All About Turmeric: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, And Much More

Date
June
15
2022
Compiled By Louise Rodriguez
Medically Reviewed By Dr. P Stein, MD FACT CHECKED

Turmeric is the most famous spice used in food to add color and flavor to food in the majority of Indian cuisines.

It is a plant-based spice that is supposedly perfect for your health.

In this article, we will discuss everything about turmeric from its uses to side effects and much more in between.

What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric, as we discussed, is a common spice obtained from roots of the plant Curcuma longa and filled with the chemical curcumin which has been reported to reduce swelling.

This spice plant belongs to the family of ginger scientifically named Zingiberaceae.

This warm and bitterly tasting spice is a favorite in Asian kitchens with its richness in yellow coloring.

It has been extensively used[1] in medicine for ages and has earned its glory by the name of ‘the golden spice’ which is one of the main members of the masala box of every Indian household.

Turmeric could easily be called “jack of all” when it comes to a household where it could give incredible taste and color to your food while also working as a medicine for any sort of painful swelling or inflammation.

What Is Turmeric Good For?

Turmeric is a great multipurpose space that is good for probably everything.

The benefits it provides are far from par with any other spice or any such item on the market.

Turmeric itself gives you tons of reasons to believe that it is the best spice in the world.

  1. Bioactive Compounds

    3 percent of turmeric is curcumin by weight and this little amount of curcumin in turmeric works like a charm for tons of health purposes.

    Where people rely on supplements for their daily curcumin needs, which is easily absorbable in the bloodstream, they could use turmeric instead.

    Since curcumin turmeric also improves[2] bioavailability.

    Another source of curcumin is piperine which comes from black pepper but the plus point is that turmeric also helps your body to absorb this too.

  2. Might Improve Antioxidant Capacity

    Antioxidants tend to eradicate oxidative damage[3] to our bodies by neutralizing free radicals. These may otherwise result in aging and many other diseases.

    Curcumin which is rich in antioxidant content is a great source to neutralize your body’s free radicals preventing you from many diseases.

    Studies have even shown that curcumin could block the action of free radicals and stimulate and increase the action of antioxidants in one’s body.

  3. May Prevent Cardiac Arrest

    The main reason behind any cardiac arrest is the thickening of blood in the veins and arteries.

    To prevent this condition the blood of the person must be thin enough.

    Luckily, turmeric has been proven as an excellent natural blood thinner that helps your body prevent[4] cardiac arrest by thinning the blood in the bloodstream.

    Regular consumption of turmeric in small amounts could prevent a person from cardiac arrest and blood-thinning drugs that may have a bad impact on your health and body.

  4. Might Prevent Cancer

    Cancer in one’s body grows due to cell growth. Curcumin, the special element of turmeric, has been proven beneficial in cancer treatment since it affects the cancer growth and development in one’s body.

    Studies[5] have even proved that it kills the cancerous cells, reduces the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, and prevents the spread of cancer in your body.

  5. May Reduces Cholesterol

    Extreme levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood tend to make you suffer from diabetes and even harmful versions of it.

    Turmeric, the golden spice, consumed via mouth could decrease[6] the levels of blood fat in your blood called triglycerides.

    This further prevents and protects you from diabetes or any other sugar-related disease.

  6. Potentially Help With Swellings And Sores

    All types of inflammations and sores in the mouth could be treated through the consumption through the mouth.

    Even using turmeric powder for mouthwash has shown good results in preventing swelling or sores in the mouth, especially during radiation treatment for cancer.

Turmeric Powder

Turmeric powder a powdered version of turmeric is a bright yellow spice created out of dried turmeric rhizomes.

This peppery yet warm flavored spice has excellent preservative properties[7].

The curcumin present in it makes it a good source for cosmetic as well as medical usage which has been a popular Vedic medicine for about 3000 years now.

It is recommended to consume 1 to 3 grams of turmeric daily. Turmeric powder available in the market in abundance should be wisely selected.

It is always advised to buy the turmeric powder produced by renowned brands.

Since it is easily contaminated and artificially colored by many competitor brands to make it look attractive to lure the customers towards it.

The date of manufacturing must also be checked before buying the product. Also, check the aroma of it which may be foul if expired.

Besides everything, the best way is to grind the dried turmeric rhizomes at home to obtain turmeric powder.

Turmeric Pills

Turmeric pills are nothing but medical pills of turmeric used as a medicine or dietary supplement.

They are used to increase the consumption of curcumin in the body for the major health benefits discussed above.

It is extracted from the roots of the Curcuma longa plant or in other words turmeric. Turmeric pills contain a mixture of curcuminoids.

These are responsible for the reduction of free radicals in the body and stimulation of antioxidants in the body to provide health benefits and dietary benefits.

