Can turmeric improve your health?

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When it comes to the medical benefits of herbs and spices, few, if any, have attracted as much attention as turmeric.

Thousands of articles have been published in recent years discussing turmeric’s purported benefits. And the research goes on.

The Arthritis Foundation in the US says recent studies have shown turmeric can prevent joint inflammation but is less likely to reduce joint inflammation. That may seem a subtle difference, but in medical issues, timing can be everything.

But before investigating whether to take turmeric now or later, let’s look at its long and distinguished history.

Turmeric’s medical benefits were first recorded nearly 4000 years ago in south-east Asia where it was being used in cooking and in religious ceremonies – largely because of its vibrant yellow colour.

Related to the ginger family, it grows to a metre tall and has long, oblong leaves. The rhizomes under the soil can be used fresh or dried to produce a yellow powder. The leaves are commonly used in some cultures to wrap and cook fish. And turmeric tea and coffee are common drinks.

The active compound in turmeric is curcumin, which makes up between two and six per cent of turmeric.

Curcumin, and turmeric for that matter, in heavy dosages need to be closely monitored. People on blood-thinning tablets may experience stomach issues, while pregnant women or patients about to undergo surgery should avoid it, health professionals says.

So what do we know about turmeric’s benefits?

Healthline says turmeric may well be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence and cites 10 evidence-based benefits. These include:

  • powerful anti-inflammatory effects
  •  a strong antioxidant
  • linked to improved brain function
  • lowers the risk of heart disease
  • helps prevent, and even treat, cancer
  • useful in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease
  • helps reduce pain from arthritis
  • can help fight depression
  • helps fight age-related conditions
  • reduces blood pressure.

According to, an experiment involving rats showed that curcumin can ease joint swelling from rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers gave rats turmeric extracts before and after inducing rheumatoid arthritis in the animals. Some extracts contained only curcuminoids, the family of chemicals that include curcumin, while other extracts contained curcuminoids and other compounds.

The study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Natural Products, found that pure curcuminoid extracts were more effective in treating rheumatoid-arthritis symptoms, and that curcuminoids worked better in preventing new joint swelling than in treating existing swelling.

Recommended daily dosages range between 500 to 1000 milligrams of curcuminoids. If you’re restricting yourself to turmeric tablets, and not curcumin supplements, then simply follow the directions on the bottle or discuss with a health professional.

In cooking, fresh or powdered turmeric can be added to all good curries, while turmeric powder can also be added to smoothies, but the warning with all of this is that very little extensive research has been conducted on the long-term effects.

Do you take turmeric or curcumin supplements? For what reason?

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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Total Comments: 11
  1. 0

    Never been proven to work in humans, just rats.

  2. 0

    Never been proven to work in humans, just rats.

  3. 0

    an american university study has found bangladesh factories that produce turmeric powder mix lead with it to enhance the colour

  4. 0

    I fell for the blurb and bought ‘Tumeric-Curcumin with BioPerine’ capsules. After taking about 3o capsules so far, I’ve not noticed any value whatever. I will finish the package of 60 to see if they do help.

    • 0

      It also depends on the strength – I believe at least 600mg (equivalent) of curcuminoids taken twice a day would be reasonable, e.g. the Blooms product. Captain has made some typical & sensible comments below based on long experience. But then again there should be a proper study for it, as the benefits mentioned in Healthline have been known for a while now, but obviously no drug companies are seriously funding research since it may drive a lot of other more profitable alternatives out of the market. Also, while there are several unnecessarily negative comments here, the results simply could vary for individuals. I would be more positive to it given the range of benefits mentioned on Healthline.

  5. 0

    I’ve been told not to take turmeric like this if you have gall stones – and most of us do – so best left alone.

  6. 0

    I have been taking a turmeric and black pepper tablet every day for some years now. I am 61 and have slightly dodgy knees with not much cartilage left. I think it has improved things slightly though having said that they are getting bad again, maybe just deteriorating now.

    • 0

      I have been taking a small spoonful of tumeric for several years. I have had rheumatoid arthritis In my fingers since I was about 16 and osteoarthritis in my toes (broken bones from cross country running accidents). I thought that the tumeric eased the pain especially in my fingers.

      However we were recently on holidays overseas and I did not take my daily dose of tumeric for 7 weeks and the pain in my fingers and toes increased. Since we have been back and into our usual routine (including taking my daily dose), the pain seems to have decreased again.

      I suppose the tumeric has effects on some and maybe not on others.

  7. 0

    Tried it in various doses over a lengthy period of time made absolutely no difference and made me a bit nauseated. Tried other things including green lipped muscle extract, all to no effect. Cartilage described on MRI as “macerated with multiple full thickness tears”. The only things that has helped (and helped a great deal) is what my orthopaedic surgeon said would work in the first place…. durolane injections into the joint. This is a mixture of anti-inflammatory cotrico-steroids and Hyalauronic acid (important component of cartilage.) Works a treat, then fades after 6 months , then time to have it again. Not cheap though about $500 per injection, but better than undergoing knee replacement.

  8. 0

    What about the latest news that powdered tumeric is laced with some sort of lead to enhance the yellow colouring in some tumeric-producing countries?

  9. 0

    Exercise works



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