is the main spice in curry, a well-known Indian dish. The fine yellow powder derives from the ground roots of the Curcuma longa plant. Curcuma longa's presence in Southeast Asia led to the widespread use of turmeric. You’ve likely seen turmeric tea and other turmeric recipes continuing the tradition.
The historical practices of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have significant validity. These timeless principles used natural herbs and spices as remedies for common ailments. Our ancestors were ahead of the curve when they studied the medicinal uses of turmeric.
Turmeric vs. Curcumin
What is the difference between turmeric and curcumin? It's important to understand that these are not interchangeable terms. There is a distinct difference in curcumin vs. turmeric supplements.
Turmeric contains several chemical compounds which we refer to as “curcuminoids.” The active curcuminoid in turmeric responsible for its therapeutic properties is curcumin. The standard curcumin content of turmeric is only about 3-6%. When buying a turmeric supplement, make sure it contains 95% curcuminoids.
10 Turmeric Curcumin Health Benefits and Uses
1. Assists Weight Loss & Prevents Obesity
Scientific studies show that among the many turmeric uses is weight management. Like using MCT oil for keto diets, turmeric can assist fat loss. While it does not replace regular exercise or a healthy diet, it can make both processes easier. Dieters can use turmeric for weight loss in many foods—smoothies, teas, soups, and even broths.
One study examined overweight people with metabolic syndrome in a randomized, controlled trial. Turmeric proved to be effective in reducing body fat and lowering BMI in obese people. Patients tolerated turmeric supplementation over 30 days without any adverse side effects.
Although the science is not yet exact, there are many mechanisms of action in play. One mechanism involves an interaction between curcumin and “white” fat tissue. This kind of fat tissue stores energy and accumulates around the hips and buttocks.
The white fat tissue then transforms into “brown” fat tissue. Brown fat tissue generates heat, which burns calories instead of storing them. This phenomenon explains the connection between turmeric and weight loss.
One of the major health issues suffered by obese people is chronic inflammation. Untreated inflammation leads to diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Turmeric reduces the expression of genes and proteins associated with inflammation. This benefit of turmeric improves health for people suffering from obesity.
2. Helps Arthritis & Joint Pain Relief
Arthritis is a common and painful disorder in the United States. Estimates show that roughly 54 million adults currently have some form of arthritis. Joint pain is common in people with other health conditions. It’s a disease that can diminish your productivity and energy levels.
One popular medical use of turmeric involves treating arthritis and joint pain. Other options, such as non-steroidal inflammatory drugs, can often cause heart-related problems. Thus, scientists favor nutrition-based plans for managing joint pain. Turmeric for arthritis is now a mainstream natural remedy.
Not only does turmeric benefit inflammation, but it’s also a natural pain reliever. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the swelling that often causes pain and discomfort. Curcumin stops tissue degeneration while suppressing substances that destroy healthy cells. A study in 2006 showed that turmeric prevents inflammation better than suppressing it.
If you have tried other options with no success, turmeric for joint pain is another option. Turmeric works best with a physical rehab plan. A good plan lowers joint stiffness and improves mobility. Make sure that turmeric supplementation doesn't interfere with any medications you are taking.
3. Fights Chronic Inflammation & Slows Aging
A primary cause of aging is the presence of free radicals in your body. While genetics plays a part, free radicals often derive from lifestyle habits. Lack of exposure to sun, smoking, and an unhealthy diet are the main culprits. Free radicals can cause damage to your DNA, leading to premature cell death.
The body naturally fights free radicals through antioxidants. Antioxidants counteract free radicals preventing them from causing damage. But the body can't always produce enough. Providing antioxidants is one of the many health benefits of turmeric supplements.
Turmeric contains an extremely high concentration of antioxidants. It also increases the body's production of antioxidants, leading to slower aging. Slowing an inevitable aging process is one of the most common turmeric uses. Nutrition, exercise, and healthy natural sleep are crucial as well. But antioxidant-rich diets are a universal anti-aging solution.
