Turmeric: What Is It, Benefits, Uses & Side Effects

Clinical review: Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
November 2022

Turmeric, also known as curcuma, is a type of flowering plant with roots that contain medicinal properties. These roots are usually ground up into a powder, which is commonly used to season meat or vegetables, especially in India and eastern countries. 

As well as having great antioxidant potential, turmeric can also be used as a natural remedy to relieve gastrointestinal disorders, fever, colds, and even to lower high cholesterol levels.  

Turmeric is a plant measuring around 60 cm and it has long, shiny leaves and long orange roots. Scientifically known as Curcuma longa, it can be found in some natural health stores, pharmacies, and grocery stores.

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Health benefits

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and digestive-aiding compounds. Therefore it has many health benefits such has:

  1. Improving digestion;
  2. Promoting weight loss;
  3. Fighting colds and flu;
  4. Preventing asthma attacks;
  5. Detoxing the liver;
  6. Regulating gastrointestinal microbiota;
  7. Managing cholesterol levels;
  8. Stimulating the immune system;
  9. Relieving skin inflammations, such as eczema, acne or psoriasis;
  10. Improving the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. 

Additionally, turmeric can also help to inhibit the formation of blood clots and even contributes to relieving premenstrual cramps.

The main active ingredient responsible for turmeric’s therapeutic effect is curcumin. It is also being studied as a treatment (in the form of gel or ointment) for skin lesions, such as burns, as it has shown great results in the scientific research.

Because of its anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, turmeric is often recommended as a complementary treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis. It can also be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis and blood pressure regulation. 

How to use turmeric

The most common way of buying turmeric is as a ground-up powder made from the plant’s roots. This powder can be used to season food, however, there are also turmeric capsules available for purchase. Alternatively, leaves from the turmeric plant can also be used for making turmeric tea. 

  • Turmeric powder: Place 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in 150 ml of boiling water and let it infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Then allow it cool down, and drink up to 3 cups a day, in between meals;
  • Turmeric capsules: generally the recommended dosage is two 250mg capsules every 12 hours, adding to a total of 1 gram per day. However, dosage may vary depending on the underlying need for treatment ;
  • Turmeric gel: Mix a tablespoon of aloe vera with ground turmeric and apply on skin inflammations such as psoriasis.

Possible side effects

Side effects like stomach irritation and nausea can occur after excessive intake of turmeric. 

Who should avoid consuming turmeric

Even though it has several health benefits, turmeric is not advised for patients who are taking anticoagulants or patients who have bile duct obstruction due to gall stones. Additionally, turmeric should only be taken under doctor supervision during pregnancy or lactation. 

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in November 2022. Clinical review completed by Tatiana Zanin - Registered Dietitian in November 2022.

References

  • QIN Sin et al. Efficacy and safety of turmeric and curcumin in lowering blood lipid levels in patients with cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition Journal. 16. 1-10, 2017
  • SU-KYUNG Shin et al. Long-term Curcumin Administration Protects Against Atherosclerosis via Hepatic Regulation of Lipoprotein Cholesterol Metabolism. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research . 55. 12; 1820-1840, 2011
Show more references
  • SANTOS Jessica; STRAHLER Talia et al. Curcumin supplementation improves vascular endothelial function in healthy middle-aged and older adults by increasing nitric oxide bioavailability and reducing oxidative stress. AGING. 9. 1; 187-205, 2017
  • ZHANG Dong-wei; DU Min et al. Curcumin and Diabetes: A Systematic Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 1-12, 2013
  • LYFE BOTANICALS. 10 Health Benefits and Uses for Turmeric Curcumin Supplements. Available on: <https://lyfebotanicals.com/health/turmeric-benefits/>. Access in 14 Nov 2019
Clinical review:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal