Perhaps best-known for powering curries with its distinct yellow colour and warm flavours, turmeric is a flowering plant that is part of the ginger family. Used for centuries in South Asian medicine systems like Ayurveda, turmeric’s rediscovered health benefits are fuelling a surge in its popularity.
Over the past ten years, research has begun to verify that traditional uses of turmeric have medicinal benefits. These benefits owe to a compound called curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric.
However, the amounts of turmeric powder you would use in food are likely insufficient to get these benefits. For this reason, many people opt for turmeric supplements which high concentration of potent turmeric.
Here are five benefits of turmeric supplements.
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric and turmeric supplements, has inflammation-fighting properties in high doses.
This research was particularly important news since research increasingly shows the role of chronic inflammation in health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancers, and heart disease.
Arthritis is a group of diseases that causes joint pain and inflammation.
Because of the anti-inflammatory potential of turmeric, it has the potential to ease symptoms of arthritis.
One pilot study showed an improvement in painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis after participants took 500mg of curcumin extract. Although only a small trial, curcumin performed better than a common anti-inflammatory drug prescribed to rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Curcumin’s chemical structure makes it an effective antioxidant.
Antioxidants are an essential part of the body’s defence. They ward off unstable atoms known as free radicals, which may cause diseases and ageing.
A 2017 review suggested that curcumin, the compound found in turmeric and turmeric supplements, works alongside enzymes to neutralise and prevent free radicals.
Effective antidepressants are a significant 21st-century health concern.
In a controlled human trial, researchers judged the effectiveness of curcumin against that of fluoxetine – one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.
Researchers found that curcumin yielded similar results to fluoxetine in its effectiveness as an antidepressant. However, the best results were seen in the group supplied both fluoxetine and curcumin.
Many more clinical trials would be required before scientists could rule turmeric supplements as a natural antidepressant. Nevertheless, studies such as these are promising in searching for better medication for depression.
As we’ve seen, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties mean turmeric may be an effective treatment for some diseases.
These properties also make it a potential option for skin complaints like eczema and acne.
A 2018 review also showed promising results for curcumin as a psoriasis treatment. This common chronic skin disease causes red, itchy and raised patches. In the study, curcumin helped reduce inflammation and even boosted the skin’s protective barrier.
The application of turmeric directly onto the face has also been proposed as an acne treatment. However, its bright mustard colour, which may temporarily stain skin, makes it unideal as a topical treatment.
Turmeric and turmeric supplements seem to have some exciting potential in complementary medicine. The potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin may offer treatment for common diseases, although more research is needed to establish their efficacy and safety.