Chronic inflammation arises when the body’s inflammatory response goes untreated. This scenario is where turmeric for inflammation comes into play. It's important to note that inflammation on its own is a natural process. It stops damaged tissues from experiencing further damage. However, it is dangerous when overactive. High-stress levels and environmental toxins can lead to excessive inflammation.
Turmeric slows the production of chemicals called eicosanoids. Eicosanoids trigger inflammation. In doing so, it returns the body's eicosanoid levels to normal. Some studies show that curcumin may be more effective than certain inflammation-treating drugs. In most cases, curcumin is less harmful than existing options.
4. Improves Skin Health & Reduces Acne
What are the benefits of turmeric for skin? Curcumin can improve your skin health by protecting it from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The primary source of UV radiation is the sun's rays. Excessive exposure to UV rays can lead to sunburns, damaged DNA, and some skin cancers. Sunscreen and limited exposure to skin can help, but sometimes it's not enough. This fact holds true for people who live in areas with lots of bright sunlight.
Curcumin can prevent premature skin cell death induced by UV rays. It can also inhibit dangerous free radicals created by excessive exposure to UV rays. This turmeric health benefit prevents damage to the skin and stops rapid aging.
Another way that curcumin improves skin health is by supporting elastin formation. Elastin is a protein produced by the body that makes your skin smooth and elastic. When you pinch your skin, and it returns to normal, that is due to elastin.
When we age, our skin begins to lose some of its elasticity. One reason is the increased presence of elastase. Elastase is an enzyme that prevents elastin development. Turmeric supplements work by lessening the formation of elastase. Reduced elastase build-up leaves you with healthy skin.
Curcumin also helps with the reduction of acne. Acne has several causes. Fluctuating hormone levels is the usual culprit. Fluctuating hormones leads to excess sebum production, which clogs our pores with bacteria.
The bacteria often responsible for acne is Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). As curcumin is antibacterial, it reduces P. acne formation and thus helps get rid of acne. Although you can consume more curcumin, using turmeric as part of a special paste can work as well.
5. Helps Treat and Manage Disease
The usefulness of turmeric also extends to treating and managing various chronic diseases. Over the past two decades, scientific research discovered many benefits of turmeric curcumin. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin make it a multi-purpose health supplement. Using turmeric for immune system health is an excellent way to improve longevity.
There has been an extensive investigation into curcumin's anticancer properties. It turns out that curcumin can slow the growth of cancer cells. It can also prevent them from spreading around the body via metastasis. Most importantly, it can target cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.
Curcumin seems to be more effective for certain types of cancers. These types include colorectal cancer and breast cancer. One study reported a 40% reduction in cancerous colon lesions in men who took four grams of curcumin a day. Turmeric for cancer prevention is a safe way to receive an additional boost in immunity.
Turmeric curcumin benefits the management of diabetes as well. Curcumin can lower and stabilize blood sugar levels. It can also prevent people with prediabetes from developing Type 2 diabetes. It’s capable of doing so because curcumin improves beta cell function. Beta cells can secrete insulin, which lowers blood sugar concentration. This reaction is why many medical professionals recommend turmeric for diabetes.
However, turmeric supplements also lower the likelihood of diabetes-related diseases. Fatty liver disease (FLD) is one prominent example. Excess fat tissue builds up in your liver, leading to irreversible damage. Curcumin can also treat and reduce the risk of FLD.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Nearly 60 million people living in the US have some form of hypertension. Left untreated, it can lead to more severe health problems. These include strokes and heart attacks. Turmeric for blood pressure regulation can help.
Hypertension derives from constricted blood vessels causing reduced blood flow. Curcumin helps high blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. Turmeric regulates the receptors responsible for vessel constriction.
Many of the best nootropics can help prevent neurodegenerative diseases. Another of many uses for turmeric is for treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Once again, Curcumin provides this remarkable health benefit. However, there are many mechanisms of action through which this happens.
