What are the benefits of turmeric/curcumin?

The root of the curcuma longa plant is harvested, cleaned, dried, and ground to golden powder to provide you with turmeric as a flavoring for curries.

Curcumin - A bowl of turmeric rhizomes

Curcumin is anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, wound healing, antimicrobial and anti-oxidant, but to get impressive health benefits from curcumin, you would need to use large amounts in supplement form; just eating curry will not provide medicinal doses. Past studies have indicated it is safe (in health trials) to take as much as 12 grams per day over a 3 month period. To put that into perspective, a tablespoon of turmeric weighing almost 7 grams may contain 135 milligrams of curcumin (it will vary among brands, sources, crops, processing methods, etc.); you would need to eat 89 tablespoons, or 623 grams of turmeric to get 12 grams of curcumin. Most recommendations for home dosing is much, much less (and usually found on product packaging). Small doses may be helpful as a protective agent to reasonably healthy people without diagnosed conditions.

There have been numerous studies with promising results for treatment of disease conditions with curcumin. Curcumin is not easily absorbed by the body, but eating it along with black pepper, or piperine, helps to increase absorption. Scientists continue to look for ways to make curcumin more bioavailable. That includes with chemicals, which is not ideal, but also by reconstitution with turmeric from which it came. If you supplement, make sure your turmeric extract or curcumin product contains piperine and when you cook with turmeric, use black pepper as additional seasoning.

Some of the conditions that may be helped by turmeric/curcumin supplementation:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic arsenic exposure
  • Exercise-induced inflammation
  • Hepatic conditions
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Intoxication
  • Memory and mood (i.e. in dementia patients)
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Muscle soreness
  • Oxidative and inflammatory conditions (which includes many individual conditions)

Curcumin is considered as generally safe but a small number of people have reported side effects including: