For thousands of years, turmeric has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine. Revered for its potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial effects, “the golden spice” is used to treat everything from congestion and skin conditions, to sprains and wounds.

In the last few years, you’ve probably seen turmeric popping up everywhere in the nutrition world. That’s because growing scientific research is proving what Ayurvedic practitioners have always known: turmeric really does have powerful health and medicinal properties.[1]

The health benefits of turmeric

Before we go into the benefits, keep in mind that many of them are thanks to curcumin, a specific compound of turmeric. Curcumin is often extracted and used to make high-dose supplements, increasing the potency and potential benefits of the supplement.

  1. Fights inflammation.

Inflammation is an important part of your body’s immune and healing responses. However, when it becomes chronic (sustained over the long term), inflammation can cause serious health problems.

Chronic inflammation can cause your immune system to attack and damage its own tissues. This is linked to chronic pain and major conditions like:[2][3][4]

  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic disease
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Cancer

Countless studies have shown that curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, tackling inflammation at a cellular level.[5][6][7][8][9][10] In fact, some studies even found curcumin to be just as effective as steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs in relieving inflammation (minus the side effects – bonus!).[11][12] It’s proven particularly helpful for people suffering from arthritis, who often experience pain due to inflammation in the joints.[13][14][15]

  1. Fights oxidative damage

Free radicals are by-products of chemical reactions in your body. They’re highly unstable and will react to many other substances they encounter, including DNA, proteins and acids. This can cause what’s known as oxidative damage, leaving the substances unable to perform their essential roles.

In a healthy, well-nourished body, antioxidants neutralize the free radicals and prevent oxidative damage. However, if you’re not producing enough antioxidants or getting them from your diet, oxidative damage goes unchecked. This is linked to premature ageing and chronic illness.

Thankfully, curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can easily neutralise free radicals.[16][17] It may also power up the body’s own natural antioxidant supply for even more protection.[18][19][20]

  1. May delay ageing

Inflammation and oxidative stress are both linked to premature ageing and age-related disease. Given that curcumin has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers, it stands to reason that it could help in the fight against ageing. It won’t stop the clock, of course, but research suggests that it can help to slow down the ageing process and keep you in good health for longer.[21][22]

  1. May keep the brain healthy

Researchers are especially interested in the effect of curcumin on Alzheimer’s disease. As well as fighting inflammation and oxidative damage – two major risk factors for Alzheimer’s — curcumin also seems to clear the build-up of “plaques” that form in the brains of sufferers.[23][24] Research is ongoing, but as there’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, it’s definitely promising news.

Alzheimer’s is also linked to decreased levels of a certain hormone in the brain. Known as BDNF, this hormone is essential for the growth, survival and health of your neurons. Curcumin has been shown to increase BDNF levels, which can possibly help to delay or even reverse age-related neurological decline.[25][26][27]

  1. May help to fight depression

By boosting BDNF levels, it’s thought that curcumin can also help to fight depression.[28][29] It’s also known to boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters involved in regulating your mood.[30][31] In one study, curcumin was found to be just as effective as leading medication Prozac in treating depression.[32]

  1. Lowers heart disease risk

Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer and, unsurprisingly, it’s also linked to inflammation and oxidative stress. In addition to fighting these two common culprits, curcumin is thought to protect against heart disease by improving the health of your blood vessels.

When your blood vessels aren’t functioning as they should, it can lead to high blood pressure, blockages, clotting issues and other major heart disease risk factors. Curcumin was found to be as effective as exercise and a leading statin drug in supporting healthy blood vessel function.[33][34] In another study of people undergoing bypass surgery, it was shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack by an impressive 65%.[35]  

Can I just eat more turmeric?

So there are lots of reasons to consider upping your turmeric intake. But do you need to buy a supplement, or can you just simply eat more turmeric?

Well, there’s no doubt that adding turmeric to your diet is a great idea. The problem is that the benefits come from curcumin specifically, and curcumin only makes up about 3% of turmeric’s weight. That means you’d have to eat tons of turmeric every day to get the kind of curcumin dose that leads to measurable results.

If you’re just looking for a more nutritious diet, then you’ll benefit from adding turmeric to your dishes or having a turmeric latte every morning. However, if you want to see significant, noticeable benefits – you’re looking to relieve joint pain, for example – then a supplement could be a better idea.

Our Ashwagandha with Curcumin is made with high concentrations of extracted compounds of curcumin. You get a much, much higher dose of beneficial compounds at levels clinically proven to deliver results — without having to eat mountains of turmeric every day! Check it out in our online store now.