One mechanism related to Alzheimer's is the formation of free radicals. These free radicals break down neurons in the brain, which leads to neurodegeneration. This trend appears in Parkinson's disease and other related neurodegenerative diseases. Turmeric for Alzheimer's prevention is a way to counteract this natural degeneration. Curcumin's mechanism of action involves lowering the formation and spread of free radicals.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Curcumin shows great promise in treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This turmeric benefit appears in studies conducted in animals, adults, and children.
IBD takes place when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract shows inflammation. Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and extreme fatigue.
Curcumin works by inhibiting the production of enzymes and proteins responsible for inflammation. Turmeric supplements also prevent bad enzymes from migrating to the inflammation site.
Turmeric for cholesterol regulation is a common usage as well. There are two cholesterol types: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is “bad” cholesterol since it often leads to plaque formation. Excess plaque restricts blood flow and increases your risk of a heart attack. HDL is the “good” cholesterol because it prevents artery damage and acts against LDL.
Curcumin plays a vital role in regulating cholesterol. One study showed that 500 mg of curcumin taken daily lowered LDL levels by 33% in patients over seven days. That same study showed an increase of 29% in HDL levels!
Curcumin's primary contribution towards heart disease is preventing it. Turmeric and heart disease is a popular subject among adults, and for a good reason. Many studies show that supplementing curcumin lowers the risk of heart complications. These include heart failure and myocardial infarction (MI).
Curcumin lowers risk by improving the function and structure of your arteries. This health benefit allows for smoother blood circulation. It also makes them more resilient to the force exerted on them by every heartbeat.
A blood clot is a lump of hardened blood that forms when an injury leads to blood loss. It is the body's way of preventing further blood loss. The clots usually dissolve after the wound heals. If they don't, it leads to the formation of blood clots that restrict blood flow in the entire body. Medical professionals refer to this condition as thrombosis.
The benefits of turmeric not only include blood pressure but blood clots as well. Curcumin works by reducing the size of blood clots or preventing their formation. More studies are being done to see if curcumin can dissolve blood clots altogether. Be careful using turmeric while on anticoagulants. Blood that is too thin can be problematic as well.
Did you know that you can use turmeric for colds? Curcumin has antiviral properties. Antiviral means it will fight viruses associated with the common cold. It works by preventing the infection from replicating. For instance, curcumin can prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) replication. RSV is a recurrent cause of respiratory tract disease and bronchitis.
Curcumin's high antioxidant concentration also helps strengthen the body's immune system. Strengthened immunity leads to better resistance against various diseases, including the common cold.
6. Reduces Allergies
Turmeric supplements are even effective in treating allergies and their symptoms. An allergy takes place when your immune system over-reacts to foreign substances. We refer to these substances as “allergens.” Your body mistakenly identifies them as harmful, triggering an immune system response.
Our body’s response leads to the release of histamines. When histamine release occurs, it causes allergy-related symptoms. The symptoms experienced depend on the allergen itself. They can affect different bodily systems, and the effects range from mild to severe.
Turmeric benefits allergies by inhibiting the release of histamines. Histamine inhibition treats allergic symptoms and reduces the frequency of allergic reactions.
One study examined the effects of turmeric for allergies on patients with hay fever. Curcumin reduced symptoms by 70% (sneezing, swollen eyes, stuffy nose, etc.). The improvements lasted long after the administered treatment.
A 2015 study in mice showed that curcumin could reduce the effects of food allergy symptoms. The results suggested that curcumin could be equally useful for other allergies. This benefit is significant, as turmeric's side effects are either minor or non-existent.
7. Enhances Brain Function
Can curcumin make you smarter and happier? Scientific research says using turmeric as a brain supplement can work. Curcumin is a major supporter of brain health. For example, it can increase the bioavailability of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is a vital energy source for the brain, allowing it to make new neural connections.
Curcumin can also benefit “neuroplasticity.” Neuroplasticity allows for the creation and deletion of neural connections. It is how you eliminate bad habits while forming good habits. Neuroplasticity enables you to learn new skills and become better at them.
