Turmeric, the main spice in the Indian dish curry, is argued by many to be the most powerful herb on the planet at fighting and potentially reversing disease. The health benefits of turmeric are incredibly vast and very thoroughly researched.
Currently, there are over 12,500 peer-reviewed articles published proving turmeric benefits, especially one of its renowned healing compounds, curcumin. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric responsible for so many of its benefits. In fact, turmeric is even good for dogs thanks to this ingredient.
This puts turmeric on top of the list as one of the most frequently mentioned medicinal herbs in all of science. It has a long history of use, particularly in Ayurvedic medicine and other traditional forms of medicine. Here’s what you need to know about turmeric and curcumin benefits and more.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric comes from the Curcuma longa plant, which grows in India and other Southeast Asian countries. It is a member of the ginger family. The dried root of this plant is ground into the distinctive yellow powder, giving it the name golden spice.
Why is turmeric good for you? There are several chemical compounds found in this herb, known as curcuminoids. The active substance is curcumin. Curcumin is what makes turmeric a “functional food,” defined by the Mayo Clinic as “foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition.”
One tablespoon (about seven grams) of ground turmeric contains approximately:
4.4 grams carbohydrates
0.5 gram protein
0.7 gram fat
1.4 grams fiber
0.5 milligram manganese (26 percent DV)
2.8 milligrams iron (16 percent DV)
0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (6 percent DV)
170 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
1.7 milligrams vitamin C (3 percent DV)
13 milligrams magnesium (3 percent DV)
Practitioners in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda have been prescribing turmeric and its extracts as part of holistic protocols for thousands of years. Practitioners have used it in a number of different ways, for many diseases and ailments.
Here are some of the uses and health benefits of turmeric:
1.May Slow or Prevent Blood Clots
One combination lab and animal study conducted in 1986 even suggests curcumin may be a preferable treatment method for people “prone to vascular thrombosis and requiring antiarthritic therapy.” However, this result still needs to be replicated in human trials.
2. May Reduce Depression Symptoms
Although few studies have been conducted on humans, dozens of research trials have proven that the benefits of turmeric include being especially effective in reducing depression symptoms in laboratory animals. These results seem to be connected to the way curcumin impacts neurotransmitter function through the brain-derived neurotrophic factor.
The journal Phytotherapy Research published the results of a study in 2014. The study took 60 volunteers diagnosed with major depressive disorder and split the group to determine how patients treated with turmeric curcumin fared against fluoxetine and a combination of the two. Curcumin was equally effective as fluoxetine in managing depression by the six-week mark.
Since that breakthrough trial, at least two other studies have observed the impact of turmeric’s major compound, curcumin, in patients with depression. The first involved 56 individuals (male and female), and the second involved 108 male participants. Both used a placebo but did not compare curcumin to any antidepressant, and both studies found that curcumin effectively reduced depression symptoms more than placebo.
3. Fights Inflammation
Arguably, the most powerful aspect of curcumin is its ability to control inflammation. The journal Oncogene published the results of a study that evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that curcumin is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world.
Several animal trials have been completed investigating the relationship between curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease. In mice, it seems that curcumin “reverses existing amyloid pathology and associated neurotoxicity,” a key feature of the progression of this neurological disease related to chronic inflammation. This study shows turmeric curcumin may help with Alzheimer’s symptoms.
4. Boosts Skin Health
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties have proven effective in treating multiple skin conditions. Benefits for skin include increasing the “glow and lustre” of the skin, speeding up wound healing, calming the pores to decrease acne and acne scarring, and controlling psoriasis flares.
One uncontrolled pilot study involving 814 participants even suggests that turmeric paste could cure 97 percent of scabies cases within three to 15 days.
Try my Turmeric Face Mask for glowing skin. Just keep in mind that this herb can stain the skin, and it may cause an allergic reaction. Do a patch test by applying a dime-size amount to your forearm. Then, wait 24–48 hours to check for any reaction before applying turmeric to your face.
5. May Outperform Common Arthritis Drug
Because curcumin is known for its strong anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing characteristics, a study was conducted on 45 rheumatoid arthritis patients to compare the health benefits of curcumin in turmeric to the arthritis drug diclofenac sodium (an NSAID), which put people at risk of developing leaky gut and heart disease.
The study split these volunteers into three groups: curcumin treatment alone, diclofenac sodium alone and a combination of the two. The results of the trial were eye-opening: