Turmeric Health Benefits Backed By Science
It seems like a new miracle remedy comes into the spotlight every other week, from Acai berries to coffee, Brazil nuts, or even some name-brand supplement that just got their marketing budget approved.
Whatever it is, it’s not likely to stay in the spotlight for long; especially not with the internet constantly showcasing something new.
One supplement has managed to stay on people’s radar for a long time.
Several hundred years, in fact:
Turmeric, and it’s active compound curcumin.
Now, the internet is only a few decades old, but before the internet was even dreamed of, this little root was being traded widely throughout Eastern countries, beginning in Southeast Asia and India.
Known for its distinctive yellow color and spicy taste, this root is more than a simple culinary spice.
This unassuming root has an important secret: it’s incredibly healthy for you.
Without fail, every culture that has used Turmeric in their daily diet have seen an overall improvement in the health of their people and boast an overall lack of disease and ailment.
Medicine men of India and Asia claimed that Turmeric was the Spice of Life – a Miracle Root – but it certainly doesn’t look like it.
Their talks of Turmeric’s joint pain relief heart health benefits, cognitive benefits, immune system benefits, and other amazing claims have not been ignored by Western scientists, either.
Turmeric has been studied extensively on numerous topics.
It has been shown to provide superior arthritis pain relief, reduce inflammation, and reduce the number of heavy metals absorbed by the brain, and provide anti-cancer and neuroprotective qualities.
That’s quite a tall order for one little root to live up to.
It’s time to stop thinking of turmeric as simply a delicious ingredient in curry.
According to hundreds of peer-reviewed medical studies, this golden spice provides a myriad of surprising health benefits; and yes, more than the few we just mentioned.
It has also been shown to be as – or more - effective as some pharmaceutical drugs without all the nasty side effects.
But, don’t worry – we’ll get to all of that.
If you want to learn more about Turmeric, from common uses to the history of turmeric and much more, visit our World of Turmeric page where you can find in-depth information on this amazing little root.
In this definitive guide to Turmeric health benefits, you’ll learn the answer to what turmeric can help the body achieve and heal from.
By the time you finish reading this article from Me First Living, you’ll be ready to make your own choice about whether turmeric is the natural health supplement you’ve been looking for, or if it’s just another over-marketed, unremarkable, holistic remedy that promises the moon and the stars.
Hint: it really does have scientifically proven results!
A Breakdown of Terms
First, we’ll give you a little breakdown of terms we’ll be using throughout this article.
Turmeric – This is the main spice in curry. It is an unassuming little root from the Ginger (Zingiberaceae) family. It is known as one of the most powerful herbs on the earth. It has shown incredible potential in its healing properties and has been the subject of countless published articles explaining how it can aid in fighting disease in humans.
Curcumin – Curcumin is a part of a group of curcuminoids found within the root, but curcumin itself is responsible for the health benefits many people experience. Typically, there is 2-5% curcuminoids in the root, which makes it important to choose a standardized curcumin extract over turmeric root powder.
Black Pepper – Our bodies can’t absorb curcumin very well, which is where these spicy little kernels come into play. Black pepper is a powerful antioxidant and provides several complementary health benefits when added to curcumin.
Piperine – Black pepper owes all its benefits to this compound, which is its active ingredient. This compound enhances how well your body absorbs curcumin by 2000%. It is typically added in the form of Bioperine® to Me First Living’s Premium Turmeric Curcumin Supplement.
What Turmeric To Look For
Before we jump into the benefits of turmeric, we want to talk about the elephant in the room.
It can be tough to choose what products will really help you, and which will fall short. A lot of companies out there are willing to sacrifice your health to get your money.
Many companies who promise to sell you the real deal either cut their supplements, don’t tell you the whole truth about their product, or even sell you proprietary blends thinking they can get away with their sneaky ways of making an extra few dollars off your misinformation – and the scary part is: they can, and are.
You see people purchase proprietary blends every day. I guarantee if you hang out around the supplement aisle of your local grocer for a day, you’ll see the shelves full of proprietary blends get picked over and need restocking by the time the store closes.
There’s rarely any argument: the best way to decide for yourself is to look at the facts yourself.
But what is a proprietary blend?
It’s easy to find if you know what to look for.
In short, a proprietary blend is a combination of a few supplements and filler products like cellulose and root powder. It typically contains very little of the supplement you are trying to buy in the first place.
