What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a brightly colored spice that is traditionally used in Indian cooking. Sometimes called Indian turmeric, it grows naturally in Southeast Asia and has been used medicinally for centuries. Turmeric’s “claim to fame” is that it contains a powerful antioxidant called curcumin.


Thanks to curcumin, turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may play a role in reducing the risk of several diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Turmeric seasoning and supplements are made from the rhizome — or root — of the plant, which is ground.


Here’s everything you need to know about the health benefits of turmeric, and how to add it to your diet.



Turmeric is widely known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, it has been studied as a potential remedy for anxiety, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, and many inflammatory conditions. Scientists attribute most of turmeric’s benefits to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.


Although turmeric has been studied for many years, most research has been done in animals or in vitro (human cells in a Petri dish). Because several studies have been conducted on humans, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that the health benefits of turmeric are still uncertain. However, some limited evidence suggests turmeric may have some health benefits.


Can Improve Kidney Disease in Diabetics

Kidney disease, also known as kidney disease, is caused by diabetes and affects one third of all people with diabetes. If your diabetes is not well managed, excess sugar in your blood can damage your kidney’s blood vessels over time. Kidney disease usually develops slowly, over many years.


A small study looked at people with type 2 diabetes with end-stage kidney disease. They found that supplementing with turmeric led to improvements in tests measuring markers of kidney damage. The tests found lower levels in the participants of albumin, a muscle-building protein that is normally present in your blood, and is only found in the urine when there is kidney damage. Although the study was small, with only 40 participants, it did show some promising improvements in kidney function for those taking turmeric supplements.


May Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is part of your immune system’s defense. When you encounter a virus or injure yourself, your immune system sends inflammatory cells and chemicals, such as cytokines, to protect and heal your body. Chronic inflammation means your immune system may send out inflammatory responses all the time, even when it’s not needed. Chronic inflammation can lead to pain, fatigue, depression, weight gain, infections, acid reflux and other problems.


A group of researchers analyzed the results of seven clinical trials that looked at turmeric and oxidative stress, the imbalance between destroyer cells and antioxidant cells in your body that can lead to inflammation. In this analysis, they found that taking turmeric supplements for more than six weeks resulted in fewer markers of oxidative stress and increases in antioxidants. However, it should be noted that this study was small. The study authors say larger studies are needed before any health benefits can be fully understood.


May Improve Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome, also called insulin resistance, is a condition that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood sugar, high triglycerides and high blood pressure. This also includes abdominal obesity and low “good” HDL cholesterol. One in three adults has metabolic syndrome.


A small study looked at the effects of curcumin supplementation in participants with metabolic syndrome. They specifically tested for pro-inflammatory cytokines, as these proteins are linked to the metabolic syndrome. They found that turmeric significantly reduced the cytokines in the participants’ blood over eight weeks. This study is also small, and requires larger studies to be carried out.


May Help with Depression and Anxiety

Depression is a common and serious medical problem characterized by feelings of sadness, low energy, low appetite, loss of pleasure and other symptoms. Nearly 17% of people will experience depression in their lifetime, usually in their late teens or early 20s.


A group of scientists analyzed the results of nine studies looking at the effects of turmeric on depression and anxiety. They found that participants who supplemented with turmeric showed significant improvements in symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, the study authors concluded that the study was too small to base any medical decisions on, and further research is needed.


Can Inhibit Cancer Cells

Cancer refers to a number of diseases that all have one thing in common: cells begin to grow abnormally, and spread and damage surrounding body tissues. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by deaths from heart disease.


Many studies have been conducted on turmeric and cancer, but most have been studied in animals, such as mice, or in vitro. Some have been performed on humans. Most studies show that curcumin nanoparticles can slow the growth of cancer cells, or even reduce tumor size and weight. Larger studies in humans are needed before anything can be proven definitively.


May Improve Pain With Arthritis


Arthritis is inflammation of the joints where two bones meet, such as the knee or elbow. There are many types of arthritis, and each has its own causes and treatments. Arthritis is characterized by joint pain and swelling, although the cause is unknown. One in four adults in the United States has arthritis and is a leading cause of disability.


Turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Studies show that turmeric can modify proinflammatory cells called cytokines, which can reduce inflammation in people with osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis.


A group of scientists conducted a review of all the turmeric research and concluded that while many studies show turmeric has a beneficial effect on arthritis, the studies were too small to allow definitive recommendations for the use of turmeric in arthritis patients at this time. .



Turmeric is a spice used in cooking in many parts of the world. In India, it is used in curries, in Japan it is served in teas, and in the US it is used as a supplement and condiment. The curcumin in turmeric is also available in creams, energy drinks, cosmetics and soaps.


Curcumin in turmeric is poorly absorbed by the human body unless black pepper is added to it. If using turmeric in cooking, try adding black pepper for maximum health benefits.


Turmeric is a fat-soluble substance, meaning you need to eat it with a fat source for it to be properly absorbed. Pair it with a fat source like avocado or cheese.



Turmeric is considered safe when eaten in food or drink, or applied to the skin. It is not known whether turmeric is safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding because it has not been fully studied in these populations.


Several companies are developing turmeric or curcumin products that have increased bioavailability so they are better absorbed. It is important to remember that reformulating herbs for better absorption can also increase the harmful effects of the supplement.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved curcuminoids — anything isolated from turmeric — and called them “generally regarded as safe.” Supplements from turmeric with 4,000 to 8,000 milligrams per day are considered safe.




Just like regular drugs, herbs and supplements can also cause negative interactions if taken together with other drugs or supplements. Turmeric is known to decrease your body’s ability to absorb certain medications, such as cancer or heart disease medications. It can also increase your risk of negative side effects when taken with antidepressants, antibiotics, diabetes medications, or allergy medications.


Studies don’t provide enough evidence to make a hard and fast rule, so you should talk to your healthcare provider before starting turmeric supplements.


Where can we buy


Turmeric is available as a supplement at most grocery stores or pharmacies, and comes in capsule form. It is important to remember that supplements are not regulated by the FDA to the same extent as drugs. Supplements are only tested for safety, and the FDA controls what claims product labels can have. When buying supplements, make sure you find a brand that has been tested by a third party to ensure that you are getting the pure formulation of the right supplement.


Turmeric grows naturally in India and other parts of Southeast Asia. Many grocery stores sell turmeric fresh in their produce section, and as a dried spice in the aisle with other spices.


Can You Take Too Much Turmeric?


It is possible to take too much turmeric, but the chances are slim. One study found that heavy doses may be toxic to cells, but other studies have shown that supplements of less than 8,000 mg daily are safe. More research is needed to find the best dosage for turmeric.



Turmeric is complex and difficult to study because it changes easily in your body and reaches your bloodstream little. Because of this, several manufacturers have produced turmeric or curcumin products that have better absorption.


It is important to read labels clearly and talk to your healthcare provider about the amount of turmeric you are consuming, if you choose to take it.



Although rare, turmeric supplementation can cause side effects in some people. These side effects may include:


  • skin rash
  • Diarrhea or other gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Nauseous
  • Headache



Turmeric has shown great promise as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, with possible beneficial effects for people with cancer, metabolic syndrome, depression, arthritis, or other inflammatory conditions. More scientific research is being conducted now to continue the search for turmeric’s full potential for human health.


Try using turmeric as a spice in your cooking, if you like the taste. If you choose to supplement with turmeric or curcumin, talk to your healthcare provider, especially if you are taking other medications.

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