7 Health Benefits of Turmeric: It's Not Just an Anti-Inflammatory!

by Katie Stone, ND August 04, 2020 6 min read

7 Health Benefits of Turmeric: It's Not Just an Anti-Inflammatory!

 

Turmeric is one of the world’s most well-known herbs, and it’s been used as both as a culinary and medicinal food for hundreds of years.

Ground turmeric root is distinctively bright yellow with an earthy taste and a mustard-like smell. It's often used in curries, soups and even as a coloring agent. But it’s turmeric’s incredible health benefits that have made it so famous.

Turmeric’s secret is its active ingredient, curcumin. Curcumin comprises about 1–6% of most turmeric and gives turmeric its yellow color.  It’s also what provides turmeric with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Numerous scientific studies have shown curcumin to have potent anti-inflammatory properties which are similar to pharmaceutical drugs such as hydrocortisone – but without the harmful side-effects.

Turmeric has been used to successfully treat a variety of inflammatory conditions (such as arthritis, metabolic syndrome, and joint pain), and can even help degenerative eye conditions. There is also evidence that turmeric can improve kidney health.

All of these therapeutic benefits appear to be due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Here's a breakdown of the 7 top health benefits of turmeric.

1. Turmeric's Antioxidant Properties

Turmeric can increase your body’s own levels of antioxidants, as demonstrated by multiple research studies on concentrated turmeric supplements. Curcumin has a powerful mitigating effect on oxidative stress in the body.

Because inflammation is one of the hallmarks of chronic disease, this finding has important implications for many people suffering from painful or inflammatory health conditions. It also suggests that turmeric may be an effective preventative for those at risk of developing certain diseases. (1)

The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric appear to work by scavenging different forms of free radicals, including both reactive oxygen and nitrogen. Curcumin also helps to modulate the activity of your body’s own detoxifying enzymes.

2. May Kill Fungal and Microbial Infections

Turmeric may be a helpful treatment for fungal infections such as Candida albicans.

A study conducted in Brazil found that Curcumin was able to completely inhibit the growth of Candida albicans, as well as a number of other fungal strains.

Curcumin was even able to prevent Candida from adhering to human cells more effectively than the commercial antifungal drug fluconazole (Diflucan). (2)

Another study found that researchers found that using ascorbic acid alongside Curcumin potentiated its antifungal effects by up to 10 times.  This suggests that taking vitamin C supplements with curcumin may help to inhibit fungal overgrowth more effectively.   

3. Relieves Pain Caused by Inflammatory Conditions

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties may help to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Your body makes inflammatory proteins called cytokines which are largely controlled by a molecule called NF-κB. This molecule is like an ‘on-off’ switch for cytokines.

The corticosteroids that are often prescribed to treat arthritis symptoms work by inhibiting NF-κB. However, new research shows that turmeric can have a similar effect. It inhibits NF-κB, which essentially means it ‘turns off’ a bunch of inflammatory molecules.

Similar research shows that curcumin may also target specific inflammatory cells and block some types of enzymes that cause inflammation.

One clinical trial involving 40 people with osteoarthritis of the knee investigated the effects of taking a curcuminoid supplement every day for six weeks. The participants reported significant reductions in their pain, and their physical function also improved greatly. Systemic oxidative stress improved as well. (3)

The researchers suggested this was due to the beneficial effects of curcuminoids providing valuable local anti-inflammatory effects. They believed that taking standardized turmeric extract for 8–12 weeks could be enough to reduce arthritis symptoms of pain and inflammation, and may even provide similar relief to ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium.

4. Alleviates Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for a variety of weight-related issues including insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hypertension, ‘bad’ cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and obesity.

Curcumin has been shown to help treat the issues associated with metabolic syndrome, including insulin sensitivity, fat accumulation, high blood pressure, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

It also appears that the curcuminoids in turmeric extract can help reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol while boosting levels of ‘good’ cholesterol.

Being overweight or obese is linked to chronic low-grade inflammation, which is why researchers wanted to test the effects of turmeric on sufferers. They gave a group of patients with metabolic syndrome 1g of turmeric (with piperine to aid absorption) for 8 weeks.

The patients experienced significant improvement, including reduced overall LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol. They also showed positive changes in serum lipids and glucose levels, as well as reduced inflammation.  