When you’re looking for curcumin and black pepper extract, make sure your retailer or manufacturer has a Certificate of Analysis (COA.) This COA is the official certificate provided to manufacturers with a quality product, lab tested and scientifically certified.
With each batch the manufacturer produces of any product, they are required to send three to four bottles of each batch to a lab for independent scientific testing, where the batch is then either approved and certified or rejected and sent back to the manufacturer.
This is the best way to ensure you are purchasing a quality product that is 100% truthful about its labeling.
Not sure about which turmeric brand to purchase? We’ve put together a Turmeric Buyer’s Guide to help you see the difference between turmeric supplements.
Top Ten Benefits of Turmeric Curcumin Extract
Since Turmeric has gone mainstream in the Western world, research has confirmed the many benefits of turmeric.
Extracts of the bright orange powder have exhibited antifungal, antibacterial, and even anticarcinogenic properties, just to name a few.
In today’s world, however, it can be hard to find what you’re looking for. There’s so much information out there that it’s tough to sift through what’s right and what’s not, or perhaps you simply don’t have the time to spend browsing the internet for the next big miracle remedy.
Let’s face facts.
Not all of us are happy with our pain medication, or able to cope with the rising cost of prescription medication. You may have tried other remedies to combat your ailments, but sometimes they just don’t work.
If you’re looking for a new health supplement – one that actually works – or you’re in the market for an alternative treatment for your arthritis and joint pain, you may be surprised to know the benefits of turmeric have been proven and backed by science.
Now, we’ve briefly discussed the differences between Turmeric and Curcumin. We’ve talked about avoiding proprietary blends.
So, without further delay, let’s dive into the juicy parts:
What can you expect by adding curcumin to your daily regimen?
What are the biggest benefits of a curcumin supplement?
- Turmeric's Anti-Inflammatory Properties Reduces Pain and Disease
Whether you’re suffering from osteoarthritis or mild to moderate joint pain, people who use turmeric have shown huge success in combating their chronic pain. In fact, there are many benefits turmeric can have on your health.
Inflammation is beneficial to the body. Inflammation is the main defense your body has against invading bacteria, illnesses, and viruses.
Unfortunately, out of control inflammation is also one of the main causes of ailments, especially in the Western world, causing excruciating, long-lasting pain and discomfort.
This is a real issue for many Americans, particularly in cases of joint pain or arthritis. These conditions are often brought on by injuries that have been aggravated by movement over a number of years.
Sometimes, symptoms can onset in as little as a few weeks from the injury. Luckily, Curcumin extract has been shown to reduce inflammation as much as prescription drugs without the harmful side effects of many pain medications.
If you experience inflammation-based health conditions, turmeric can potentially help by decreasing swelling at the molecular level by inhibiting their activity. Just consider next time you reach for that Tylenol bottle that you could be taking a natural, healthier supplement!
Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis patients can profit from turmeric as well. Recent research shows that curcumin’s benefits might outweigh those of Diclofenac sodium, one of the leading drugs prescribed for the ailment.
Pretty amazing, right?
A study published in the 2006 issue of American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products provided proof that curcumin extract can help treat or prevent rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.
But, curcumin’s ability to treat inflammation doesn’t stop at joint pain.
In fact, the International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology has studied turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, shown to ease Arthritis pains for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Patients who suffer from joint pain and joint inflammation experience high levels of relief when they used a Turmeric supplement regularly.
Many medical professionals now believe that chronic inflammation plays a primary role in practically every known Western disease. Many diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and others are largely affected by inflammation in the body. This makes a compelling case for curcumin becoming a part of our daily regimen.
The relief seen from anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin can easily be compared to many prescription drugs and NSAIDs like Aspirin or Ibuprofen in its effectiveness, decreasing low-level inflammation. It is so effective because it targets points where inflammation enters the body, from the cause to the action, and even repairing inflammation that is already present.
- Antioxidant Benefits of Turmeric Boost Your Immune System, Reducing Signs of Aging
Curcumin and Turmeric have both commonly been used to stimulate and strengthen the immune system.
What does that mean, though?
The antioxidant benefits of turmeric extract won’t only help prevent you from catching a cold, but it will also help you recover if you do catch one. Lots of people report shortened colds by taking a curcumin extract or drinking a daily glass of warm milk with their curcumin powder mixed in.
The active component of turmeric – curcumin – is responsible for its antiviral, antioxidant and antifungal properties.
