Top Turmeric Supplement Benefits and Apothecary Advice
Dubbed “Indian saffron,” the bold, yellow turmeric plant has a documented history of medicinal use. For nearly 4,000 years, the benefits of turmeric have been recognized in Southeast Asia, where turmeric is a common cooking spice in curry dishes and a sacred plant in religious ceremonies. Studies over the past two decades1 indicate a wider acceptance of the medicinal use of turmeric supplements in modern medicine.
- Common names: Curcuma longa, haldi
- Native to: Southern Asia
- Habitat: Hot, humid tropical climates
- Therapeutic compounds: Curcumininoids (also antioxidants), volatile oils, terpenes
Read on to learn the traditional and modern uses of turmeric, plus dosage suggestions. Then, stay tuned for unique recipes and ways to add turmeric to your apothecary.
Traditional and Modern Uses
Turmeric belongs to the same family (Zingiberaceae) as ginger. Turmeric is an ancient supplement, but one with timeless benefits. Over thousands of years, humans have found many ways to use the bright, yellow root for mild ailments and chronic diseases.
In Indian traditional medicine, known as Ayurveda, turmeric is regularly prepared as a plant remedy. Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine also use it in their work. Modern research supports the benefits of the whole plant and ground form, revealing a long list of therapeutic opportunities.
In folklore, people purportedly medicated or worked with turmeric for:
- Dying clothes2
- Menstrual irregularities
- Liver and gallbladder Issues
- Urinary tract infections
- Wound healing and skin conditions
- Blood purification
Some of the modern research also supports the traditional uses of turmeric:
- Antioxidant: Test tube studies show that turmeric has significant antioxidant abilities. Studies in humans3 further confirm that turmeric supplements decrease free radicals and increase antioxidants in the body, protecting the body against oxidative stress.
- Antimicrobial: Research4 shows that turmeric is an impressive antibacterial agent with the ability to eradicate a variety of foodborne bacteria, including H. pylori and E. coli, commonly associated with stomach and intestinal upset.
- Anticancer: In various research models5, turmeric was reported to have anticancer properties against the development of skin, breast, oral, and stomach cancer. It may inhibit the mutation of cells, assist in detoxification, and induce tumor cell death.
- Mental health: Turmeric is a plant-based remedy for depressive symptoms. In multiple animal and test tube studies6, turmeric showed promise by decreasing stress and increasing serotonin, thus regulating the neurochemical processes of mice in high-stress situations. Turmeric may work as an alternative to antidepressants or as an add-on treatment for those with mild to moderate depression.
- Arthritis: People with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other forms of arthritis may benefit from turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties. In a study7 featuring patients with knee-related OA, those who received curcumin felt more relief than those who took a placebo.
- Heart health: Adding turmeric supplements to your diet may8 help control blood pressure, cholesterol, and endothelial dysfunction, all of which contribute to cardiovascular disease.
- Digestion: A randomized two-dose study9 in healthy adults assessed the effects of turmeric extract in tablet form on IBS symptoms. The prevalence of IBS dropped 53% and 60% after treatment in the one-tablet and two-tablet groups and was associated with a marked decrease in IBS symptoms.
Currently, few studies in animals or humans have discovered major toxic side effects associated with the use of turmeric. Even at high doses, the side effect profile of turmeric is low (*clears throat* particularly when compared to most of the drug company ads you see on television).
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)10 conducted clinical trials with turmeric and deemed it, as well as the active component curcumin, as GRAS (generally regarded as safe). Studies11 with turmeric doses in the 0.45mg to 500mg range demonstrate therapeutic value, but many studies have looked at turmeric doses at much higher doses in the 2,000mg-8,000mg range.
As with any supplement, be sure to check in with a doctor to rule out possible drug interactions if you’re on prescribed medication. And when trying new supplements, follow the serving size recommended on the product label.
Potential Side Effects
Although turmeric and its medicinal properties have been shown to exhibit benefits for a plethora of human diseases, some research12 reports undesired adverse effects associated with high doses of turmeric, such as:
- Yellow stool
Recipes for Your Apothecary
Before turmeric becomes a powder, processors must dry and grind turmeric rhizomes into powder form. You can find turmeric powder in the spice section of most grocery store chains. There are many savory and sweet ways to incorporate this vibrant, yellow substance into your home apothecary. Some examples of turmeric recipes are:
- Yellow curry
- Golden turmeric rice
- Golden latte
- Turmeric tea
If you’re on a time constraint and not quite sold on the taste of turmeric on its own, Purpose is a ready-to-mix powder with blended turmeric, blueberry, and other tasty fruits and veggies. In about thirty seconds after mixing it in water, you have a powerful beverage (ft. turmeric) that supports daytime focus and energy.
Turmeric is an amazing plant with beneficial properties that have been cherished for thousands of years. As a primary ingredient in many Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian recipes, this colorful spice not only packs a punch of flavor but also boasts a long list of medicinal properties. Studies show that turmeric holds substantial value in treating everything from digestive tract ailments to arthritis, skin conditions, and beyond.