References

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[2] Coussens, L. M., & Werb, Z. (2002). Inflammation and cancer. Nature, 420(6917), 860–867. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01322

[3] Libby, P. (2002). Inflammation in atherosclerosis. Nature, 420(6917), 868–874. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01323

[4] Lumeng, C. N., & Saltiel, A. R. (2011). Inflammatory links between obesity and metabolic disease. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 121(6), 2111–2117. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI57132

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[6] Chainani-Wu, N. (2003). Safety and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Curcumin: A Component of Tumeric ( Curcuma longa ). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 9(1), 161–168. https://doi.org/10.1089/107555303321223035

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[13] Chandran, B., & Goel, A. (2012). A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. Phytotherapy Research, 26(11), 1719–1725. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.4639

[14] Deodhar, S. D., Sethi, R., & Srimal, R. C. (1980). Preliminary study on antirheumatic activity of curcumin (diferuloyl methane). Indian Journal of Medical Research, 71:632-4. PMID: 7390600.

[15] Belcaro, G., Cesarone, M. R., et al. (2010) Product-evaluation registry of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, for the complementary management of osteoarthritis. Panminerva Medica, 52(2 Suppl 1):55-62. PMID: 20657536.

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[17] Menon, V. P., & Sudheer, A. R. (n.d.). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. The Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Curcumin in Health and Disease (pp. 105–125). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5_3

[18] Agarwal, R., Goel, S. K., & Behari, J. R. (2010). Detoxification and antioxidant effects of curcumin in rats experimentally exposed to mercury. Journal of Applied Toxicology, n/a-n/a. https://doi.org/10.1002/jat.1517

[19] Biswas, S. K., McClure, D., et al. (2005). Curcumin Induces Glutathione Biosynthesis and Inhibits NF-κB Activation and Interleukin-8 Release in Alveolar Epithelial Cells: Mechanism of Free Radical Scavenging Activity. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 7(1–2), 32–41. https://doi.org/10.1089/ars.2005.7.32

[20] Bulmuş, F. G., Sakin, F., et al. (2013). Protective effects of curcumin on antioxidant status, body weight gain, and reproductive parameters in male rats exposed to subchronic 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-dioxin. Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry, 95(6), 1019–1029. https://doi.org/10.1080/02772248.2013.829061

[21] Sikora, E., Bielak-Zmijewska, A., et al. (2010). The Promise of Slow Down Ageing May Come from Curcumin. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 16(7), 884–892. https://doi.org/10.2174/138161210790883507

[22] Sikora, E., Scapagnini, G., & Barbagallo, M. (2010). Curcumin, inflammation, ageing and age-related diseases. Immunity & Ageing, 7(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1186/1742-4933-7-1

[23] Hamaguchi, T., Ono, K., & Yamada, M. (2010). REVIEW: Curcumin and Alzheimer’s Disease. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 16(5), 285–297. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-5949.2010.00147.x

[24] Zhang, L., Fiala, M., Cashman, J., et al. (2006). Curcuminoids enhance amyloid-β uptake by macrophages of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 10(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2006-10101

[25] Dong, S., Zeng, Q., et al. (2012). Curcumin Enhances Neurogenesis and Cognition in Aged Rats: Implications for Transcriptional Interactions Related to Growth and Synaptic Plasticity. PLoS ONE, 7(2), e31211. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031211

[26] Hurley, L. L., Akinfiresoye, L., et al. (2013). Antidepressant-like effects of curcumin in WKY rat model of depression is associated with an increase in hippocampal BDNF. Behavioural Brain Research, 239, 27–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2012.10.049

[27] Xu, Y., Ku, B., et al. (2006). Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB. Brain Research, 1122(1), 56–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2006.09.009

[28] Kulkarni, S. K., Dhir, A., & Akula, K. K. (2009). Potentials of Curcumin as an Antidepressant. The Scientific World JOURNAL, 9, 1233–1241. https://doi.org/10.1100/tsw.2009.137

[29] Shimizu, E., Hashimoto, K., et al. (2003). Alterations of serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in depressed patients with or without antidepressants. Biological Psychiatry, 54(1), 70–75. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3223(03)00181-1

[30] Kulkarni, S. K., Bhutani, M. K., & Bishnoi, M. (2008). Antidepressant activity of curcumin: involvement of serotonin and dopamine system. Psychopharmacology, 201(3), 435–442. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-008-1300-y

[31] Xu, Y., Ku, B-S., et al. (2005). The effects of curcumin on depressive-like behaviors in mice. European Journal of Pharmacology, 518(1), 40–46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2005.06.002

[32] Sanmukhani, J., Satodia, V., et al. (2014). Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytotherapy Research, 28(4), 579–585. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5025

[33] Ushurani, P., Mateen, A. A., et al. (2008). Effect of NCB-02, atorvastatin and placebo on endothelial function, oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, 8-week study. Drugs Research & Development, 9(4):243-50.https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165%2F00126839-200809040-00004

[34] Akazawa, N., Choi, Y., et al. (2012). Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women. Nutrition Research, 32(10):795-9.https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0271531712001844

[35] Wongcharoan, W., Jai-Aue, S., et al. (2012). Effects of curcuminoids on frequency of acute myocardial infarction after coronary artery bypass grafting. American Journal of Cardiology, 1;110(1):40-4. https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0002914912008466