Antioxidants are vital in protecting and combating against disease and medical ailments. The reason they are so beneficial is because they protect the body from dangerous free radicals. Free radicals impact your health by creating oxidative damage, the real cause of aging, and many serious ailments and diseases.
Curcumin can help fight against and neutralize free radicals thanks to its chemical structure, binding to the free radicals and helping prevent oxidative damage. It can also increase the body’s own natural antioxidant enzymes, helping your body help reduce the potential of free radicals itself.
Want to slow down the effects of aging? Curcumin may be the answer.
Now, aging is inevitable. Science is nowhere near finding immortality. What isn’t inevitable, however, is how early you show signs of aging and controlling how well you age.
Studies on curcumin extract have shown evidence that, by fighting free radicals and repairing oxidative stress, curcumin helps prevent and repair signs of premature aging and age-related cell trauma.
Thanks to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, it also helps with skin irritations, redness, and tightening wrinkles. It is also an anti-bacterial, so it can help with acne and other forms of skin blemishes.
Most of us have had a tough time with acne and other skin blemishes when we were teenagers, and for some of us, that issue never stopped. Whether you suffer from blotchiness, dryness, rosacea, acne, or another dermatological condition, chances are, you’ve tried just about every medication and cream available over the counter.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body, so it’s no wonder it’s so hard to treat.
Thankfully, however, there’s a potential solution.
One study recently covered turmeric’s effect on skin health. It has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of these conditions. Unfortunately, topical applications are among the least studied methods of relief when it comes to turmeric and curcumin. These studies are still in the preliminary stages but are likely to advance in just a few years.
Premature aging is a sign that you’ve experienced far too much chronic stress or trauma, caused by an excess of free radicals which triggers oxidative stress – which causes the signs of aging. Oxidative stress can also be triggered by poor nutrition and improper diet over the years, which is common in today’s culture.
- Reduce Your Risk for Alzheimer’s and Cognitive Decline
Curcumin has been shown to improve brain function by helping form connections between your neurons. This may improve your memory and decreases your risk of developing brain disease. It can even help protect against Alzheimer’s.
A lot of things can bring on cognitive decline, whether it’s consistently high levels of stress, aging, trauma or lack of mental exercise.
Luckily, daily intake of curcumin extract has been shown to help improve your brain power, raising levels of cognitive thinking and reducing your risk of further cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia in the future.
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has shown that turmeric can help those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, but long-term use has been seen to begin repairing brain connections in lab mice.
Alzheimer’s, a type of dementia, is a horrible disease that affects the lives of millions around the globe. It’s the most common neurodegenerative disease in America, and there is no known cure. This is why it’s important to work on preventative measures with natural remedies that can stifle the effects of the disease.
Most common brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and clinical depression have been linked to a deficiency in a certain type of growth hormone known as BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor.)
Curcumin has the ability to increase brain levels of BDNF, assisting in brain function, boosting the production of new neurons, and combats retrogressive processes in the brain.
It’s been proven that inflammation and oxidative damage also play a significant role in Alzheimer’s. This makes turmeric a great preventative supplement.
A study on Alzheimer’s shows that curcumin has the potential to help decrease the effects of Alzheimer’s by decreasing the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain, clearing protein tangles and removing buildup.
Protecting the brain from Alzheimer’s is important considering the disease can show up in the brain two decades before it ever begins showing symptoms.
In truth, we know very little about neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, though we are beginning to understand more as time goes on. One thing that scientists have uncovered is that preliminary research on the benefits of curcumin on patients with Alzheimer’s is showing positive results so far.
One tough obstacle that scientists have to overcome when studying the disease is that not many supplements can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Curcumin extract – you guessed it – can do just that.
- Turmeric Fights Depression and Boosts Your Mood
Today, there is one major problem evident in our society.
Too many people are stressed and depressed.
The rates of individuals who consider themselves depressed are higher today than they were 20 years ago, and the age range of these individuals is broadening as well. Now, we’re not here to argue statistics or possible reasons why this is happening, but to discuss a possible remedy.
Depression is currently being diagnosed at an unprecedented rate and the pharmaceutical industry has benefited greatly from the creation of drugs that, in many cases, work only temporarily.
Curcumin has shown incredible promise in the treatment of turmeric for depression when placed in the random trials against the leading anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac. After the trials ended, it was shown that patients that had taken curcumin, and others who had taken Prozac had similar effects and improvements.
