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Benefits of Turmeric for Your Health

10/12/2022 | 5 min. read

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Turmeric is so much more than a spice used to season curry or make a warm cup of golden milk. The health benefits of turmeric can also extend into a variety of positive impacts on health and wellness.

Learn more about this unique plant and how you can harness its power to help improve your life.

Turmeric Basics

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice from the root of a flowering plant member of the ginger family, Curcuma longa, native to Southeast Asia. When used in cooking, as commonly seen in India, Pakistan, Persia, and Thailand, it imparts a spicy, slightly bitter taste compared to black pepper.

The spice also contains one compound in particular that is thought to be behind many of its benefits, curcumin.

Curcumin is the primary phenolic compound in turmeric, giving it its beautiful yellow color and potentially reducing swelling in various ways. Turmeric’s ability to help reduce inflammation extends to multiple body systems and works in various ways to help improve health.

Turmeric was initially used in both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine as part of their holistic protocols. The supplement has since spread into Western alternative medicine use.

Due to its potential for medicinal benefit and its use in cooking, turmeric has earned the label of a “functional food.” With proper planning, you may even be able to get the medicinal benefit without direct supplementation.

What Are the Benefits of Turmeric?

One of the best parts about turmeric is that it has been the focus of thousands of different medical studies, unlike many other supplements. When we speak of its benefits, we are speaking from scientific research, which lends validity and credibility to the supplement’s potential.

Turmeric May Help Combat Depressive Symptoms

Although studies haven’t yet extended much into human trials, turmeric has shown great potential in its ability to help reduce symptoms of depression in laboratory animals by promoting serotonin and dopamine production. This antidepressant function may be tied to its impact on neurotransmitter function via brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF), a protein found in the central nervous system.

Again, turmeric is not to be used in place of any recommended medical treatment for depression. Always consult with your mental health provider before starting any new supplementation.

Turmeric May Be Help Support Treatment for Arthritic Pain

With the potential of curcumin to reduce swelling, turmeric and turmeric extracts have become a popular active ingredient in supplements to help with the pain and swelling that are frequent symptoms of arthritis.

In fact, these anti-inflammatory properties have scientifically shown their validity even when compared to traditional over-the-counter therapies like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin). This is especially helpful as many of the conventional medicine choices used to treat arthritis have an increased risk of side effects like heart disease.

It should be mentioned that the studies of how turmeric can impact arthritic pain have primarily been performed on those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Turmeric Is Full of Antioxidants and Great For The Skin

The antioxidant properties of turmeric are behind many of its benefits, including how impactful it can be for the skin. When applied either directly to the skin or taken orally, turmeric supplementation can help with various skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, and acne. It can also help to improve the overall appearance of the skin, giving it a radiant luster.

However, be aware that using turmeric directly on the skin can also lead to potential staining. Combine supplementation with a supportive skincare routine and prepare to be amazed. In general, anything packed with antioxidants can also help to combat the overall effects of oxidative damage done by free radicals.

Turmeric May Help To Regulate Cholesterol

While more scientific research is necessary to prove the correlation between turmeric and cholesterol levels, the animal-based studies that have been performed look incredibly optimistic.

With how potentially dangerous elevated cholesterol levels can be, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides, anything that may help reduce those levels (and decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other adverse reactions) is optimistic.

Turmeric Can Potentially Help Manage Diabetes

The benefits of turmeric can also extend into help with managing diabetes. Specifically, the supplement shows the potential to activate an enzyme known as AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Researchers commonly see AMPK as a “therapeutic target” for learning more about diabetes so that additional treatments and management of the disease are possible.

In addition, turmeric may also help combat one of the more common diabetic complications, diabetic neuropathy. This side effect of the disease involves damage to the nerves, resulting in issues with sensation in the extremities.

The result of this lack of pain sensation can be injuries that you don’t identify until they’ve gotten more significant.

Turmeric May Reduce the Likelihood of Blood Clot Formation

One final bright spot with turmeric supplementation is its potential to help impact the formation of blood clots. Blood clots can be painful and even lead to fatal complications in certain situations.

Turmeric has shown potential in helping to reduce platelet aggregation (clumping), a factor that leads to blood clot formation. While turmeric on its own hasn’t proven to prevent blood clots from forming, including it (with your medical provider’s permission) if you are at increased risk may be beneficial.

Are There Any Side Effects Related With Turmeric Supplementation?

No supplement or medication is without the potential for side effects, even if those side effects are mild. Turmeric is no different, so being aware of what to look for is key in helping to catch and treat them earlier.

Possible side effects of turmeric supplementation or high doses of turmeric, mainly when first starting out, include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In Conclusion

At Healthy Directions, we understand that the benefits of turmeric are impressive and extend throughout the body, including for issues like diabetes, cholesterol, depression, and long-term skin concerns.

Sources:

Turmeric - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

Curcumin - Search Results | PubMed (nih.gov)

Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor | NIH (nih.gov)

A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis | PubMed

Healthy Directions Staff Editor