Turmeric (Curcuma longa), like many spices, has a long history of use in traditional medicine. This flavorful spice is primarily cultivated in India and other parts of Southeast Asia from the rhizomes, or roots, of a flowering plant. Aside from giving curry its vibrant yellow color, turmeric is also known for having potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Curcumin is the major active component of turmeric, and it is responsible for the spice’s distinctive yellow hue. In reality, curcumin is the molecule responsible for the majority of turmeric’s possible health advantages.

Curcumin is a natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, as well as [theoretical] advantages linked to slowing the aging process, avoiding Alzheimer’s disease, and perhaps depression. As you get older, increasing your Turmeric consumption can help you get the anti-inflammatory treatment you need.

Turmeric (Curcumin) and 12 Health Benefits Backed by Studies

Turmeric (and curcumin on its own) does not enter well into the circulation, and eating it in curry once a month is unlikely to provide the necessary anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. To get the quantities of turmeric and curcumin demonstrated to be effective in scientific studies and to be beneficial, you’ll need to take supplements.

Still, you may be able to gain advantages by including black pepper into your turmeric recipes and/or taking a turmeric pill that contains black pepper. There is a component called piperine in black pepper that really helps to make turmeric more bioavailable.

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The amount of a drug that is absorbed or used by the body is referred to as bioavailability.  A previous research study, for example, discovered that taking 20 milligrams (mg) of piperine combined with 2 grams (g) of curcumin improved bioavailability by 2,000%. 

Here are the several possible health benefits of turmeric and curcumin…

1. Turmeric shields your body from free radicals.

Antioxidants help protect your body from free radicals, a type of highly reactive atom that is produced in our bodies as well as in environmental contaminants such as cigarette smoke and industrial toxins.

Excessive exposure to free radicals may wreak havoc on your body’s lipids, proteins, and even DNA, leading to a variety of common diseases and health problems such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

As a result, antioxidant-rich spices like turmeric may help protect you from free radical damage. According to a study published in the October 2017 edition of Foods, curcumin in particular can scavenge distinct forms of free radicals, regulate enzymes that neutralize free radicals, and inhibit certain enzymes from producing certain free radical types. 

2. Curcumin May Help Prevent Heart Disease

Curcumin has been shown in previous studies to enhance endothelial function, or the health of the thin membrane that covers the interior of the heart and blood vessels. This membrane is crucial in the regulation of blood pressure.

Reduced endothelial function is linked to aging and an increased risk of heart disease. As a result, curcumin may help guard against age-related loss of function and lower your risk of getting heart disease.

Researchers examined the effects of an eight-week aerobic exercise program and a curcumin supplement on endothelial function in postmenopausal women in one study. Endothelial function improved equally in both the exercise and curcumin groups, but not in the control group.

Another study discovered that curcumin was just as efficient as the medicine Lipitor (atorvastatin) at enhancing endothelial function in patients with type 2 diabetes (heart disease is a frequent comorbidity of type 2 diabetes) at lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

More study is needed to discover whether curcumin is a safe and effective long-term therapy option for patients suffering from heart disease.

3. Curcumin May Prevent (and Possibly Aid in the Treatment of) Cancer

Because inflammation is connected to tumor formation, anti-inflammatory substances like curcumin may be useful in treating and preventing malignancies such colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, breast, and gastric cancer.  Indeed, studies in mice shows that curcumin may help limit tumor cell spread and may even prevent tumors from developing in the first place. 

It may do this through a variety of mechanisms, including inhibiting the development of malignant cells at various phases of the cell cycle, interfering with cell signaling pathways, and even causing cancerous cells to die. 

Curcumin’s ability to treat cancer in people has yet to be determined, although study is continuing.

4. Curcumin May Aid in the Treatment or Prevention of Diabetes

Curcumin, according to a previous assessment of research, may help cure and prevent diabetes, as well as related diseases such as diabetic nephropathy (also known as diabetic kidney disease), which affects patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. One disadvantage is that many of the research were conducted on animals rather than humans.

For example, one research discovered that feeding rats with type 2 diabetes 80 mg of tetrahydrocurcumin (one of the major components of curcumin) per kg body weight for 45 days resulted in a substantial drop in blood sugar as well as an increase in plasma insulin. 

Curcumin supplements reduced lower blood insulin levels in obese mice with type 2 diabetes after 16 weeks, according to a study published in the July 2019 edition of Nutrition & Metabolism. 

Meanwhile, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may help prevent diabetes and improve many of the factors that contribute to diabetes, such as insulin resistance, high blood sugar, and hyperlipidemia (a medical term for elevated levels of fat in the blood). More human research are needed to corroborate the findings.

5. Curcumin Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

One of turmeric’s most famous claims to fame is that it is frequently used to treat inflammation, and curcumin is responsible for the majority of turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties. According to a previous study, curcumin may be a more effective anti-inflammatory therapy than conventional inflammation-fighting medicines such as Advil (ibuprofen) and aspirin in the proper amount. 