A deficiency of the hormone BDNF is often a cause of depression, and curcumin has been shown to increase these levels. One study has proven this and also shown that curcumin has the capacity to increase and boost neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin and dopamine.
Overall, curcumin extract has been proven to alleviate stress levels by regulating and balancing our hormones. It makes sense since high stress levels can aggravate depression, anxiety, and other health conditions.
Scientists found that not only is curcumin effective, but it can potentially be used as a replacement for many medications like Prozac, giving the patient all the benefits without the awful side effects.
- Helps Maintain Mental Clarity and Reduces Brain Fog
Let’s face it.
No one likes the experience of brain fog, whether it’s just been a long day, or you can’t seem to get out of the mental fuzz.
The answers come to you slower, it’s harder to think on your feet, and you can feel the wheels turning but not all of them have been properly greased.
This is a frustrating example of temporary mental decline.
A lot of things can cause this decline in mental function temporarily, whether it’s high levels of stress, trauma, or even medications.
There is hope for the foggy path, however.
Curcumin has been shown to improve your cognitive function and reduce your risk of future cognitive decline when taken on a regular basis.
The memory benefits of turmeric. Studies suggest only 1 gram of curcumin extract a day may be enough to enhance working memory over time, according to a study published in a 2014 issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Working memory is essential for problem-solving, logic, and planning. Measurement of working memory can calculate an individual’s predisposition to dementia and cognitive impairment. Researchers recommend taking one gram of turmeric every day during breakfast.
- Helps Reduce the Risk of (and Potentially Treat) Cancer Growth
Cancer is a terrible disease that has been studied with extreme depth by the world's most competent physicians.
Science has a grand discovery in the making, and all it needs is to pass extended clinical trials.
There have been multiple studies on curcumin’s potential anti-carcinogenic benefits. The current verdict is that curcumin can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, lower the risk of these cells mutating, and even potentially fight and reduce the number of mutated cells already present in your body.
In other words, curcumin can potentially help reduce your risk of cancer.
Not only has turmeric been shown to prevent and stop existing growth of cancer cells but it has even destroyed cancer cells in some subjects. Curcumin, the active compound in Turmeric is an excellent preventative when it comes to radiation-induced tumors.
Some studies have shown it to have a preventative effect against leukemia, colon cancer, and breast cancer cells as well.
Curcumin has been shown to be able to stop the growth of melanoma cells and kill tumor cells. That is according to the results of a study that appears in a 2005 issue of CANCER, a journal published by the American Cancer Society.
A 2009 study discussed how to kill tumor cells selectively with turmeric, and the development of HPV-induced oral and cervical cancers have been inhibited by curcumin.
The powerful anti-inflammatory quality of curcumin can be leveraged to stop metastatic tumor growth like those associated with malignant prostate and breast cancers. In a 2012 issue of the journal Carcinogenesis, a breakthrough study describes how curcumin can also safely supplement chemoprevention protocols.
Curcumin has been shown to be most effective when used before the full-blown tumor stage, or for people who have a high risk of developing tumors.
Results of a study published in the 2017 issue of the journal Precision Oncology supports turmeric's potential medicinal application for fighting prostate cancer. The ursolic acid in apple peels can be combined with curcumin to stop cancer cells from absorbing glutamine, a compound prostate cancer cells need to grow.
Remember to consult with your doctor before beginning taking a curcumin supplement. It's also not advised to abruptly discontinue any medications in favor of curcumin.
As cancer is not a disease to be taken lightly, we encourage you to read the clinical studies online to form a fuller picture of their benefits and discuss your options with your doctor.
- Reduces Your Risk of Heart Attacks and Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease and other cardiovascular troubles are a very real threat, especially if you’re at high risk or maintain a stressful lifestyle with poor nutrition. Heart disease is the number one health concern for Americans and one of the biggest causes of death on the planet.
Heart disease becomes a very real issue as you age, especially if you have a genetic predisposition to heart disease or other risk factors.
Luckily, however, curcumin extract has been shown to have cardiovascular protective qualities, meaning it will help your heart, and surrounding organs and tissue, stay resilient to damage.
Curcumin’s benefits for cardiovascular disease reaches far and wide. Those who regularly consume turmeric have a lower risk of developing heart disease than those who don’t. This may be thanks to curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. It’s still important to take action, keeping your heart in good health.
