What is turmeric and what does it do?
Turmeric is a yellow coloured spice that has been used for thousands of years as both a cooking ingredient and a medicinal herb.
- Extracted from the root of the turmeric plant, it’s part of the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes ginger.
- Turmeric is available as a powder, tea, essential oil and scrubs. There’s also turmeric capsules.
What is curcumin and what does it do?
The compound curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow colour, has been isolated by scientists as turmeric’s most important active ingredient.
Studies show curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and may support digestion, too.
Between 2-6% of turmeric consists of curcuminoids, active plant compounds, most of which is curcumin.
Turmeric and black pepper
Scientists have also discovered that black pepper helps your body absorb curcumin, so you may sometimes find turmeric and black pepper together.
It can reduce inflammation – a 2013 study in the journal Biofactors found that curcumin may be responsible for curbing inflammation and swelling. Researchers say it has this effect by blocking enzymes and other proteins that create an inflammatory response in the body.7
It may support your joints – curcumin’s effect on reducing inflammation means it can also help protect your joints from wear and tear. This includes easing symptoms of arthritis-like joint movement and stiffness, according to a 2016 study in Journal of Medicinal Food.8
It can ease digestion problems – curcumin can help support gut health, including relieving excess gas, abdominal pain, and bloating.9 A 2013 trial by the University of Nottingham found curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile, an essential substance needed to break down fat in foods.10