11 Science-Based Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin
Turmeric is a spice known for its nutritional benefits.
The effects of turmeric on your body and brain have been extensively studied and are supported by numerous high-quality studies. Scientists have found that curcumin, turmeric's main ingredient, is responsible for many of these benefits.
Read on to discover the incredible tea health benefits of turmeric and curcumin.
What is Turmeric?
A spice with a deep, golden orange hue, turmeric adds color, flavor, and nutrition to foods. It is a relative of ginger derived from a native Asian plant whose rhizome (root) has been used in food preparation since ancient times. It is also used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, as well as Ayurveda.
Many people consider turmeric to be the most potent herbal remedy on earth employed to treat a wide variety of conditions successfully. But does turmeric live up to this hype? Is there any scientific evidence supporting these claims?
The answer is YES!
In numerous high-quality studies, turmeric has been demonstrated to provide significant health benefits for the brain and body. As noted above, the compound responsible for these health benefits is curcumin.
Turmeric and Curcumin
In recent years, scientists have investigated the purported health claims of Tumeric. They have discovered that this herb contains various compounds called curcuminoids, a type of polyphenol with medicinal properties. Scientists have even identified the most potent curcuminoid in Turmeric – curcumin.
Turmeric's primary active ingredient is curcumin. In addition to having powerful anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin is a potent antioxidant.
Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin
Here are the top 11 evidence-based health benefits of turmeric and curcumin.
1. May Reduce Inflammation
The importance of inflammation cannot be overstated. As part of the immune response, your body uses inflammation to defend itself against foreign invaders and to repair the damage that has been done.
It is important to recognize that while short-term inflammation is beneficial, it can become a problem if it turns chronic, attacking your body's tissues.
There is now increasing evidence that chronic low-level inflammation may play a role in certain health conditions and diseases, including (1, 2, 3):
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Hence, anything that can reduce chronic inflammation – including 8th Wonder Oolong Tea with Turmeric – may be beneficial in preventing and treating these and other diseases.
There is no doubt that the topic of inflammation is complex with no simple solutions; however, based on numerous scientific studies, curcumin is a bioactive substance capable of fighting inflammation. Thus, it may be an effective tool in soothing chronic inflammation and reducing the risk or severity of several of society’s most dangerous diseases (4, 5, 6).
However, very high doses of curcumin are required to achieve medicinal effects.
2. May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
The leading cause of death in the world is heart disease (7).
Experts have studied heart disease for decades and have found a wide variety of factors that can lead to its development. Curcumin in turmeric, like that in 8th Wonder Sparkling Oolong Tea with Turmeric, can help moderate many of the most common factors that lead to cardiac disease (8, 9).
For example, endothelial dysfunction is a significant contributor to heart disease, as it occurs when your endothelium is incapable of regulating blood pressure, blood clotting, and various other factors.
The endothelium is made up of a single layer of cells known as endothelial cells that line all of your blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. This includes your arteries, capillaries, and veins.
The heart health benefits of curcumin have been documented in several studies (10, 11).
Studies show that the most significant benefit of curcumin in heart disease is that it can significantly improve endothelium function (12).
In one study, researchers administered either a placebo or 4 grams of curcumin daily to 121 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. A 65% decrease in heart attack risks was observed in the curcumin group (13).
Do you need more proof? Curcumin supplementation has been found to be just as effective as aerobic exercise in improving endothelial function in post-menopausal women (14).
Further, curcumin can assist in reducing inflammation, which contributes to heart disease.
3. May Help Manage Diabetes Symptoms
In 2009, Auburn University researchers explored curcuminoids' potential to lower glucose levels. They found that curcumin in turmeric could activate AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) 400 times more effectively than metformin, a common diabetes medication (15).
According to results obtained from specific cells, tetrahydrocurcumin, a compound produced by the fermentation of curcumin, activated AMPK to a level 100,000 times greater than metformin. Researchers regard AMPK activation as a "therapeutic target" for type 2 diabetes, which means that figuring out how to activate this enzyme will be highly beneficial for developing more effective treatments for reducing insulin resistance and reversing the disease (16).
Curcumin may also help diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage that is a common complication of diabetes. Neuropathy can cause severe symptoms throughout the body and can lead to limb amputation.
A study conducted on rats found that supplementing with curcumin significantly reduced diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain. However, this kind is limited to the feet, legs, arms, and hands (17).
Additionally, diabetic neuropathy often affects the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure. Incredibly, it appears that curcumin may prevent this from occurring.
There is evidence from a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials that curcumin protects diabetic kidneys from damage caused by diabetic nephropathy in animals (18).
4. May Help Prevent and Treat Cancer
Essentially, cancer is the uncontrolled proliferation of cells. Millions of people are affected by various forms of cancer, which has killed millions more. The prevalence of cancer is not expected to decrease. Instead, all signs point to an increased incidence of cancers in the future.
According to the American Cancer Society, “By 2040, the global burden is expected to grow to 27.5 million new cancer cases and 16.3 million cancer deaths simply due to the growth and aging of the population.” (19)
Fortunately, curcumin supplements appear to fight a variety of cancers (20) effectively.
Researchers have studied curcumin as a potential cancer treatment and found that it alters the growth and development of cancer cells (21).
Multiple studies show that curcumin can help trigger cancer cell death, reduce tumor growth, and slow the spread of cancer (22, 23).
There is even scientific evidence that curcumin may prevent cancer. This is especially true of colorectal cancers (24).
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed for both sexes in the United States, excluding skin cancer. It’s also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths (25). The discovery that curcumin may help prevent this type of cancer can bring hope and perhaps increase longevity to millions of people at risk of colorectal cancer.
5. May Help Treat Arthritis Symptoms
Considering curcumin's potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, a study was conducted on 45 rheumatoid arthritis patients, comparing its benefits to those of the arthritis drug diclofenac sodium (an NSAID).
The researchers divided the patients into three groups: curcumin treatment alone, diclofenac sodium alone, and a combination of curcumin and diclofenac sodium.
Surprisingly, the curcumin treatment group showed the highest percentage of improvement in their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms than the other two groups (26).
Subsequent studies have confirmed these results, proving that approximately 1,000 mg per day of curcumin is sufficient to treat the symptoms of joint arthritis (27) effectively.
Drinking 8th Wonder Sparkling Oolong Tea with Turmeric will help you reach this 1,000 mg per day goal.
6. May Help Relieve Depression
Major depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States. It is a leading cause of disability globally and can lead to suicide. Yet, it can be a complex mental disorder to treat effectively.
But there is some evidence that curcumin is capable of treating depression.
A controlled trial was conducted in which 60 people with depression were randomized into three groups. Prozac was administered to one group, curcumin to another group, and Prozac and curcumin were distributed to the third group.
The effects of curcumin after six weeks were comparable to those of Prozac. However, there was a greater improvement in the group that took both Prozac and curcumin (28).
In this small study, curcumin was found to be as effective as an antidepressant.
Another way curcumin may relieve depression is its potential effect on specific neurotransmitters. For example, some studies indicate that curcumin might help increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters associated with mood (29).
7. May Help Prevent or Treat Obesity
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, over 650 million people globally were obese (29a). Obesity is a disease that can lead to a wide variety of health complications, even early death. However, it remains a complex condition to treat effectively.
But curcumin may help.
According to lab results published in the journal Biofactors, curcumin may help reduce fat cell proliferation. How? Research suggests that curcumin may reduce the overall number of fat cells in the body, thus providing an effective method of reducing the accumulation of fat cells (30).
According to the researchers, curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties that effectively suppress the inflammatory processes that contribute to obesity, thus helping to reduce obesity-related adverse health consequences.
8. May Help Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s, the most common dementia, affects an estimated 5.8 million Americans (31).
