40 Awesome Health Benefits of Turmeric

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Turmeric is the bright yellow spice widely used in Indian cuisine. But in addition to the delicate flavor that it adds to dishes, this spice has proven and potent healing properties. It has a long history as a healing agent used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

Traditional uses include general wound healing, the treatment of liver disease, skin problems, joint pains and strained muscles, as well as bringing relief to respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.

The most studied and documented active component in turmeric is curcumin which has been found to promote health and protect against a vast number of conditions. Curcumin exhibits more than 150 therapeutic actions and it is well known for being anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal. Researchers have also found that curcumin has potent anti-cancer properties.

For therapeutic use choose a turmeric that has a minimum of 95 percent curcuminoids and for serious conditions like cancer and alzheimer’s disease you should use a curcumin extract which has a much higher concentration of curcumin than the regular turmeric spice. Turmeric root (which is the source of the powdered spice) only contains about 3% curcumin.

The absorption of curcumin is better enhanced when it’s mixed with already boiling water. Add one tablespoon of curcumin powder to one quart of boiling water and drink once it’s reached a comfortable temperature. And the addition of piperine (found in black pepper) enhances the absorption of turmeric and curcumin. According to a study, published in Planta Medica, taking turmeric with piperine improves its absorption. They added 20 mg of piperine to 2000 mg of Turmeric, and it increased the bioavailability of turmeric 154 percent

Curcumin supplements are also a convenient and powerful way to realize the health benefits of this spice.

Health Benefits Of Turmeric

Health Benefits Of Turmeric

1.  Works As Natural Antiseptic

Turmeric is an effective antimicrobial and can be applied skin disorders, cuts, scratches and rashes. It’s been used for centuries as a way to clean wounds and kill off microbes that would otherwise cause an infection. And as an anti-inflammatory, it can take the pain and swelling out of insect bites and stings.

2.  Relieves Pain


A double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Surgical Endoscopy found that turmeric supplementation in patients who had undergone gallbladder surgery, experienced significantly less postoperative pain and fatigue at intervals of 3 weeks than patients taking a placebo.

3.  Improves Diabetes And Offers Drug Alternative


A 2009 study published in the Journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications found that curcumin might be valuable in treating diabetes and improving glucose uptake. Curcumin may also be able to suppress glucose production in the liver in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, (a common form of cancer).  With respect to diabetes, researchers found curcumin to be 400 times more potent in activating AMPK (which improves insulin sensitivity and can help reverse Type 2 Diabetes) than the standard drug prescribed to control diabetes, Metformin.

Another study found that supplementing with curcumin can delay damage to the blood vessels of the eye – a common complication of diabetes which leads to blindness – because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

4.  Relieves Stiff Joints


In a clinical trial designed to determine the effectiveness of turmeric in the relief of joint pain, one study group received the standard treatment of diclofenac sodium, while the other group received turmeric. Patients were given symptom score sheets and asked to score their discomfort. Turmeric outperformed diclofenac sodium on all levels. The results of the trial were published in the November 2012 issue of Phytotherapy Research.

5.  Improves Memory

Improves Memory


Eating one single gram of turmeric each day has proven beneficial in people with prediabetes – a condition known to impair memory. A study conducted by researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia found that participants whose breakfast was supplemented with 1 gram of turmeric had an improved working memory over a 6 hour period compared to the participants who were given a placebo.

Also, over 90% of people that take turmeric at least once a day report remembering having taken turmeric 🙂

6.  Manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Curcumin has the ability to manage inflammatory bowel disease –  IBS, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative Colitis.

An analysis of the studies evaluating curcumin found that many patients were able to completely stop taking their prescribed corticosteroids because their condition had improved so dramatically since taking curcumin.

For many patients with IBD, while corticosteroids do reduce pain symptoms, the drugs damage the intestinal lining over time and make the condition worse.

Supplementing with curcumin did not have any damaging side effects and, because of its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin actually helped the gut to heal and restore the growth of good gut bacteria.

