10 Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is native to southern Asia. It is particularly present in the socio-cultural life of the Indian subcontinent, where it is considered as an outstanding plant thanks to its many properties: spice, food preservative, coloring, cosmetic and medicinal agent. Curcumin is the main active ingredient that makes turmeric has so many health benefits.
Discover top 10 health benefits of turmeric.
Although clinical data are insufficient to state that turmeric is beneficial in treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease, research indicates its regular use can help patients. This healthy root has been used in different countries in the treatments for dementia and traumatic brain injury. Scientists believe curcumin may also have properties not only to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease but also treat it. There is not enough clinical data to confirm it, but it also found that curcumin has an antioxidant which has anti-inflammatory and lipophilic action that can improve the cognitive functions in people with Alzheimer.
In vitro and in animals studies indicate that turmeric has protective effects on the gastric mucosa and can destroy or inhibit Helicobacter pylori, the type of bacteria responsible for most gastric and duodenal ulcers. Unfortunately, clinical studies are rare and their results are still inconclusive. However, in one of them, carried out without placebo, the cure rate was 75% with doses of 3 g of turmeric every day for 12 weeks. This is more effective than most dangerous Peptic Ulcer drugs on the market.
Chronic Inflammatory Diseases
In India and China, turmeric has been used for a long time to treat chronic inflammatory disease. In animals and lab tests (vitro assays) done to measure the activity of curcumin in fighting inflammatory diseases it has shown positive results for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and pancreatitis. In humans, the data are still fragmented and must await the results of several clinical trials to get more accurate data of its effectiveness. Meanwhile, people can safely use the root and make their own experience.
Compared to conventional anti-inflammatory drugs, curcumin has been as effective as phenylbutazone, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis when taken at 1 200 mg per day. As to turmeric, in another study, doses of 2 g daily for 6 weeks produced therapeutic effects comparable to ibuprofen (800 mg daily) on people with osteoarthritis. Good results were also obtained with curcumin (200 mg daily for 8 months) coupled with phosphatidylcholine (Meriva®) to improve its absorption by the body.
For decades standardized extract of turmeric has been successfully used in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. The two tested doses, equivalent to 72 mg and 144 mg of curcumin per day, helped to reduce symptoms and improve patient comfort. In another study with patients with ulcerative colitis, curcumin at 1 g, 2 times a day, in combination with mesalamine or sulfasalazine, limited the number of acute attacks of the disease during the 6 months of the treatment. Clinical manifestations were also reduced considerably. These results confirm those obtained in a preliminary trial which also showed the therapeutic effects of curcumin on Crohn’s disease.
In 2011, a review has analyzed the health benefits of turmeric, at 360 mg, 2 to 3 times daily, for 3 days, on patients with inflammatory bowel disease. It was used in combination with conventional inflammatory bowel disease treatments. It appears that turmeric-standard treatment combination significantly reduced the symptoms and markers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein, a substance produced by the liver in response to inflammation. However, the health benefits of turmeric alone are not known in this case and the limited number of participants makes it impossible to draw definitive conclusions.
Among other turmeric health benefits include its property to prevent cardiovascular disease. Several published studies show cardioprotective properties of this health root. For instance, a recent study published in the American Journal of Cardiology has demonstrated turmeric extract may reduce post-bypass heart attack risk by up to 56%. It was also found in 2012 that curcumin improves vascular function in postmenopausal women.
One study has been conducted in Japan to evaluate if physical exercise, combined with turmeric consumption, can improve cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women with abnormal left ventricle. The results indicate that the combined the spice with physical exercise indeed significantly reduced the body weight of the participants, body mass index and aortic blood pressure.
Many studies reported a possible preventive effect of turmeric in the development of diabetes. In one study, participants were divided into two groups: one received a placebo while the second took three capsules of turmeric daily (750 mg), twice daily for 9 months. Turmeric extract contains between 75 and 85% of phenolic curcumoides. After nine months of treatment, 16% of participants in the placebo group developed diabetes, while none of those treated with the plant showed this pathology. In addition, individuals treated with turmeric saw their decreased weight and waist circumference and fasting plasma glucose.
A second study evaluated the effects of curcumin, at 22 mg, 3 times daily for 2 months, in diabetic patients with nephropathy (n = 40), some had renal failure at an advanced stage. Compared to placebo, patients had a decrease in the excretion of urinary protein and decreased levels of IL-8 (a molecule reflecting infection) and TGF-β (a growth factor abnormally expressed in diabetes with nephropathy).