Although treatments are available for some of its symptoms, Alzheimer's disease is still incurable. Therefore, finding ways to stop its development is crucial, and curcumin may be vital to this process.
Curcumin has positive benefits on both inflammation and oxidative damage, which are known to contribute to Alzheimer's disease (32).
Additionally, a buildup of protein tangles known as amyloid plaques is crucial to Alzheimer's disease. According to studies, curcumin can assist in removing these plaques (33).
There is still much to learn about curcumin's potential to reduce or perhaps stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease in humans.
9. May Help Lower Cholesterol
High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease. But, amazingly, turmeric/curcumin may help.
According to a 2017 meta-analysis, turmeric and curcumin may lower serum lipid levels in patients at risk of cardiovascular disease. These results suggest that, in addition to conventional drugs, curcumin can be used as a well-tolerated dietary supplement (34).
Interestingly, a study published by Drugs in Research and Development found that curcumin was comparable to atorvastatin in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in treating high cholesterol (35).
10. May Help Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders causing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It is a common bowel disease affecting more than 1.6 million Americans (36). Two primary inflammatory bowel diseases are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
IBD can be a complex condition to manage. But there is scientific evidence that turmeric and curcumin may help.
For example, a comprehensive review of all studies that evaluated curcumin's ability to treat ulcerative colitis (UC) uncovered one impressively-designed trial that tested curcumin with mesalazine on UC against a placebo with mesalazine. (Mesalazine is the NSAID commonly prescribed for UC.)
During six months of the study, patients who took only mesalazine and a placebo were over four times more likely to experience a flare-up or relapse of ulcerative colitis, pointing to the possibility that curcumin may contribute to the maintenance of remission of this chronic condition (37).
A small pilot study investigated curcumin supplementation in patients with ulcerative colitis and those with Crohn's disease.
There was a significant improvement in ulcerative colitis patients and four out of five Crohn's patients in the study (38). However, this was a small study, so further research is needed to verify these results. Still…the results suggest that curcumin may be effective for treating symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases.
11. May Help Relieve Pain
The ability of curcumin to manage pain has been widely acknowledged among scientists.
Research has shown that curcumin may help manage the pain associated with arthritis, sciatica, burns, and neuropathy (39, 40, 41, 42).
One research study published in Current Drug Targets journal concluded:
“It is evident that curcumin is one of the promising, safe, and natural polyphenolic molecules that target multiple molecular pathways in pain and can be beneficial in the treatment and management of pain and inflammation.” (43)
Potential Side Effects
Although turmeric is generally considered safe for consumption, it has been shown occasionally to cause allergies, mainly when used topically. This often manifests as an itchy, mild rash (44).
Also, high doses of turmeric (usually in supplement form) may cause adverse effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lowered blood pressure, and increased bleeding risk.
If you notice these or other unusual side effects after taking turmeric, stop using this supplement immediately and contact your healthcare provider for further instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about turmeric.
How Much Tumeric/Curcumin Should I Take?
Studies show that curcumin is safe for consumption in doses of up to six grams per day for four to seven weeks if taken orally (45).
Taking this amount, however, may sometimes result in some adverse effects, such as digestive issues. However, taking 500 milligrams of curcumin twice daily for several months is considered safe for humans.
As dosage instructions vary from product to product, you should always consult your physician if you have additional concerns.
Is it Okay to Take Tumeric/Curcumin Every Day?
Most people will benefit from taking turmeric every day, although it is essential to follow the recommended dosage to avoid the possible side effects.
What is the Best Time of Day to Take Tumeric/Curcumin?
Antioxidant supplements may be most effective when taken at bedtime, according to various studies (46).
Several scientifically proven health benefits are associated with turmeric, especially its most active component, curcumin, such as improving heart health and protecting against Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Additionally, it may help treat depression and arthritis symptoms.
It is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that may effectively relieve many symptoms and treat many conditions.
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