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Turmeric: overview, benefits, dosage & side-effects

Turmeric: overview, benefits, dosage & side-effects

What is turmeric and what are the benefits?

Turmeric is an orangey, yellow-coloured spice that comes from the turmeric plant. It has been used for thousands of years as both a cooking ingredient and a medicinal herb.1 It’s the curcuminoids, also known as curcumins, that give turmeric its striking colour – so much so, they’re often used to colour food and cosmetics.2

Extracted from the root of the turmeric plant, it’s part of the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes ginger.3 Interestingly, the turmeric plant is related to ginger and originates from India and other parts of Asia and Central America.2 Using turmeric dates all the way back to 4,000 years ago in India.4

Historically, it’s mainly been used in Ayurvedic medicine, primarily in South Asia, for many conditions, including breathing problems, rheumatism, serious discomfort and fatigue.

You can buy turmeric powder, tea, essential oil and scrubs. You can also take turmeric tablets, too.

Like most spices, turmeric goes by more than one name – turmeric root and Indian saffron. However, it’s not to be confused with the Javanese turmeric root either which, despite the reference to turmeric, is something else entirely.

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 – but more on that later.5

Between 2-6% of turmeric consists of curcuminoids, active plant compounds, most of which is curcumin.6

Turmeric and black pepper

Heard about taking turmeric and black pepper together? There’s a good reason. Scientists have discovered that black pepper helps your body absorb curcumin, so you may sometimes find turmeric and black pepper together.7

6 benefits of turmeric

What is turmeric good for?

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic approach to medicine that originated in India, has long praised the health and wellbeing benefits of turmeric, and now Western studies are discovering the following:

  1. It may help manage bodily discomfort

There are many turmeric benefits for men and women, but our first pick is its ability to help with the reduction of bodily discomfort. A 2013 study in the journal Biofactors found that curcumin may be responsible for helping with discomfort and swelling. Researchers say it has this effect by blocking enzymes and other proteins that create an inflammatory response in the body.8

  1. It may support your joints

Another benefit of turmeric is that it may help to protect your joints from wear and tear thanks to curcumin contents. This includes helping to ease symptoms of arthritis like joint movement and stiffness, according to a 2016 study in Journal of Medicinal Food.9

The curcumins in turmeric have soothing properties, so much so, that they are said to help improve the symptoms of arthritis.

According to research carried out on people with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin may be even more effective than some anti-inflammatory drugs.10

What’s more, many other studies have looked at the effects of curcumin on arthritis and noted improvements in various symptoms.11

  1. It may ease digestion problems

Curcumin may also be able to help support gut health, including managing excess gas, abdominal discomfort, and bloating.12 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.13

  1. It may support skin health

As well as having soothing properties, turmeric is also said to have antioxidant properties, making it effective for skin types and conditions, such as blemish prone skin and psoriasis.14

The soothing properties can help calm sensitive skin.

You can also use it, or different variations of it, like face cleansers, skin masks and night creams within your skincare regimes. This can regulate oil production, cleanse the skin, and even, manage facial hair.15

Turmeric can also be used for pimples, thanks to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties that help with breakouts and can help manage redness and scarring.15

For glowing skin, why not give our lemon and turmeric face mask a go? You only need three ingredients to create it, it takes just six steps to make and, the good news is, two of them are available here online and in-store.

  1. It may help with acid reflux

You may not have put the two together until now, but turmeric may also help with acid reflux and gastrointestinal problems, too.

Research into acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease has shown these conditions may be caused by inflammation and oxidative stress and that they can be managed with antioxidants and supplements with soothing properties.16

Turmeric, and its extract curcumin, are both said to possess these properties. Because of this, turmeric may help with acid reflux.

Meanwhile, a separate study revealed that the soothing effects of curcumin manage the risk of oesophageal issues.16

  1. It may help with symptoms of depression

It’s believed that curcumin might be able to help ease depression and enable antidepressants to work more effectively.

Some studies says there’s a connection between depression and chronic inflammation, suggesting that chronic inflammation and depression can aggravate one another.17

It’s thought that antioxidants, such as curcumin, can help with the symptoms of depression by managing the chronic inflammation that’s been highlighted by wider research.18