Turmeric (Curcuma longa, haridra or haldi) is a flavorful yellow-orange spice often referred to as the “golden spice”. It is one of the most important and useful herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric benefits are incredibly numerous, and scientists are confirming its usefulness for many health conditions.
We’ll share the benefits of turmeric along with other important aspects like turmeric side effects and turmeric dosage in this article. Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ll cover. Keep reading. There’s lots of good information here.
Turmeric: Ayurvedic Properties + Historical Use
Turmeric’s Nutritional Profile
Pure Turmeric Vs. Curry Powder
Turmeric And Black Pepper (Anupana)
Turmeric Benefits Are Numerous
It’s A Potent Antioxidant
Turmeric Is A Brain Booster And Alleviates Depression
Turmeric For Heart Health And Reversing The Road To Heart Disease
Turmeric Effectively Reduces Hypertension
Turmeric Lowers Blood Sugar
Turmeric Shows Promise For Digestive Diseases
Turmeric Has Excellent Anti-Arthritic Potential
Turmeric Has Preventive And Therapeutic Actions On Cancer
Turmeric Benefits Eye Disorders
It Curbs Obesity
It Helps In Managing Various Skin Ailments
Turmeric Relieves Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Turmeric Side Effects
Turmeric Warnings + Precautions
The rhizome part of the Curcuma longa plant is used as the spice. The orange pulp contained inside the rhizome constitutes the source of Turmeric’s healing powder.
Let’s explore more about this amazing herb such as its benefits, contraindications, therapeutic uses, composition and dosage, possible side effects, interactions and warnings if any.
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According to Ayurveda, turmeric (haridra) is pungent and bitter in taste. It is dry in nature and has a hot potency (virya). Its post-digestive effect (vipaka) is pungent (katu).1
Ayurveda says that Turmeric pacifies all the three doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha (tridoshashamaka). By virtue of its hotness, it balances Vata and Kapha.
Because of its dryness and its pungent and bitter taste, it balances Kapha dosha. Due to its bitterness, it balances Pitta dosha.
Don’t know your Ayurvedic body type? Take this FREE online quiz to find out!
The ancient Ayurvedic sage Charaka enlisted Turmeric as one of the ten most effective herbs for removing toxins (vishghna mahakashaya).
It’s also one of the most effective herbs for scraping or having a hypolipidemic effect (lekhaniya mahakashaya) and in for its use in dermatological disorders (kustaghna mahakashaya).2
Ayurveda considers Turmeric (Haridra) as a broad spectrum herb having various therapeutic properties.
Those include scraping (lekhaniya), anti-bacterial (Krimighna), anti-inflammatory (shothahar), wound healing (vranaropan) and complexion enhancing (varnya).
It is useful in a variety of skin diseases (kushthaghna), diabetes (pramehahar), nodular swelling (apachihar), anemia (panduhar), allergic rhinitis (pinasahar), anorexia (aruchihar), hives (shitapitta), toxic conditions (vishaghna) and in relieving itching sensations (kandughna).
Sayan, a commentator on the Vedas, the oldest written text on ancient Indian culture, while elaborating on the qualities of turmeric said that if turmeric (haridra) is used for a long period of time it can improve memory and concentration.
In Ayurveda, turmeric powder and honey mixed in the juice of Indian gooseberry (amalaki) is considered a good option for diabetic conditions.3
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The amount of Turmeric (Haridra) powder to take, according to the Ayurveda Pharmacopoeia of India is 1-3 grams. That’s about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons.
One can take this quantity in equal divided dosage with a pinch of black pepper in a glass of milk. You can also try Golden Milk, a delicious hot, spiced milk beverage. Alternatively, you can take it with plain water.
Components of Turmeric are called curcuminoids. They include mainly curcumin (diferuloyl methane), demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin.
Pure turmeric powder had the highest curcumin concentration, averaging 3.14% by weight. Curry powder contains much less (an average of 0.29%).
In addition, some 34 essential oils are present in pure turmeric, among which turmerone, germacrene, atlantone, and zingiberene are the major constituents.
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An anupana is the medium of administration of an herb. It enhances the bioavailability of its nutrients and aids in assisting the action of that herb.
The healing properties cannot be utilized properly because of its poor bioavailability due to rapid metabolism in the liver and intestinal wall.
Black pepper has an active constituent called piperine which is proved to enhance the serum concentration, extent of absorption and bioavailability of curcumin, the active compound of Turmeric, by 2000% without any adverse effects.
