In golden lattes, dietary supplements, and even face masks... this bright yellow spice is enjoying consistent fame. You may also be familiar with it as an ingredient in curry powder. Or you're still mystified, maybe even intimidated by it. Our side of the world has just discovered the wonders of this ancient Indian secret.
Do you wonder if turmeric is what you need for your long-term health? It promises longevity, pain relief and even happiness. If you're wondering if turmeric is worth the hype, read on to see what science says.
Spoiler alert: it is. Clinical trials agree. Turmeric has powerful healing properties.
What is Turmeric?
Curcuma longa, or turmeric plant, closely resembles ginger. Ground turmeric is a very common spice in Indian cuisine. It's called the Indian saffron because of its yellow color and prevalent use. In Ayurveda, this spice has been used as a treatment for centuries to promote overall health.
Turmeric and Curcumin
The compound Curcumin is responsible for the bright color of turmeric. It's the active ingredient in turmeric and is where the magic comes from. It's studied in clinical trials for its great health benefits.
The roots of the turmeric plant and pure turmeric powder have the highest concentration of curcumin (1).
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Adding turmeric to your health and wellness routine could be a game-changer. A lot of research has confirmed the efficacy and safety of curcumin. Here's what research says turmeric can do:
1. Reduce Inflammation
If you're experiencing body aches, fatigue or fever, inflammation may be the cause.
Inflammation is your body's necessary and beneficial response to invaders, but it's a health risk when chronic. Chronic inflammation is often an underlying cause of heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory agent (2). In clinical trials, it has been shown to decrease inflammation.
Turmeric extract has anti-inflammatory properties that can help you lower the chance of developing chronic diseases.
If you seem to go through hell every time before your period, turmeric may help.
A double-blind placebo-controlled trial shows that women who took a turmeric and curcumin dietary supplement had less severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome(3).
Curcumin may be the secret to making your life easier. It is anti-inflammatory that also regulates mood.
3. Provide Pain Relief, Especially for Arthritis
This is another amazing effect of curcumin. If you struggle with joint pain or rheumatoid arthritis, turmeric may help.
In one study (4), turmeric was found to be more effective in easing pain than anti-inflammatory drugs. In 45 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, it was reported to be more effective than diclofenac sodium.
More research is needed to prove this benefit, but curcumin shows promise.
4.Keeps You Young
Wonder what makes you age? A big contributor is oxidative stress. Greying hair, memory loss, declining eyesight, fatigue... all the classic symptoms of aging are linked to oxidative stress. This chemical imbalance can be reversed by antioxidants.
Turmeric has antioxidant properties. Chemicals called curcuminoids in turmeric, especially curcumin, may have great potential to slow down aging (5).
Turmeric also helps prevent many age-related diseases. This includes diabetes and heart disease. Curcumin may keep the heart in good shape, and keep blood sugar in check.
5.Makes You Sharper
The impacts of turmeric may even extend to the brain.
In animal research, turmeric extract shows significant cognition-boosting effects (6). Curcumin can protect the brain against Alzheimer's Disease. More research is needed to confirm and clarify how this happens in humans.
It appears that curcumin increases the number of molecules in the brain that keep it sharp and help it change to learn new information. This keeps the brain young, lowering the risk of Alzheimer's Disease.
Can a spice prevent cancer? Research shows that it may.
Cancer is caused by cells growing rapidly in abnormal numbers. Curcumin has been shown to regulate this uncontrolled cell behavior. It can slow down the spread of cancerous cells (7).
Many scientific studies have concluded that curcumin may have anti-cancer properties. It is also being explored as a complement to cancer treatment.
7.Make You Happier
If you're prone to depression, turmeric can help your brain.
In a randomized controlled trial (8) 60 patients were divided into three groups. One group took Prozac, the second took curcumin, and the third took both Prozac and curcumin.
The group that took both Prozac and curcumin showed the best results. Surprisingly, turmeric was as effective as Prozac.
Whether you have clinical depression or need to fight the occasional blues, taking turmeric can help.
8.Help With Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you have IBS, you know how tricky it is to treat. Turmeric has a two-pronged effect on IBS:
Turmeric boosts mood. Lowering anxiety eases IBS symptoms.
The use of turmeric is also beneficial for the gut. A pilot study in 2015 (9) found that curcumin helped patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Those who took curcumin supplements reported less abdominal discomfort. They also said the quality of their life was better.
How to Use Turmeric
Are you ready to give this wonderful spice a try? Turmeric is not just another supplement. With its color and strong taste, it's striking and delicious.
If you're not ready to plunge into supplements, your safest bet is to add some curcumin magic to your food. The great thing about turmeric is that it doesn't have to be just another boring pill. Here is a recipe for a wonderful golden latte, or turmeric milk. Be careful though! Turmeric can stain your skin and countertops.
Turmeric Milk Recipe
In a cup of hot milk or milk alternative, just add 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder, 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper, and any sweetener of your choice. That's all you need to gain the effect of turmeric!
If you want an even deeper flavor profile, feel free to add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder and a pinch of cinnamon.
This warm, earthy, slightly peppery spice makes a comforting and delicious drink. Golden milk is an ancient secret for longevity and good health, so don't miss out.
Turmeric for Skin
Face masks with turmeric are also becoming popular for good reason. The warm spice, used sparingly, has antimicrobial properties. It's effective for acne and can stimulate your skin and make your face glow.
A pinch of turmeric in honey forms a potent anti-microbial and hydrating mask.
The Problem With Turmeric
Turmeric is well-loved and delicious, but see how research touts the benefits of curcumin? Turmeric benefits that make it special may be all because of curcumin. Its powder is the most concentrated natural source of curcumin.
It's still in a low concentration at 2-8%. In clinical studies, high concentrations of curcumin are used to test its effectiveness.
Curcumin has another problem. It is a magical ingredient, but it has low bio-availability. This means that curcumin is not readily available for the body to use. Much of the curcumin that enters your body exits it as it is. All the health effects literally go down the drain.
Curcumin and Piperine
Luckily, we are figuring out ways to make sure the body uses curcumin to its full potential.
One key is the compound piperine, found in black pepper. It has been shown to increase the absorption of curcumin. This is why many turmeric products on the market are capsules containing both of these key ingredients.
Choose the Best Supplement
You need a high-performing curcumin supplement that gets absorbed well in the body. Try to look for a product that has both piperine as well as curcumin in them.
The best supplement should be created with technology that enables it to absorb well in the body.
Curcumin is a powerful game-changer for health. It can help you live better and longer. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects of turmeric are too good to miss.
When adding a new supplement to your diet it is always best to ask your doctor to provide medical advice that's best for your needs.