Surprisingly, turmeric tablets could even be produced at home where you mix turmeric with black pepper to increase the content of curcumin and piperine in the pill.

The powder mixture is then to be stored in a capsule. Turmeric pills could even be consumed with a meal.

Serious Side Effects Of Turmeric

Turmeric itself is a very safe and beneficial spice to consume but one must remember the saying that goes – ‘Excess of everything is bad’.

Similarly, excessive consumption of turmeric could have its downsides and some of which are serious problems.

  1. May Lead To Digestion Problems

    Technically, turmeric helps a huge load when it comes to digestion by helping the food pass through the intestines easily.

    But, excessive consumption of turmeric, like other spices, could have a bad impact on your stomach and intestines due to the immense heat produced in the body by it.

  2. Risk Of Blood-Thinning

    Turmeric could prevent you from any type of cardiac arrest by thinning the blood and making it dilute to an extent needed by the body.

    Yet, excessive intake of turmeric could be alarmingly bad for the density of your blood.

    Turmeric could thin your blood to an extent of causing thrombocytopenia and excessive bleeding, while the worst impact could be platelet aggregation.

  3. Could Stimulate Contractions

    Turmeric like other spices being warm could stimulate labor which is not an optimal case for pregnant women.

    Even though there aren’t many clinical studies to prove this allegation, it is recommended for pregnant women to stay away from turmeric due to its blood-thinning capabilities.

  4. May Cause Iron Deficit

    It is highly recommended for people with low iron content to stay away from turmeric.

    Turmeric has been reported[8] to block the absorption of iron in the body due to the high dosage of the spice by the user.

  5. Might Impact Menstruation

    Turmeric, while technology helps in the menstruation cycle, and is a major companion to ease the pain yet it could be harmful if consumed in excess.

    Due to its blood-thinning properties, turmeric could cause excessive bleeding during the menstruation period.

    The warmness of turmeric could cause heavy bleeding in a woman.

  6. Drug interactions

    Turmeric may interact with diabetes, blood pressure medicine, or those related to acid production in the stomach.

    It has to be used cautiously[9] to avoid such issues.

Is Turmeric Good For You?

Turmeric is a spice and medicine with tons of benefits that could only backfire if taken without proper care and in excess quantities.

While the golden spice improves immunity, prevents one’s body from the majority of harmful diseases, and even helps during menstruation.

Even so, it could have its dark side like other elements in the universe.

It also may not be an optimal product for some people but the bottom line is that if turmeric is used with caution while fulfilling the prerequisites, it could turn out to be a life-changer for a person.

It can make an unstoppable healthy being. Do note that you need to consult your doctor before using it as a treatment for any sort of ailment.

Pregnant women or people using certain medications like anti-cancer, antidepressants, and blood thinners should avoid the usage of turmeric.

It should be used at a limit of 5-8 grams to gain all the benefits.

Turmeric Benefits

Turmeric, as said above, is a spice with numerous health benefits.

In early times, people used to make a paste of turmeric to heal wounds faster, its milk cures internal injuries and gives strength quickly.

It has antibacterial properties and is great for the skin.

Golden milk which is turmeric milk was believed to be the best drink for healing internal injuries, boosting stamina, increasing energy, and strengthening the immune system.

Let us examine some of its uses in detail.

  • Immunity Booster

    As Ayurveda suggests[10], adding a little turmeric to food and drinking golden milk can make your immune health better. It may be able to cure diseases but it acts as a barrier.

    So in the first place, it is prevention, not a cure. It has antioxidants which are important to stay rejuvenated, young and healthy.

    Anti-inflammatory properties might show short-term effects but are quite helpful. Most importantly it has antibacterial properties which is a great plus point. 

  • Good For Skin

    Turmeric has been a huge part of advertising natural herb-containing cosmetics. Soaps, creams, and face packs are used commercially using turmeric.

    The properties[11] are backed by Ayurveda. Turmeric has been a part of DIY face masks in the Indian subcontinent for ages. It gives a natural glow.

    It is used in wedding rituals and holds a very significant religious value. Talking about the scientific angle, since it has antioxidants it is undoubtedly great for smooth and glowing skin. 

  • May Prevent Cardiac Arrest

    Turmeric is known to be a natural blood thinner. Consuming turmeric thins the blood which avoids thickening and clotting.

    This is beneficial when it comes to preventing cardiac arrest beforehand. Adding this spice in small amounts to food may save you from blood-thinning medicine.

    In the long term, it will prevent you from falling prey to a heart attack.

  • Great For Oral Health

    Gingivitis is very commonly observed and bleeding gums while brushing can be the first symptom of it. The swelling in the gums and bleeding can cause immense problems.

    Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and this property[12] has been well known traditionally and used for making paste for teeth and gums.