7.  Relieves Knee Pain


A study published in the Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging looked at the effect of turmeric on knee osteoarthritis pain and function. During the four week study, two groups received either turmeric extract or the daily upper limit dose of ibuprofen. The study found that discomfort for the turmeric group was reduced just as much as in the ibuprofen group while the turmeric group also experienced more relief from joint stiffness.

8.  Supports Healthy Cholesterol Levels


Studies reveal that turmeric has a range of beneficial therapeutic effects on damaging LDL cholesterol. Turmeric seems to be able to prevent cholesterol production in the liver, block cholesterol absorption in the gut, and reduce cholesterol oxidation in the lining of the arteries. Research published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, found that healthy volunteers who consumed 500 mg of curcumin per day for seven days had a 33% reduction in blood levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, and a total reduction in cholesterol of 11.63% while their good HDL cholesterol increased by 29%!

9.  Prevents Stomach Ulcers


Turmeric is well known for its beneficial effects on digestion and researchers have discovered that turmeric can inhibit stomach ulcer formation.

An animal study looked into turmeric’s protective effects on the stomach lining when an acidic preparation – ethanol (used to induce stomach ulcers) was administered. A turmeric essential oil preparation was given before the ethanol and the results showed that turmeric inhibited stomach ulcer formation by 85%. Associated lesions, hemorrhaging and tissue necrosis were also significantly reduced.

10. Eases Arthritis


Turmeric has been shown to help ease the pain associated with arthritis thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.

While there is no cure for arthritis, regular doses of turmeric can help reduce the symptoms associated with it, and is best employed as part of an overall arthritis pain management strategy

To use turmeric for arthritis you’ll want to ingest it, as it doesn’t work as a topical treatment, but from the inside it helps soothe inflammation and bring the body back to its more natural state.

11. Relieves A Chronic Cough


Turmerics anti-inflammatory properties relieve chronic coughs by reducing chest congestion and by eliminating phlegm.

Traditional medicine recommends gradually sucking 1 gram of roasted turmeric powder morning and after dinner. This should be further supplemented with turmeric added to boiling milk, which is allowed to cool to comfortable temperature before drinking. Adding the powder to the boiling milk increases turmerics bioavailability, the same result can not be obtained by adding it to cold milk and then heating.

12.  Can Fight Viruses

Can Fight Viruses


Researchers have discovered that curcumin could be a weapon in the battle against super-viruses.

Researchers from Virginia’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, found curcumin stopped the deadly Rift Valley Fever virus from multiplying in infected cells. Lead researcher Aarthi Narayanan said curcumin “may interfere with how the virus manipulates the human cell to stop the cell from responding to the infection.”

13.  Calms Eczema And Itchiness


Turmeric has been shown to calm and reduce the skin irritation, rashes, itching, swelling, inflammation and redness experienced with most types of eczema.

Turmeric has the ability to restore skin hydration in people affected with atopic eczema and prevent the drying and scaling of the skin.

14.  Detoxes the Liver


Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries as a liver cleansing agent. More recently animal studies have shown curcumin’s abilty to regenerate damaged liver cells and help the liver to repair itself, which goes some way to confirm turmerics potent and long known benefits for liver health.

15.  Treats Depression


Researchers at the Department of Pharmacology of Government Medical College in Bhavnagar, India compared the effects of turmeric and Prozac in 60 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD). The results of the randomized trial indicated that

“This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders.”

16.  Protects Against Sleep Deprivation


Scientists have discovered that curcumin can offer protection from the effects of stress associated with sleep deprivation. In an animal study 72 hour, sleep-deprived mice were given a treatment with curcumin extract for five days and the results showed that curcumin significantly prevented impairment in locomotor activity, anxiety-like effects and oxidative damage.