So, it is better to take Turmeric with black pepper in order to increase its absorption.5
This herb draws its miracle powers from the presence of the chemical compound curcumin. Here are some evidence-based studies that demonstrate the benefits of Turmeric.
Oxidative stress has been associated with a variety of health problems such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, insomnia and cancer. It happens when the number of free radicals exceeds the number of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our bodies from free radicals.
Curcumin, found in Turmeric, scavenges and neutralizes the different forms of free radicals6, reduces oxidative stress and also boosts the body’s own antioxidant capacity with routine dietary intake.
It possesses natural anti-inflammatory activity. Curcumin has also been shown to suppress inflammation through many different mechanisms thereby supporting its potential as an anti-inflammatory agent.
It inhibits a number of different molecules that play an important role in inflammation. Tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) is a major mediator of inflammation in most diseases. Curcumin effectively inhibits the activity of TNF-α .7
It possesses natural anti-inflammatory activity.
It also suppresses the inflammatory damage by blocking NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation.
Many clinical trials indicate that curcumin has the potential as a therapeutic agent in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), pancreatitis, arthritis, and chronic anterior uveitis, as well as certain types of cancer.
Moreover, the anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin is comparable to corticosteroid therapy and is also found to be better than that of NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen.8
The lack of side effects with curcumin is its greatest advantage compared with corticosteroid therapy.
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Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a naturally occurring growth hormone present in the brain. It has been found to enhance neurogenesis.
Higher levels of BDNF are associated with increased intelligence, mood, productivity, and memory along with decreased risks of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and neuropsychiatric diseases like bipolar disorder and mania.
Curcumin effectively improves the level of BDNF in the brain. Thereby it can positively affect depression, anxiety, brain aging and other brain-related disorders.9
Plaques and tangles of beta-amyloids are formed in the brain as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.
Curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier, binds and clears the Beta-amyloid plaques, delays degradation of neurons, metal-chelation, and decreases microglia formation.
It, therefore, improves the overall memory in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.10Curcumin has potent antidepressant-like activity in depression. It increases the level of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin and dopamine.
It is proved to be effective and safe for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) without showing any concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders.11
READ MORE: Brain Health & Ayurveda With Harvard Trained Dr. Akil Palanisamy
Curcumin is effective in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases as it has beneficial effects on several factors known to play an important role in heart disease.
Endothelium refers to the cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. Endothelial dysfunction is an early predictor of atherosclerosis and is an important prognostic marker for cardiovascular disease.
Dietary intake of curcumin potentially improves the age-related decline in endothelial function by preventing atherosclerosis and reducing the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.
Apart from this, curcuminoids have shown similar favorable effects as compared to that of atorvastatin, a standard drug used to improve cholesterol levels and decrease the risk for a heart attack and stroke.
The effects showed positive outcomes on endothelial dysfunction in association with reductions in inflammatory cytokines and markers of oxidative stress.12
Curcumin helps in preventing atrial arrhythmias and ventricular arrhythmias and significantly decreases heart attack associated with coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).13
READ MORE: 9 Contributors To Heart Disease (Hrud Rog), Arjuna Milk Decoction: Home Remedy Heart Tonic
Due to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, curcumin helps in countering high blood pressure.
It inhibits the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) which is needed to produce angiotensin II, a chemical which makes blood vessels narrower.
The inhibition of ACE widens and relaxes the blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure.14
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It acts as an antihyperglycemic agent. Curcumin reduces blood glucose levels, stimulates insulin secretion and promotes pancreatic activity.
Curcumin is effective in delaying the development of type 2 diabetes by reducing insulin resistance, preventing the death of β-cells, and improving β-cell function and it leads to various improvements in the pathological process of diabetes.15
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Curcumin is considered a very promising therapeutic option for the treatment of gastrointestinal and hepatic diseases such as colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBS), functional digestive disorders, irritable bowel syndrome for which present therapies are largely unsatisfactory.
It’s anti-arthritic and the bone protective property benefits various disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin present in turmeric, it is beneficial in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, arthritis of the knee and ankle, ankylosing spondylitis, bursitis, and fibromyalgia.
Curcumin extracts are proved to be as effective as the painkiller ibuprofen for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis with an added advantage that curcumin is safer for the stomach than ibuprofen.16
One study proves that curcumin employed as an adjuvant therapy with diclofenac has a superior beneficial effect on arthritis than diclofenac alone.17
Curcuminoids prevent the loss of bone tissue as it reduces the activity of osteoclasts (bone cells that absorb bone tissue) and maintains osteoblast function (cells that lay down bone tissue).18
READ MORE: 11 Foods For Osteoarthritis, According To Ayurveda, Golden Milk For Arthritis (Turmeric Milk For Arthritis)
Curcumin has an enormous potential in the prevention and therapy of cancer. It suppresses initiation, progression, and metastasis of a variety of tumors. Many studies have shown that curcumin actually stops cancer cells from dividing.