    Its antibacterial properties help in controlling the bacteria in the mouth and the smell. As a result, the gums become strong and healthy and teeth become whiter.

    For the DIY mask, mix a pinch of turmeric and coconut oil. You can replace coconut oil with mustard oil as well. Add salt or you can skip it too.

    Apply this on teeth with fingers or brush. Keep it for two minutes and rinse your mouth. Some people prefer brushing after it to avoid any bad taste.

    If you do not feel like replacing your toothpaste with this paste, use it in between. Do not worry about turmeric staining your teeth. It won’t.

    Note: Turmeric can turn your toothbrush yellow and stain your clothes. Be cautious. 

  • Improves Brain Health

    Beginning with the very basic effects, turmeric improves memory and mood. To talk about it more practically, it improves the production of brain hormones which aids in fighting degenerative processes.

    It helps in producing new neurons and even prevents brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Medicinal Properties

    Be it traditional or modern medicine, it has been used for the treatment of internal and external wounds.

    For ages it has been used to treat arthritis, cancer prevention, boost energy, relieve has, regulate menstruation, and improve digestion.

    In modern times also, its antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and curcumin present in it are beneficial.

    It can regulate blood sugar levels, bacterial and fungal infections, and inhibit the growth of tumors.

  • Acne Healer

    Turmeric which is a natural antiseptic with antibacterial properties might be very effective to prevent acne on the skin.

    It could prevent skin cells from clogging the pores and due to the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, acne could be healed quickly.

  • Solution To Dull Skin

    A damaged skin that has lost its smoothness and radiance could be purified by turmeric due to the antioxidant powers of the natural cosmetic seriously inducing a glow in one’s skin.

    It could make your complexion stronger and brighter by boosting micro circulations.

  • Treatment Of Dark Circles

    Dark circles could be easily defeated by applying turmeric powder underneath your eyes where the dark circles persist and then washing it away after a few minutes.

    This is possible due to the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and skin-lightening properties of turmeric.

Conclusion

Turmeric is the most significant herb of ancient times which continues to have the same importance in modern times.

The golden spice may prove to be very helpful in the field of medicine.

Further studies and large-scale research is required to understand its true potential.

+12 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed researches, academic and medical institution studies. 

  1. Turmeric. Last Updated: May 2020. Available from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/turmeric.
  2. Javad Sharifi-Rad, Youssef El Rayess, Alain Abi Rizk, et al. Turmeric and Its Major Compound Curcumin on Health: Bioactive Effects and Safety Profiles for Food, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnological and Medicinal Applications. Front Pharmacol. 2020; 11: 01021. Published online 2020 Sep 15. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.01021.
  3. Venugopal P Menon, Adluri Ram Sudheer. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:105-25. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5_3. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17569207/.
  4. Wanwarang Wongcharoen, Arintaya Phrommintikul. The protective role of curcumin in cardiovascular diseases. Int J Cardiol. 2009 Apr 3;133(2):145-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2009.01.073. Epub 2009 Feb 23. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19233493/.
  5. Mhd Anas Tomeh, Roja Hadianamrei, Xiubo Zhao. A Review of Curcumin and Its Derivatives as Anticancer Agents. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Mar; 20(5): 1033. Published online 2019 Feb 27. doi: 10.3390/ijms20051033.
  6. Sahar Rafiee, Mohammad Bagherniya, Gholamreza Askari, et al. The Effect of Curcumin in Improving Lipid Profile in Patients with Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021;1291:165-177. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-56153-6_10. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34331690/
  7. Content shared by Dr. Kavita Sharma, Principal Extension Specialist (Home Science), Krishi Vigyan Kendra Mandi, Sunder Nagar, Himachal Pradesh. Available from: https://www.mofpi.gov.in/pmfme/enewsaugust5.html.
  8. Monitoring Editor: Alexander Muacevic, John R Adler. Iron Deficiency Anemia Due to High-dose Turmeric. Cureus. 2019 Jan; 11(1): e3858.
    Published online 2019 Jan 9. doi: 10.7759/cureus.3858.
  9. Roodabeh Bahramsoltani, Roja Rahimi, Mohammad Hosein Farzaei. Pharmacokinetic interactions of curcuminoids with conventional drugs: A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Sep 14;209:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2017.07.022. Epub 2017 Jul 19. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28734960/.
  10. Subhash C Gautam, Xiaohua Gao, Scott Dulchavsky. Immunomodulation by curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:321-41. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5_14. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17569218/.
  11. Alexandra R Vaughn, Amy Branum, Raja K Sivamani. Effects of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) on Skin Health: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence. Phytother Res. 2016 Aug;30(8):1243-64. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5640. Epub 2016 May 23. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27213821/.
  12. Monika Nagpal, Shaveta Sood. Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jan-Jun; 4(1): 3–7.
    doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.107253. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633300/.

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