Hypercholesterolemia (High blood cholesterol)
Animal studies to evaluate turmeric health benefits suggest that it reduces the levels of cholesterol, especially the bad cholesterol, commonly known as LDL. Two other studies suggest that curcumin lowers triglyceride levels in obese patients at risk for coronary heart disease, as well as total cholesterol in healthy subjects. In the latter study, the dose used was 500 mg per day for a week.
the World Health Organization recognize the effectiveness of turmeric rhizomes in treating digestive problems, such as stomach upset, nausea, loss of appetite. During a clinical trial, the root, at 250 mg, 4 times daily, was significantly more effective than placebo in relieving digestive problems of the participants.
Turmeric is also used to improve biliary functions, which are often a cause of indigestion (dyspepsia). A preparation of celandine and turmeric has been used with some success on people with abdominal pain in the liver area. The low methodological quality of the trial and the fact that celandine is also a plant that stimulates gallbladder make these results difficult to interpret.
Turmeric health benefits also include fighting cancer. The plant has been widespread in south-east Asia since ancient times. But in recent decades it is also the subject of numerous scientific studies worldwide where scientists are constantly looking to better understand its nutritional and medical properties. Some of those studies have found turmeric has amazing cancer fighting potentiality. It can be used not only to prevent the formation of malignant tumors but also to combat reproduction and proliferation of cancerous cells.
Turmeric Cancer Prevention Properties
The potential of Curcuma longa in preventing cancers has been studied since 1985. The results of in vitro and in vivo experiments in mice showed a reduction of tumor development with the use turmeric extract and its active component, curcumin. It was also found that the extracts can inhibit cancer cell invasion and metastasis through activation of the tumor suppressor DnaJ-like heat shock protein 40.
Ever since, many other studies have been conducted on the inhibitory effects of turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin on the development of many cancers: colon, liver, lung, ovary, breast, leukemia, prostate, stomach, and pancreas. All these studies also suggest that curcumin has strong potential as an adjuvant chemotherapy agent.
According to epidemiological data, the prevalence of several cancers, including colon, breast, prostate and lung, was lower in Asian countries where people eat a lot of turmeric. In addition, numerous studies on animals exposed to cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) demonstrate that curcumin could prevent many cancers: lung, colon, stomach, liver, skin, breast, esophagus, lymphoma and leukemia.
Turmeric and Colorectal Cancer
Other researches on turmeric and cancer prevention have identified it as an effective chemopreventive agent for colorectal cancer in rodents. The first findings of these studies have led some agencies, including the American Cancer Society, to advocate the use of this powerful spice against many cancers, including colorectal Cancer.
Another study suggests the number and size of intestinal polyps of people with familial polyposis decreased under the effect of curcumin (480 mg, 3 times a day) associated with quercetin (20 mg).
Turmeric and Breast Cancer
When it comes to turmeric and breast cancer, research is very active and the results of several clinical trials are expected. But previous studies showed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory curcumin may play a role in preventing and treating breast tumors. In vitro studies already indicate that curcumin inhibits the proliferation of cancerous cells by acting at various times in their development by promoting the production of enzymes that help the body get rid of tumoral cells.
But as for today, there are very few studies conducted on turmeric and breast cancer prevention, which makes it very difficult to reach a conventional conclusion. Clinically, data is still scarce. They were obtained with groups of no more than 25 people in the best case. Nevertheless, the results are promising. They suggest that consumption of this powerful could be associated with reduced risk of breast cancer (and others) in smokers. In people at risk, doses of 1 g to 8 g of curcumin per day for 3 months managed to regress some precancerous lesions.
Turmeric and Cancer Treatment
The anti-cancer properties of curcumin are taken very seriously by medical scientists. As of today, several clinical trials are underway, with new results come out every now and then. Although these results are very few, they are encouraging and promising. For instance, a recent one has shown curcumin (8 g daily), used alone or in combination with chemotherapy, resulted in some cases to stabilize the development of pancreatic cancer. This effect was also observed in patients suffering from colorectal cancer.
These preliminary studies have confirmed, however, studies with animals revealed the bioavailability of curcumin is very low. It is poorly absorbed from the intestines and the fraction absorbed is quickly converted and eliminated by the liver. The amounts that have proven effective in vitro experiments are difficult to achieve in the body. This is one reason why clinical trials using doses so important and focus on cancers of the digestive tract where the amount of curcumin remain high.
Turmeric can also be used as an adjuvant to conventional cancer treatments. Many results obtained in vitro or in vivo in animals indicate that the curcumin increases the therapeutic effects of radiation and chemotherapy by rendering cancer cells more sensitive to these treatments. It could also reduce their side effects.