It suppresses the growth of cancerous cells by simply inhibiting the blood vessels that supply the cancer cells.19
The activity of curcumin has been reported against a variety of cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, gastrointestinal cancers, genitourinary cancers, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, lung cancer, melanoma, neurological cancers, and sarcoma reflects its ability to affect multiple targets.
Curcumin produces remarkable symptomatic relief in patients with external cancerous lesions.
It was seen during a study that, there is a reduction in smell, itching, pain, and lesion size and the lesion become dry on the application of turmeric ointment.20
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition that occurs due to abnormal functioning of specific retinal cells which are susceptible to oxidative stress.
It is the leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. As curcumin is loaded with antioxidant properties it has shown to be a preventive and augmentative therapy of AMD.
Dietary supplementation of curcumin has also been found effective in diabetic retinopathy and retinal neuroprotection.21
Curcumin supplementation also ameliorates inflammation and thereby provides benefits in chronic anterior uveitis (inflammation of the iris and middle coat of the eyeball).
READ MORE: What Is Netra Basti?, Netra Tarpana: Ayurvedic Treatment For Dry Eyes (Case Study), Digital Eye Strain: Pamper Your Eyes With Ayurvedic Treatments, Foods + Exercises
Curcumin helps in promoting weight loss and reducing the incidence of obesity-related diseases by preventing differentiation and proliferation of fat tissue. It also suppresses chronic inflammation in fat tissue.
Through these diverse mechanisms, curcumin reduces obesity and also prevents its adverse effects on health.22
READ MORE: Easy 4-Step Ayurvedic Weight Loss Plan + Home Remedies For Over Weight, Triphala For Weight Loss, Turmeric Can Help You Lose Weight
Turmeric is an excellent wound healer on topical application.
Curcumin, the active compound, reduces inflammation, enhances granulation tissue formation, collagen deposition, tissue remodeling, wound contraction and helps in the formation of new tissue.
It was seen during a study in women who had cesarean sections that the application of Turmeric cream showed positive effects on the speed of their cesarean wound healing.23
Curcumin in low doses has been successful in stimulating antioxidant defenses in human dermal fibroblasts which shows the inhibitory effect of curcumin on UV induced skin damage.
It keeps a check on skin aging by preventing tanning and the formation of wrinkles as it inhibits an enzyme (matrix metalloproteinase-2) which can degrade collagen, the component responsible for skin elasticity.24
Topical application in a cream base is helpful in maintaining oil balance by regulating excessive sebum secretion in those suffering from acne and related problems.25
It helps in preventing psoriasis, an inflammatory disease of the skin, by decreasing the activity of phosphorylase kinase (PhK) which is responsible for this condition.
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Curcumin present in Turmeric provides relief in PMS by regulating brain chemicals, neurotransmitters and reducing inflammation. It attenuates pain and mood changes occurring in PMS.
It is helpful in stimulating contraction and uterine bleeding. That is how it helps in regularizing the menstrual cycle and normalizing the menstrual flow.26
Curcumin has a long-established safety record. According to The Joint United Nations and World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reports, the Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) value of curcumin is 0–3 mg/kg of body weight.27
Despite its well-established safety, during some studies, some people experienced some side effects like diarrhea, headache, rash and yellow stool.
Turmeric might interact with certain medicines. Take caution when using the following medications.
Turmeric, when taken in a limited amount in the form of spice in food, is safe. But intake of high doses of Turmeric supplements is likely to be unsafe in the following conditions.
Always keep in mind that adding Turmeric in a limited quantity as a spice is invariably beneficial for health as it is full of nutrients and provides several health advantages.
But in order to treat any health condition, it is better to speak with your health care provider before using a turmeric supplement. Turmeric benefits are numerous.
Consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner to see if turmeric is right for you.
1. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia Of India, Part 1, volume 1.
2. Vaidya Yadavaji Trikamaji, Charaka Samhita, Sutra sthana, chapter 4, verse 8-16, 8-3,8-13, Chaukhmba surbharati prakashana, reprint 2000.
