Is turmeric the solution to all your problems? In my experience it sure can be. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used as a spice and medicinal herb for ages in India and China. It has diverse healing powers and in the past few decades, a lot of research has been done to confirm its traditional uses. No spice is as popular to research as turmeric.

It Has an Anti-Inflammatory Effect

Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin which has a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effect. I’ve used turmeric for a long time to treat arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout because it alleviates inflammation and joint pain. It‘s also effective against various digestive disorders such as gastritis, stomach ulcers and cramps. Additionally, turmeric can help with nausea, hepatitis, obesity, type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of gallstones.

Turmeric Protects Your Circulatory System

Turmeric is known for strengthening the heart as it can lower both blood pressure and cholesterol. Furthermore, it increases blood flow and reduces hemorrhoids.

It Strengthens the Nervous System and Brain Functioning

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, stimulates the BDNF factor (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which supports the growth of new nerve cells and reduces the degeneration of the brain. Through this, turmeric works against depression, stimulates brain functioning and reduces the risk of Alzheimers.

It Strengthens the Immune System

Turmeric is traditionally used to support the immune system and reducing the risk of catching a cold or the flu. Also, I‘ve often seen it help with a sore throat, coughing, asthma and bronchitis.

Turmeric Root

Turmeric is Good for Women

Turmeric is well known for being useful for many women‘s health issues. It works well against menstrual cramps and premenstrual tension, while also helping regulate irregular periods. Turmeric is also used against benign tumors, endometriosis and vaginal discharge.

It Can Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Research has shown that curcumin has a powerful antioxidative effect and can counteract the growth of cancer cells. It can reduce the risk of cancer forming and spreading, especially colon cancer.

Turmeric for the Skin

Turmeric is rich in antioxidative and anti-inflammatory substances which have a good effect on the skin by maintaining its glow and natural radiance. Also, it‘s traditional to use turmeric to heal cuts and help with eczema and psoriasis. In addition to that, turmeric is known for decreasing acne and healing acne scars.

Black Pepper and Turmeric

Research on turmeric has shown that absorption of curcumin in the digestive tract multiplies if black pepper is taken at the same time. Fat also helps with the absorption of turmeric. In India it‘s traditional to use turmeric and pepper together in cuisine. Another tradition is blending turmeric with milk and drinking cold or warm. Turmeric gives a beautiful yellow color to food and drink.

Research on Turmeric

Over 2.700 studies have been done on turmeric in the past few decades and most of them have revolved around curcumin. If you take a look at the clinical studies that have been done on turmeric you‘ll see there are many interesting findings.

  • A clinical study on 50 people with chronic leukemia (CML) revealed that those who were given turmeric concurrently with cancer drugs showed more improvement than the ones that only received the cancer drug.
  • A study on 33 men with benign prostate enlargement showed that those who received turmeric concurrently with other medical treatments had considerably better results than those who didn‘t receive turmeric.
  • A clinical study on 107 people with osteoarthritis in knees showed that turmeric was as effective as conventional painkillers. Another study on 120 people with the same disease showed that turmeric was effective, despite the fact that the active ingredient curcumin had been removed.
  • Research on people with type 2 diabetes showed the positive effect of turmeric on microangiopathy and kidney diseases related to diabetes.
  • Clinical studies on turmeric have also shown its positive effect on gastritis and indigestion.
  • A study on three patients with Alzheimer’s showed big improvement with the intake of turmeric for three months.

All of these studies have been clinical, i.e. been done on humans, but in addition to that many studies have been done in labs and on animals. These studies have demonstrated that turmeric or curcumin can lower blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure while having a positive effect on depression, asthma, Parkinson‘s disease, cardiovascular diseases, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, eye diseases and obesity. Last but not least, over 1000 studies have shown that turmeric can slow down the growth of cancer cells.

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Appendino G, Belcaro G, et al. Potential role of curcumin phytosome (Meriva) in controlling the evolution of diabetic microangiopathy. A pilot study. Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep;53(3 Suppl 1):43-9.

Biswas J, Sinha D, et al. Curcumin protects DNA damage in a chronically arsenic-exposed population of West Bengal. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2010 Jun;29(6):513-24.

Botanical Safety Handbook. 2013. AHPA (American Herbal Products Association). 2. útg. CRC Press, Florida, USA.

Cheng AL, Hsu CH, et al. Phase I clinical trial of curcumin, a chemopreventive agent, in patients with high-risk or pre-malignant lesions. Anticancer Res. 2001 Jul-Aug;21(4B):2895-900.

Di Mario F, Cavallaro LG, et al. A curcumin-based 1-week triple therapy for eradication of Helicobacter pylori infection: something to learn from failure? Helicobacter. 2007 Jun;12(3):238-43.

Ghalaut VS, Sangwan L, et al. Effect of imatinib therapy with and without turmeric powder on nitric oxide levels in chronic myeloid leukemia. J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2012 Jun;18(2):186-90.

Gupta SC, Patchva S, Aggarwal BB. Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials. AAPS J. 2013 Jan;15(1):195-218.

Khajehdehi P, Pakfetrat M, et al. Oral supplementation of turmeric attenuates proteinuria, transforming growth factor-β and interleukin-8 levels in patients with overt type 2 diabetic nephropathy: a randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study. Scand J Urol Nephrol. 2011 Nov;45(5):365-70.

Kuptniratsaikul V, Thanakhumtorn S, et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):891-7.

Lopresti AL, Hood SD, Drummond PD. Multiple antidepressant potential modes of action of curcumin: a review of its anti-inflammatory, monoaminergic, antioxidant, immune-modulating and neuroprotective effects. J Psychopharmacol. 2012 Dec;26(12):1512-24.

Madhu K, Chanda K, Saji MJ. Safety and efficacy of Curcuma longa extract in the treatment of painful knee osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Inflammopharmacology. 2013 Apr;21(2):129-36.

Nozomi Hishikawa, Yoriko Takahashi, et al. Effects of turmeric on Alzheimer’s disease with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Ayu. 2012 Oct-Dec; 33(4): 499-504.

Warning

Big doses of curcumin over a long period of time can irritate the mucosa of the stomach and cause inflammation and ulcers. Big doses of turmeric powder or turmeric capsules are not recommended for women who struggle with infertility. Very big doses of turmeric can cause nausea and diarrhea. It is not recommended to take big doses of turmeric while also taking blood thinners. Turmeric has been known to irritate the skin if it comes into a lot of contact with it.

About the Author

Anna Rósa is a medical herbalist and author of the bestselling book Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses. She’s the CEO and founder of Anna Rósa Skincare and a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists in UK. It’s the oldest herbalist institute in the world, founded in 1894.

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Anna Rósa CEO and Founder of Anna Rósa Skincare