Depression and Anxiety
The mental health benefits of turmeric are significant as well. Multiple clinical trials show that a turmeric supplement can safely treat depression. Some studies show that curcumin enhances the effects of antidepressants. Curcumin helps depression by balancing the brain chemicals responsible for mood enhancement.
As for anxiety, it turns out that DHA plays a major role. Curcumin also boosts DHA production, which serves as an anxiolytic. Additionally, a 2015 study measured curcumin's effect on anxiety in obese individuals. Participants reported significant reductions in their anxious feelings.
A study performed in older adults found that curcumin can improve memory retention. Not only could subjects remember more information, but their attention span increased. They also experienced reduced fatigued and increased feelings of calmness.
Curcumin can also reverse memory problems, according to a 2018 psychiatry study. People with mild memory problems who took curcumin improved their retention by 28%. Not only that, but they also felt slightly less depressed.
8. Aids in Liver Detoxification
Liver detoxification is an essential bodily process. It removes toxins from the blood while storing vitamins and minerals. Using turmeric for liver detox is a growing trend. There are many more functions, but the liver plays a vital role in optimal health.
When the liver cannot detoxify properly, it fails to break down dangerous substances. These substances enter the bloodstream and damage the body. Therefore, it is vital to help the liver function and avoid overworking it.
Curcumin aids the liver's ability to detoxify the body. At the same time, it lowers the damage caused by harmful agents. Turmeric curcumin helps detoxification by targeting substances the liver can’t handle.
Curcumin can also lower the damage done to liver cells by dangerous substances. It does so by interrupting the pathways that aid inflammation. This benefit falls in line with curcumin's anti-inflammatory properties.
Finally, curcumin simulates the release of bile from the gallbladder. Bile prevents the formation of harmful substances from alcohol. It also helps the liver eliminate unwanted waste products from the body.
9. Enhances Antioxidant Capacity
As previously mentioned, the curcumin in turmeric is a very potent antioxidant. By reacting with free radicals, antioxidants prevent critical damage to our cells. These items include DNA and proteins responsible for gene expression. Free radicals are responsible for several chronic diseases such as cancer and cataracts. This benefit is why turmeric supplements are now in the mainstream health conversation.
Curcumin can also increase the activity of your body's antioxidant enzymes. Antioxidants provide your body with a solid defense against chronic inflammation. There are several ongoing studies on curcumin's antioxidant properties for treating various diseases. The health benefits from turmeric derive from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
10. Helps Headaches & Migraines
What is the difference between migraines and headaches? A headache is a mild to severe pain in your head that occurs on both sides and lasts a few minutes to several days. A migraine is an intense pain that usually affects one side of the head. Both can reduce focus and concentration and cause immense discomfort.
People usually experience weird sensations a few minutes before a migraine. There are also symptoms with migraines not seen in headaches. These can include seeing blind spots, and feelings of dizziness.
Supplementing turmeric for headaches can help. Curcumin primarily relieves headaches and migraines through the reduction of pain. By reducing one's sensitivity to pain, curcumin helps with pain relief and discomfort.
While the mechanism of action is uncertain, it may have to do with inflammation. Inflammation can lead to the production of pain stimuli. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory agent. Thus, it helps reduce pain-associated inflammation.
Final Thoughts on Health Benefits of Turmeric Curcumin
What are the benefits of turmeric? We have shown many proven medicinal benefits of using turmeric. Whether you want to treat a disease or slim down, there are several positive uses. Reducing inflammation and boosting immunity can substantially improve longevity. Turmeric can even cure brain fog and assist with anti-aging.
Turmeric alone will not absorb well enough to experience positive health benefits. Experts recommend consuming your turmeric supplement with piperine (black pepper extract). Piperine enhances bioavailability and absorption into the bloodstream. BioPerine is a common form of peperine used to improve turmeric absorption. Turmeric is a remarkable spice and should be a part of everyone’s daily vitamin stack.