17.  Boosts Weight Loss


Research published in Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry has revealed that curcumin, found in turmeric, alters the composition of fat cells in the bodies of overweight and obese people. Curcumin turns the energy-storing white fat cells into energy burning brown fat cells. Brown fat cells have the ability to burn off extra energy and release it as heat, making brown fat cells a good type of fat to have more of.

18.  Has Antibacterial Properties


Turmeric acts an antibacterial agent and can be taken internally to cure infections or applied topically to heal infections on the skin. Make a paste with turmeric and a little water or raw honey and apply it to the affected area.

19.  Helps Wounds To Heal


According to a study published in the Sept 2014 issue of Life Sciences curcumin has beneficial properties that speed up the wound healing process. Curcumin’s modes of action include the reduction of redness, swelling and oxidation. Another study on rats has demonstrated the benefit of topical turmeric application for wounds. Turmeric increased collagen synthesis rates, increased tissue strength and improved wound contraction.

20.  Equal To Exercise In Improving Cardiovascular Health


In a study, researchers assigned 32 women to take either curcumin, take moderate aerobic exercise, or undergo no intervention at all (control group). The researchers measured a key indicator of overall cardiovascular health, both at the beginning and end of the study. They found that while there was no improvement at all in the control group, there was an improvement in cardiovascular health in both the exercise and curcumin groups. Moreover the improvement in the two experimental groups was identical.

21.  Prevents HPV


Researchers in New Delhi found that curcumin prevented infection and inhibited the growth of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which has the potential benefit of preventing cervical cancer.

22.  Helps Psoriasis


In a clinical trial, conducted by the University of California, curcumin was tested against calcipotriol, which goes by the brand name Dovonex. Patients in this study used either 1% curcumin alcoholic gel, or the Dovonex. The patients who used curcumin had much better results than the Dovonex users: five had more than a 90% improvement after 2–6 weeks of treatment, and the remaining five patients showed a 50–85% improvement after 3–8 weeks.

Oral consumption of turmeric has also been proven to control the psoriasis-causing T-lymphocyte autoimmune proliferation.

23.  Beneficial For Treating Cancer


Curcumin appears to be helpful with every type of cancer and has more evidence-based literature supporting its anticancer properties than any other nutrient. Once curcumin enters a cell, it affects more than 100 different molecular pathways and is able to increase the activity of some molecules and decrease or inhibit the activity of others.

Research has also shown that curcumin works synergistically with certain chemotherapy drugs making them more effective while helping to protect the body from the harmful effects of those same drugs.

Typical anticancer doses are up to three grams of curcumin extract, three to four times daily.

24.  Lowers The Risk Of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease


Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier, which led researchers to investigate its effectiveness as neuroprotective agent for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Research has shown that curcumin helps to reduce the accumulation of destructive beta-amyloids in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients and break down the amyloid plaques associated with the disease.

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effect is also helpful because Alzheimer sufferers have high levels of inflammation in their brains. More recent research has pointed to another pathway for turmeric to assist in Alzheimer’s treatment.  A compound called aromatic turmerone, aids the growth of endogenous neural stem cells and these cells have been found to play a crucial role in brain repair and regeneration.

25.  Lowers Blood Pressure


Curcumin acts as a natural blood thinner, so it can replace or work alongside any blood thinners prescribed for this condition. You must consult with your doctor before making any changes to your medication. The anti-inflammatory properties in curcumin also contribute to reduced blood pressure. To get beneficial effects and lower high blood pressure you will need to take curcumin in supplement form, you won’t be able to obtain enough of the curcumin from turmeric powder to make any difference.

26. Soothes An Upset Stomach


As an anti-inflammatory turmeric helps to keep stomach acid from irritating the lining of your stomach, curcumin will also soothe heartburn as well as help with general stomach upsets and is known to ease nausea.

27.  Helps Wrinkles


Use Kasturi turmeric (doesn’t stain skin) to make a paste with buttermilk or natural yogurt and apply to areas where wrinkles are already established or just beginning to appear.