The authors concluded that short-term supplementation with a curcuminoid-piperine combination could improve the health of those with metabolic syndrome, mainly by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. They recommended turmeric as a natural, safe, and effective treatment (4) 

5. May Help To Relieve Depression and Degenerative Conditions

Turmeric may help to alleviate stress-related depression and improve the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis.

Studies involving animals subjected to chronic stress showed that stress caused several behavioral problems and physiological effects, including enlarged adrenal glands and higher corticosterone levels. When the animals were given turmeric, however, these changes were reversed. (5)

In addition, turmeric also appeared to improve protein levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which plays a key role in memory and cognitive function. BDNF is one of the main growth hormones components involved in the formation of new neurons.

Many common brain disorders have been linked to low levels of BDNF, including depression and Alzheimer's disease. However, by increasing levels of BDNF, curcumin may be helpful in delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decline in brain function.

A study with chronically-stressed rats showed that turmeric supplementation had positive effects on behavior. It’s now thought that humans could also benefit from turmeric’s modulating effects on the HPA axis and neurotrophin factors. It may even make you smarter!

6. Improves Cardiovascular Health

Curcumin may help reverse many factors involved in the progression of heart disease.  One of its main benefits is in improving the integrity of blood vessels, known as the endothelium.

Endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease as it plays a part in regulating blood pressure, blood clotting and various other factors.

A number of studies have now indicated that curcumin may be highly beneficial to endothelial function.

Some evidence suggests that curcumin supplements may provide similar benefits to the drug Atovastin, while other studies show it may be as effective as exercise.

Curcumin also appears to reduce both inflammation and oxidation, which are major drivers of heart disease and dysfunction.  

A study involving 121 people undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery investigated the effects of taking either 4g of curcumin (before and after surgery) or taking a placebo. After the surgery, the group taking curcumin was found to have a 65% lower risk of experiencing a heart attack than those who took the placebo. (6)

7. May Slow The Effects of Aging

Although there is no possible way to ‘stop’ the body aging, it may be possible to slow down its negative effects by taking turmeric.

Turmeric’s antioxidant properties may be an important means of reducing the lifelong accumulation of molecular damages caused by reactive oxygen species. These are produced by both the mitochondria of the cell as well as errors in DNA replication.

Many diseases are age-related, particularly Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, metabolic disorders and more. Most are linked to low-grade inflammation – again caused by oxidative stress and worsened by pro-inflammatory cytokines.

As a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, curcumin may be able to slow down aging.

It boosts the level of antioxidant enzymes in your body while also scavenging free radicals that cause oxidative stress. It also helps prevent these free radicals from causing lipid peroxidation – the oxidation of fats in the cell membrane, which leads to death of the cell.  

There is even some evidence that curcumin may help to ward off the effects of UV light, which can speed up the aging process in the skin.

A study conducted in India investigated the effects of topical curcumin formulations on mice that had been exposed to UV radiation for 5 seconds 5 times a week for 6 weeks.  The higher doses of curcumin were found to help control the formation of lesions in the mice, as well as restore their redox balance.

The researchers concluded that curcumin may be able to help control the aging effects of UV light on the skin (7).

Look for Turmeric Extract

Almost all of the research on turmeric has been conducted on turmeric extract.

The active, health-promoting compound in turmeric is curcumin, but regular turmeric only contains around 1-6% curcumin. Turmeric extract can be standardized up to 95% curcumin.

Also be aware that many turmeric supplements use a combination of the two. They are marketed as a turmeric extract, when in reality they contain mostly regular turmeric. Always read the label :)

Our Turmeric formula contains 1000mg of ethically-sourced Turmeric extract, standardized to 95% curcuminoids.

High quality turmeric extract has been shown to reduce minor pain and stiffness, improve inflammation, and support optimal joint health.

Here are a few key reasons why our Turmeric is so effective:

  • 1000mg of maximum-strength turmeric extract
  • Reduce inflammation and improve joint health
  • Ethically-sourced turmeric from our Rainforest Alliance Certified partner
  • Black pepper extract to increase absorption and bioavailability
  • 30 day supply. A regular dose is three easy-to-swallow capsules
  • Free of nuts, dairy, gluten, soy. Non-GMO and vegan.

You can read more about our Turmeric here. 

Katie Stone, ND
Katie Stone, ND



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