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20 Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin According to Science

Turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, have long been considered an effective herbal treatment for many ailments and diseases.

turmeric powder in wooden bowls

For thousands of years, its benefits have been celebrated, and more of us than ever before are taking an interest in this supplement, even tagging turmeric as a “superfood.”

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind the impressive selection of health benefits of turmeric and see whether it's something you should be using in your day-to-day routine.

Contains Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Although inflammation plays an important role in helping our bodies repair damage, long-term inflammation can give rise to an array of health issues, including heart disease, cancer, and degenerative conditions.

However, scientists have discovered that curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help protect the body against disease and offer treatment for existing conditions.

However, high quantities of turmeric or curcumin supplements are required to produce noticeable improvements.

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Relieves Arthritis

Arthritis affects almost 24% of all adults in the U.S. - that’s a staggering 58.5 million people, most of which are women.

Arthritis can restrict movement in the joints, muscle weakness, and pain, and leave sufferers with pain, tenderness, and stiffness that restricts mobility, and has a negative impact on their overall well-being.

Research has shown that we may be able to use turmeric and curcumin as effective treatments for symptoms of arthritis.

For example, one study found that curcumin was a more effective treatment than prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs. In other studies, participants have noted a significant improvement in their symptoms with curcumin treatment.

May Improve Brain Health

Turmeric and curcumin may also improve our brain health. Studies have shown that turmeric and curcumin can boost levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

Decreased levels of BDNF have been associated with a range of issues, including depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive decline.

May Prevent Cancer

Impressively, research has shown that turmeric and curcumin may have the potential to prevent and treat cancer. Cancer is caused by uncontrolled cell growth in the body, which can have devastating impacts on its sufferers.

Several studies have assessed the link between curcumin and cancer and found that this compound may kill cancerous cells, reduce metastasis, and reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumours.

Additional studies have found that curcumin may prevent the development of cancer altogether, especially cancers found in the human digestive system, such as colorectal cancer. However, more research is needed to confirm this.

Could Improve Skin Health

Turmeric and curcumin contain plenty of antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which may treat skin conditions including psoriasis, photoaging, eczema, and more.

For example, one study explored curcumin as a treatment for psoriasis and discovered that it might be capable of reducing oxidative stress found in psoriatic lesions. However, more research is needed to explore this.

May Promote Longevity

Although there’s no direct evidence to suggest that turmeric and curcumin can promote longevity, some believe that they could potentially be used as an anti-aging supplement.

Research has explored the link between curcumin and aging and suggests that its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may play a role in reducing some notable markers of the process.

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Could Lower The Risk Of Heart Disease

Unfortunately, heart disease is incredibly complex, and many factors play a role in its development.

However, studies have shown positive findings on the effect of turmeric for heart health. Curcumin was found to improve the function of our endothelium, which is responsible for controlling blood pressure, clotting, and other functions.

As mentioned above, these turmeric supplements can also reduce inflammation and oxidation, which play a role in the development of heart disease.

Curcumin Could Treat Alzheimer's

Although Alzheimer's is one of the most common forms of dementia, there’s currently no cure.

However, curcumin has been shown to cross the brain-blood barrier, which could provide a treatment for Alzheimer's. Curcumin may also reduce the presence of amyloid plaques, which is a key feature of Alzheimer's disease.

In addition, some studies show the positive effects of turmeric for brain inflammation. Curcumin has been found to act on multiple pathways in the brain, which can help reduce inflammation, protect against cell death, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

May Improve Memory And Attention

yellow turmeric powder in a ceramic bowl with a gold spoon

We’ve already seen that curcumin and turmeric can improve our brain health, and they may also help support better memory and attention levels, too.

This is due to its ability to increase BDNF levels, as discussed earlier. However, additional research is needed to explore this.

Improved Mood

Curcumin may also help improve symptoms of depression and improve mood. One trial of sixty participants showed promising results after 6 weeks of treatment.

The participant group that took both Prozac and curcumin saw more effects than the groups that used either one of the other. The study concluded that curcumin might be just as effective as anti-depressants.

May Fight Off Free Radicals

Have you ever wondered why people praise antioxidants so much? It’s because they can protect our bodies from free radicals.

Free radicals are caused by oxidative damage, which is one of the leading causes of many diseases and DNA changes in the body, including cancer.

Research has found that curcumin has a unique chemical structure that may neutralize these free radicals, which may reduce our risk of developing a range of health conditions. However, more research on humans is needed to confirm the efficacy of this treatment.

May Prevent And Treat Diabetes

Curcumin may even play a role in the treatment and prevention of diabetes. The causes of diabetes are varied. However, factors such as weight, exercise levels, blood pressure, genetics, and even race and ethnicity can all play a role.

Diabetes can be debilitating for its sufferers, but research may shine new hope on its treatment and prevention.