For example, one study from the Nutritional Research Journal took two groups of postmenopausal women and studied their heart health before and after aerobic exercises.
One group took Curcumin extract and the other didn't. The study concluded that the group of women who took the Curcumin extract had significantly stronger outlying organ tissues (including around the heart) than those who didn't.
It was concluded that Curcumin extract in combination with aerobic exercise can help improve age-related decline in the endothelium, which is a thin layer of tissue that surrounds many of your organs, including your heart.
Endothelial dysfunction – dysfunction of the heart’s blood vessel linings - is one of the main causes of heart disease. What happens is your endothelium, the lining protecting your heart’s blood vessels, fails to control and regular blood pressure and clotting. Several studies have shown that curcumin leads to improvements in the function of endothelium and can be as effective as certain well-known pharmaceuticals that were designed to expressly combat Endothelial dysfunction.
- Helps Control Diabetes and Blood Sugar
The diabetes benefits of turmeric are not widely known to the public, but are incredibly beneficial.
Many studies have concluded that curcumin extract is very effective in controlling Type II diabetes, particularly by helping your body moderate and absorb the levels of insulin present. Curcumin has been shown to not only aid in glucose control, but also increase the effectiveness of many diabetes medications.
In other words, turmeric has been proven to lower blood sugar levels and reverse insulin resistance.
For example; a study from the Auburn University concluded that curcumin suppresses glucose formulation in the liver. It also proved to be around four hundred times more potent than diabetes drug Metformin.
Curcumin is also incredibly beneficial for individuals with Type 1 diabetes, improving metabolic function and reducing plaque build-up in the arteries.
- Antiseptic Properties Expedite Wound Healing
Curcumin has the incredible power to help expedite wound healing. It seems like an amazing feat, but when you get to the science of it all, it starts to make sense.
Some of us seem to heal quicker than others, but there are always ways to speed up the process. Curcumin has natural antiseptic properties that help your skin’s collagen content find and repair broken tissue. This helps your skin form strong bonds between the new and old skin, and overall, helps keep it in place while the wound contracts.
Compared to ingesting curcumin tablets, topical applications of curcumin gel or paste is more useful for treating burns, scalds, and promoting wound healing, according to research by Dr. Madalene Heng of the David Greffen School of Medicine. The results of her study can be found in the 2017 issue of BioDiscovery.
Curcumin also contains antibacterial properties that can help keep your wound clear of many different forms of bacteria. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean your wound – after all, modern medical practices are medical practices for a reason. What it does mean, however, is that curcumin can potentially help your skin heal at a faster rate.
- Provides Relief from Heartburn, Indigestion, GERD, and Crohn’s Disease
Turmeric provides relief for those who suffer from indigestion or heartburn, and there are even preclinical studies showing turmeric can benefit people who suffer from GERD or Crohn’s disease.
For regular digestive issues, it is suggested to take a teaspoon of turmeric mixed in a warm glass of milk, just like you would if you were combating the flu.
For more severe cases, we recommend taking a quality curcumin and piperine extract.
- Turmeric Boosts Your Metabolism to Aid in Fat Burning
Another benefit of turmeric is that it boosts metabolism naturally. A fast metabolic rate leads to more calories burned, which can facilitate weight loss.
When you’re trying to shed a few pounds, curcumin helps by lowering cholesterol levels, detoxifying the liver, and decreasing inflammation levels. After all, a body that isn’t fighting half-a-dozen internal battles is far more likely to lose weight.
Dietary curcumin may also help in successfully managing weight by stopping fat tissue from spreading, according to the results of an animal study funded by the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
This promising weight-loss potential of curcumin is made possible by its ability to inhibit something called angiogenesis, the process of new blood vessel formation that is crucial to fat tissue buildup.
Overall, we are still discovering turmeric benefits and we will be for years.
India had the right idea to declare it a medicine decades ago. These highlights only begin to cover what’s possible with this amazing spice.
Keep in mind that some people may be allergic to Turmeric, especially if they’ve shown to be allergic in the past to ginger or other members of the Ginger (Zingiberaceae) family.
As always, it's important to consult your doctor before you try taking Turmeric in addition to, or in place of any medication. Turmeric and other herbal supplements can still cause interactions with several prescription and non-prescription drugs alike.
Want to learn more about this humble root? Visit our World of Turmeric today!