Curcumin may help treat illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and arthritis – since chronic inflammation is a factor in many chronic diseases.  We’ll go through some of those specific advantages later.

6. Curcumin May Aid in the Relief of Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Curcumin may be a safe and effective long-term therapy option for patients with osteoarthritis due to its powerful anti-inflammatory effects. In a previous research, individuals with osteoarthritis who took Meriva at a dose of 1,000 mg per day had substantial improvements in stiffness and physical function after eight months, but the control group observed no change.

Meriva is an unique therapy composed of a natural curcuminoid combination (75% curcumin, 15% demethoxycurcumin, and 10% bisdemethoxycurcumin), phosphatidylcholine (found in eggs, soybeans, and other foods), and microcrystalline cellulose (a refined wood pulp commonly used by the pharmaceutical and food industries).

 

Some research with mice published in the June 2016 edition of Arthritis Research & Therapy discovered that 50 mg oral curcumin per kilogram (kg) body weight considerably delayed the course of osteoarthritis, whereas a topical curcumin therapy offered pain alleviation. However, whether or not these advantages would apply to people remains to be established.

7. Turmeric May Aid in the Delay or Reversal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Turmeric may even protect your brain from prevalent neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. How? By raising levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor BDNF, a protein present in the brain and spinal cord that plays an important role in maintaining the health of nerve cells (neurons) as well as regulating communication between nerve cells, which is essential for learning and memory. 

Because prevalent brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s are connected with decreased levels of BDNF, turmeric (specifically curcumin) may help prevent or reverse brain deterioration. 

Having said that, much of the study has been conducted on mice. More study is needed, according to the researchers, to validate turmeric’s efficacy in the prevention and treatment of prevalent brain disorders.

8. Curcumin Could Help Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis

Curcumin has shown potential as a therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory condition that primarily affects the joints but can extend to the eyes, lungs, skin, heart, and blood vessels. Rheumatoid arthritis produces painful joint swelling, which can cause bone deterioration over time, leading to deformities and physical impairments.

People with rheumatoid arthritis were given 500 mg of curcumin, 50 mg of diclofenac sodium (a prescription anti-inflammatory medication), or the two together in one trial. 

When compared to the other two groups, the curcumin-only group experienced substantial reductions in joint pain and edema after eight weeks. The curcumin therapy was also found to be safe, with no adverse effects reported by the researchers. 

9. Turmeric Has the Potential to Improve Skin Health

Turmeric may be a useful therapy for a number of skin problems, including acne, eczema (atopic dermatitis), photoaging, and psoriasis, due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant qualities.

However, solid research is missing. According to one review published in the January 2018 issue of the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, oral curcumin in particular may be an effective and safe treatment option for psoriasis (a chronic inflammatory skin disease), but more research is needed before making recommendations. 

Another review’s authors believe that topical curcumin therapies might be beneficial in treating skin diseases, especially because previous research indicates that curcumin is reasonably safe even at large dosages. Curcumin, on the other hand, is an unattractive topical skin therapy due to its vivid yellow-orange hue, poor solubility, and poor stability at high pH. 

10. Turmeric may be useful in the treatment of depression.

Depression, like Alzheimer’s, is related with decreased levels of BDNF. Turmeric has the potential to be an effective antidepressant due to its ability to increase BDNF levels. In example, one research discovered that giving rats 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg of curcumin for 10 days resulted in a dose-dependent rise in BDNF, with the higher dose of 200 mg/kg having stronger antidepressant effects. 

Meanwhile, in a human study published in the April 2014 issue of Phytotherapy Research, researchers randomly assigned 60 patients with major depressive disorder to one of three groups: one received daily 20 mg of fluoxetine (Prozac is a common brand name), another 1,000 mg of curcumin, and a third a combination of the two.

Researchers believe curcumin may be a safe and effective therapy for major depressive disorder since the three groups showed equivalent improvements at the end of six weeks.

Still, scientists do not completely understand the role of turmeric and curcumin in the treatment of depression, and additional human study is needed to establish that it is a safe and effective therapy. 

11. Curcumin May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration

Glaucoma is a collection of eye diseases that is one of the main causes of blindness in adults over the age of 60. Unfortunately, once your vision is gone, it can never be recovered. 

However, early research published in the journal Scientific Reports in July 2018 suggests that topical curcumin therapies may help protect the eyes against degeneration. For three weeks, rats were given a unique curcumin eye drop solution twice a day. By the conclusion of the research, the untreated rats had a 23% drop in retinal cells compared to the treatment group, indicating that the curcumin therapy stopped the loss. 

The study’s findings are promising, but further research is needed to establish whether curcumin is beneficial in reducing eye deterioration in humans.

12. Turmeric May Be Effective as an Anti-Aging Supplement

Although there is no evidence that turmeric or curcumin directly influence longevity, previous research suggests that turmeric and curcumin may be effective anti-aging supplements due to their ability to fight inflammation, protect your body against free radicals, and potentially delay brain degeneration and other age-related diseases.