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Like many spices, turmeric (Curcuma longa) has a long history
of use in traditional medicine. This flavor-filled spice
is primarily cultivated from the rhizomes, or roots, of
a flowering plant in India and other parts of Southeast
Asia, and aside from giving curry its vibrant yellow color,
turmeric is also known for having potent anti-inflammatory
and antioxidant properties, according to a past review.
The primary active component of turmeric — and the one that
gives the spice its characteristic yellow color — is curcumin.
Unfortunately, turmeric (and curcumin on its own) doesn’t
absorb well into the bloodstream, and having it in curry once a
month is unlikely to give you the desired anti-inflammatory and
antioxidant benefits, says Dana Angelo White, RD, owner of Dana
White Nutrition. To reach the amounts of turmeric and curcumin shown
to offer benefits in research studies, you’ll have to turn
Still, you may be able to reap benefits by adding black pepper
anytime you use turmeric, and/or taking a turmeric supplement that
incorporates black pepper. “There is a compound in black pepper
called piperine that actually helps to make turmeric more bioavailable,”
White explains. Bioavailability refers to the amount of a substance
that’s absorbed or able to be used by the body. For instance,
a past study found that consuming 20 milligrams (mg) of piperine
along with 2 grams (g) of curcumin increased bioavailability by
1. Curcumin Is an Anti-Inflammatory
One of turmeric’s main claims to fame is that it’s commonly
used to fight inflammation, and the bulk of turmeric’s inflammation-fighting
powers can be credited to curcumin.
2. Curcumin May Protect Against Heart Disease
A past study shows that curcumin may improve endothelial function,
or the health of the thin membrane that covers the inside of the
heart and blood vessels. This membrane plays a key role in regulating
3. Curcumin May Prevent (and Possibly Help Treat) Cancer
As inflammation is linked to tumor growth, anti-inflammatory compounds
such as curcumin may play a role in treating and preventing a variety
of cancer types, including colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, breast,
and gastric cancers.
4. Curcumin May Help Ease Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin may
be a safe and effective long-term treatment option for people with
osteoarthritis (OA). In a past study, people with osteoarthritis
who took 1,000 mg/day of Meriva experienced significant improvements
in stiffness and physical function after eight months, whereas the
control group saw no improvements.
5. Curcumin May Help Treat or Prevent Diabetes
According to a past review of studies, curcumin may help treat and
prevent diabetes, as well as associated disorders like diabetic
nephropathy (also called diabetic kidney disease), which affects
people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. (16,17) One drawback:
Many of the studies have been done only in animals, not humans.
6. Turmeric May Help Delay or Reverse Alzheimer’s
Turmeric may even protect your brain against common degenerative
diseases like Alzheimer’s. How? By increasing levels of brain-derived
neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein found in the brain and spinal
cord that plays a key role in keeping nerve cells (neurons) healthy,
as well as regulating communication between nerve cells, which is
critical for learning and memory.
7. Turmeric May Play a Role in Treating Depression
Like Alzheimer’s, depression is also associated with lower
levels of BDNF. Thanks to turmeric’s ability to boost levels
of BDNF, the spice shows promise as an effective antidepressant.
In fact, one study found that injecting rats with 50, 100, or 200
mg/kg of curcumin for 10 days led to a dose-dependent increase in
BDNF, with the higher dose of 200 mg/kg showing greater antidepressant
8. Curcumin May Play a Role in Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Curcumin shows promise as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA),
a chronic inflammatory disorder that commonly affects the joints
but may spread to other areas, such as the eyes, lungs, skin, heart,
and blood vessels. RA causes a painful swelling of the joints that
can cause the bones to erode over time and ultimately lead to deformities
and physical disabilities.
9. Turmeric May Improve Skin Health
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant
properties, turmeric may be an effective treatment for a variety
of skin conditions, including acne, eczema (atopic dermatitis),
photoaging, and psoriasis.
10. Turmeric Protects Your Body From Free Radicals
Antioxidants help protect your body against damage caused by free
radicals, a class of highly reactive atoms that are generated in
our bodies, as well as in environmental pollutants like cigarette
smoke and industrial chemicals.
11. Turmeric May Work As an Anti-Aging Supplement
Currently, there’s no evidence that turmeric or curcumin directly
influence longevity, but thanks to their ability to fight inflammation,
protect your body against free radicals, and potentially delay brain
degeneration and other age-related diseases, turmeric and curcumin
may be effective anti-aging supplements, according to past research.
12. Curcumin May Prevent Eye Degeneration
Glaucoma, a group of eye conditions, is one of the leading causes
of blindness in people over age 60. And, unfortunately, once your
vision is gone, it can’t be restored.
But preliminary research published July 2018 in Scientific Reports
shows topical curcumin treatments may help protect the eyes against
degeneration. Researchers applied a proprietary curcumin eye drop
solution to rats two times per day for three weeks. By the end of
the study, the untreated rats experienced a 23 percent reduction
in retinal cells compared with the treatment group, suggesting that
loss was prevented by the curcumin treatment. The study findings
sound impressive, but more studies are needed to determine if curcumin
is effective in preventing eye degeneration in humans.
Information sourced from www.everydayhealth.com