3. Vaidya Yadavaji Trikamaji, Charaka Samhita Chikitsa sthana, chapter 6, verse 26, Chaukhmba surbharati prakashana, reprint 2000.
4. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release.
5. Shoba G Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6.
6. Menon VP, Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007; 595():105-25.[PubMed] 7. Amirhossein Sahebkar, Curcumin downregulates human tumor necrosis factor-α levels: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Pharmacological Research Volume 107, May 2016, Pages 234-242.
8. Takada Y, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-kappaB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation. Oncogene. 2004 Dec 9;23(57):9247-58.
9. Laura L. Hurley, Antidepressant-like effects of curcumin in WKY rat model of depression is associated with an increase in hippocampal BDNF Behavioral Brain Research Volume 239, 15 February 2013, Pages 27-30.
10. Shrikant Mishra, The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview, Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2008 Jan-Mar; 11(1): 13–19.doi: 10.4103/0972-2327.40220PMCID: PMC2781139PMID: 19966973.
11. Sanmukhani J, Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial, Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5025. Epub 2013 Jul 6.
12. Usharani P, Effect of NCB-02, atorvastatin and placebo on endothelial function, oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, 8-week study. Drugs R D. 2008;9(4):243-50.
13. Wongcharoen W, Effects of curcuminoids on frequency of acute myocardial infarction after coronary artery bypass grafting. Am J Cardiol. 2012 Jul 1;110(1):40-4. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.02.043. Epub 2012 Apr 3.
14. Lekshmi, P. C., Ranjith Arimboor, V. M. Nisha, A. Nirmala Menon, and K. G. Raghu. “In vitro antidiabetic and inhibitory potential of turmeric (Curcuma longa L) rhizome against cellular and LDL oxidation and angiotensin converting enzyme.” Journal of food science and technology 51, no. 12 (2014): 3910-3917.
15. Chuengsamarn, Somlak, Suthee Rattanamongkolgul, Rataya Luechapudiporn, Chada Phisalaphong, and Siwanon Jirawatnotai. “Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 35, no. 11 (2012): 2121-2127.
16. Kuptniratsaikul V Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Mar 20;9:451-8. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S58535. eCollection 2014.PubMed
17. Chandran B1, Goel A., A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012, Nov;26(11):1719-25. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. Epub 2012Mar 9 pub med
18. Yeh CC, et al. Evaluation of the protective effects of curcuminoid (curcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin)-loaded liposomes against bone turnover in a cell-based model of osteoarthritis. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2015 Apr20;9:2285-300. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S78277. eCollection 2015. Pub med
19. Jayaraj Ravindran, Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively? AAPS J. 2009 Sep; 11(3): 495–510. Published online 2009 Jul 10. doi: 10.1208/s12248-009- 9128-xPMCID: PMC2758121PMID: 19590964.
20. Kuttan, Ramadasan, P. C. Sudheeran, and C. D. Josph. “Turmeric and curcumin as topical agents in cancer therapy.” Tumori 73, no. 1 (1987): 29-31.
21. Je Moon Woo, Curcumin protects retinal pigment epithelial cells against oxidative stress via induction of heme oxygenase-1 expression and reduction of reactive oxygen, Mol Vis. 2012; 18: 901–908.Published online 2012 Apr 11.PMCID: PMC3335783PMID: 22539869.
22. Bradford PG,Curcumin and obesity. Biofactors. 2013 Jan-Feb;39(1):78- 87. doi: 10.1002/biof.1074. Epub 2013 Jan 22.
23. Mahmudi, G., M. Nikpour, M. Azadbackt, R. Zanjani, M. A. Jahani, A. Aghamohammadi, and Y. Jannati. “The Impact of Turmeric Cream on Healing of Caesarean Scar.” West Indian Medical Journal 64, no. 4 (2015).
24. Sumiyoshi, Maho, and Yoshiyuki Kimura. “Effects of a turmeric extract (Curcuma longa) on chronic ultraviolet B irradiation-induced skin damage in melanin-possessing hairless mice.” Phytomedicine 16, no. 12 (2009): 1137-1143.
25. Zaman, S. U., and Naveed Akhtar. “Effect of turmeric (Curcuma longa Zingiberaceae) extract cream on human skin sebum secretion.” Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 12, no. 5 (2013): 665-669.
26. Khayat S, Curcumin attenuates severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2015 Jun;23(3):318-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2015.04.001. Epub 2015 Apr 9
27. Kocaadam B ,Curcumin, an active component of turmeric (Curcuma longa), and its effects on health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Sep 2; 57(13):2889-2895.[PubMed].
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