Both turmeric and curcumin have been shown to improve the body's blood sugar metabolism, which could potentially reduce the effects of diabetes on the body. Furthermore, there are findings on the benefits of turmeric for diabetic neuropathy, which suggest that curcumin may be able to treat and minimize neuropathic pain.

Curcumin may also lower the inflammatory markers in the body, such as TNF (tumour necrosis factor), which is a key contributing factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes.

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May Help Treat HIV

Studies have indicated that curcumin may have the ability to inhibit the HIV-1 integrase enzyme, which is necessary for viral replication and may be able to suppress the expression of HIV genes stimulated by UV light.

These discoveries suggest that curcumin and similar compounds may have the potential to be used in the creation of new medications for HIV.

May Protect From Gastric Ulcer

Curcumin, with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, is thought to help reduce inflammation and protect the stomach lining from damage that can lead to ulcers.

Studies have found that curcumin helps reduce the growth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which is linked to an increased risk of gastric ulcers.

In addition, curcumin has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, increase levels of gastric mucus, and inhibit acid secretion.

These effects may help protect against ulcer formation and promote the healing of existing ulcers.

While more research is needed to fully understand the extent of turmeric benefits on ulcer-related conditions, it appears that it could be a safe and effective natural remedy for various digestive issues.

May Help Treat Depression

yellow turmeric powder in a bowl and a spoon full of turmeric

As mentioned, turmeric may be able to help with treating depression. Other than boosting the BDNF, research suggests that turmeric helps regulate mood and reduce symptoms of depression by modulating serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain.

In addition, the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin could reduce stress and anxiety associated with depression.

Another research suggests that curcumin can modulate the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA) activity which is implicated in stress responses.

Thus by influencing these physiological pathways it may be possible that turmeric may help with depression. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings. Until then, it is important to speak to a doctor before taking turmeric or any other supplement as a treatment for depression.

May Help With Asthma

Turmeric has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, but there is growing evidence that it may be beneficial in treating asthma as well.

Studies have shown that turmeric can reduce inflammation in the airways and reduce the production of mucus. It has also been shown to improve the body's ability to respond to allergens, helping reduce symptoms of asthma.

Additionally, turmeric contains compounds called curcuminoids that are thought to help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

These compounds can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress associated with asthma.

Taken together, these effects can lead to reduced asthma symptoms and improved quality of life for those suffering from this condition.

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Could Help With Urinary Tract Infections

Turmeric has been found to be an effective natural remedy for urinary tract infections (UTIs).

It has been shown to lower the number of white blood cells and bacteria in the urine, as well as decrease the levels of substances in the body that cause inflammation.

These benefits can help to alleviate the symptoms of a UTI and prevent further complications.

In addition, curcumin can aid in reducing the inflammation associated with UTI, which can ultimately reduce discomfort and improve healing.

May Be Able To Improve Liver Health

Turmeric has been found to have a positive effect on the liver.

It has been researched to see if it could be helpful for people with a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A group of randomized controlled trials were reviewed to see if taking turmeric or curcumin can lower the levels of certain substances in the blood that are linked to NAFLD. The results showed a trend toward a significant reduction of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) blood concentrations and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), which are both tests to check for liver damage.

Another study has shown that extracts of turmeric can inhibit the production of aflatoxin, a liver toxin, by up to 90% when it is present at certain levels. It has also been found to reverse the liver damage caused by aflatoxin B1 in ducklings.

Overall, turmeric may be beneficial for those looking to protect their liver from toxins and damage but more research is needed to be certain.

Could Support Oral Health

Turmeric has many potential benefits for oral health due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties.

Studies have shown that turmeric can help reduce plaque, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. It can also reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in the mouth, which can help reduce the risk of developing cavities and oral cancer.

Turmeric also has antibiotic, analgesic and sedative properties, which can make it an ideal material for use in endodontic treatments such as pulpotomies. Its use as a pulpotomy material has been found to be effective in promoting the healing of dental pulp and preventing infection.

Additionally, it is a biocompatible material with minimal side effects, making it a viable option for treating dental diseases.

Helps Boost The Immune System

Finally, turmeric has been shown to have powerful immune-modulating properties, which can help to improve overall health and well-being.

Research shows that curcumin can affect different types of immune cells in the body, such as T lymphocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, B lymphocytes, and natural killer cells. This can help protect against diseases that are caused by problems with the immune system.

In addition, curcumin can help to reduce chronic inflammation and enhance the body’s natural defences, making turmeric one of the best immune-boosting foods out there.

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The Bottom Line

If you’ve been exploring the world of alternative medicine, the power of turmeric will be no surprise to you.

However, the extent of its benefits is truly astounding. Although more research is needed to confirm all the benefits and how long it takes to work, the research and studies into the power of turmeric and curcumin are promising.

Whether you want to improve your cognitive function, protect yourself against disease or reduce the symptoms of a chronic illness, turmeric may be worth keeping on your shelf.

If you're ready to try this super spice for your health, read here to learn about the best ways to take turmeric and how much you need daily.


Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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