28.  Improves The Appearance Of Stretch Marks


Turmeric helps to improve the appearance of stretch marks. Apply a mixture of Turmeric combined with lemon or cucumber juice. Smooth onto the affected areas and leave for 15 minutes before washing off. If you’re worried about staining an area of skin that will be on display, use Kasturi turmeric.

29. Relieves Trapped Gas


Turmeric is a known carminative. A carminative is a herb or preparation which prevents the accumulation of gas or helps it to pass more easily. Meaning turmeric can bring quick relief to a painful episode of trapped gas.

30.  Improves Facial Hair


Women in India have used turmeric as a remedy for unwanted facial hair for centuries. Regular application of turmeric mixed with a carrier oil will reduce the growth rate of facial hair and cause the hair to become finer and less coarse, which greatly improves this embarrassing problem.

31.  Helps Cure Tension Headaches

Helps Cure Tension Headaches


Turmeric can be used as an alternative painkilling remedy for headaches.

Turmeric supplements are widely used to bring fast relief to headaches thanks to the anti-inflammatory action of curcumin.

32.  Reduce Acnes And Pimples


Because of its antibacterial properties turmeric is a powerful remedy for spots and acne. Its anti-inflammatory action will also calm red skin and provide a noticeable improvement very quickly.

33.  Controls Dandruff


A hair mask containing antifungal turmeric will help to fight the fungus responsible for dandruff, aid in controlling excess sebum production and soothe inflamed itchy skin. You can make a paste with coconut oil or natural yogurt. Massage the paste into your scalp and leave for 30 minutes then shampoo your hair with a natural shampoo and finish with an apple cider vinegar rinse.

34.  Natural Hair Dye


Turmeric has a long history of use as a textile dye, but it’s also an effective and completely safe natural hair dye.

The final shade that you achieve will depend on the amount of turmeric that you use and your hair condition. Dry hair will absorb more of the pigment, oily hair will take in less. You can change light blond to a darker, golden blond, give an extra layer of color to light brown hair and light blond hair can even be turned bright yellow with repeated application.

35. Whitens Teeth


This sounds counterintuitive since turmeric stains everything else, but it does (according to many people online) whiten teeth. You need to brush with turmeric consistently and you’ll start to see results in around one week. Wet your toothbrush and then dip it into a little turmeric powder. Brush your teeth then allow the turmeric to sit on your teeth for 5 minutes so it can get to work. Then rinse your mouth and follow up with your regular toothpaste.

Apparently this works because the curcuminoids in turmeric are type II photosensitizers. They produce singlet oxygen when light shines on them, and make perhydroxyl radicals which bleach the teeth in the same way whitening strips do.

According to Mother Nature Network, former Miss USA Susie Castillo swears by her recipe for homemade toothpaste, which uses turmeric powder.

36.  Lighten Age Spots


Turmeric is effective in inhibiting the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin causes the darker skin pigmentation in age spots.

37.  Improve Skin’s Elasticity


Turmeric is a valued beauty and anti-aging treatment in India and one of its many benefits is ability to stimulate the production of new skin cells and improve the skin’s elasticity.

38.  Prevents Hair Loss


Some studies have found out that the growth of TGF Beta 1 (Transforming Growth Factor beta 1) contributes to hair loss. Curcumin has ability to block the effect of TGF Beta 1 and as a result, can be effective in preventing some types of hair loss.

39.  Stops Bad Breath


The antibacterial properties in turmeric kill the microbes in your mouth that cause bad breath.

40.  Turmeric Can Make You Happier


I wanted to finish on a positive note after going though all of those depressing conditions. Curcumin plays a powerful role in lifting your mood and keeping that good mood going. It’s been shown to enhance brain chemicals like noradrenalin and serotonin, and increase the production of dopamine. A happier mood has a positive effect on your whole body, and since your mood influences – for good or ill – your overall health, your capacity to learn, your pain tolerance levels and your lifespan, go and grab yourself some yellow happy powder.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.