Your Health

May 7, 2019

Turmeric Curcumin: Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage

Turmeric is a spice that is known and used for diverse purposes around the world. It is commonly known as Indian saffron and golden spice. This spice is gotten from the turmeric plant (curcuma longa). The turmeric plant is mostly grown and can be found in Southeast Asia and central America. The common bright yellow turmeric powder is made from the ground roots of curcuma longa. Processed turmeric powder contains variety of naturally-occurring chemicals like demethoxycurcumin, turmerone, germacrone, atlantone, and zingiberene, to name a few.

The most active constituent of the turmeric plant is curcumin which often makes up to 2-5% of processed turmeric. Turmeric is used for variety of reasons which includes its use medicinally, as a colorant (due to its bright yellow color), as a spice in cooking (it is the major ingredient in curry), it is used in chemistry as an indicator in the test for acidity or alkalinity in chemical analysis. This article will only focus on the health importance and the medicinal properties of turmeric.

The medicinal value of turmeric has been known for centuries and this knowledge has been applied ethnomedically in traditional Chinese medicine, sidha medicine, unani and the ayurvedic medicine where it is used to treat severe skin infections, dress wounds, treat bites, burns, digestive issues, used as a blood purifier, used to relief backaches and other forms of pain, it is used as an emmenagogue to regulate menstrual flow and in the treatment of arthritis.

Due to the claims of traditional medical practitioners about the vast health benefits of turmeric, it has led scientist and researchers to devise schemes and design experiments tailored towards the evaluation of its constituent and efficacy. You would be surprised how much of these claims have been found to be scientifically relevant and this article would enlighten you on some of these proven benefits.

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent

The anti-inflammatory fighting powers of turmeric is due to the presence of curcumin; its most active constituent. Scientific studies have shown that curcumin is as effective as some common over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, indomethacin and aspirin in the reduction of inflammations. Curcumin combat infections and helps to repair worn out tissues; it inhibits NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) which is a protein complex that triggers inflammation in cells and suppresses the activities of macrophages, hence relieving inflammations at the molecular level. So when else you’re feeling a little pain in your joints, that bottle of turmeric curcumin might come in handy in relieving joint and muscle pains.

Turmeric is good for the heart

Curcumin is also effective in preventing cardiac failure, cardiac hypertrophy, hypertension and other heart diseases. This is possible because of the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric curcumin. Curcumin repairs the linings of the veins and arteries, hence regulating the blood pressure and decreasing the risks of developing congestive heart failures, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats), angina pectoris, and a host of other heart diseases. Therefore, turmeric can be used by people with these diseases to reduce or ameliorate their conditions.

Turmeric helps in the treatment of gastrointestinal issues and improves digestion

Different types of ulcers, cramping, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, oesophageal inflammations and constipations are some of the commonest conditions associated with the gastrointestinal tracts. Turmeric is often recommended to people with these conditions to help with their treatments. The anti-inflammatory actions of curcumin helps turmeric perform this function. The high fiber contents of turmeric also helps to smoothen the gastrointestinal tracts thus improving digestion of food and preventing constipations.

Turmeric helps in the treatment of menstrual distress

Cramping and excessive bleeding are two common issues associated with menstruation. Turmeric has been used in ayurvedic medicine for a long time in the treatment of these problems; the anti-inflammatory activities of curcumin helps to relieve this symptoms associated with menstrual cycles.

Turmeric is beneficial for the skin

Turmeric reduces oil secretion by the sebaceous glands and its antiseptic activities helps to inhibits the growth of pimple causing bacteria. The anti-inflammatory actions of curcumin helps to heal cuts and is generally helpful in the prevention of skin irritations. The anti-oxidative properties of curcumin helps prevent the body from oxidative damages and also scavenge for free radicals in the body, thus clearing the signs of aging like wrinkles. Scientific research has shown that curcumin helps to improve certain skin conditions like eczemas, psoriasis, and rosacea when it is injected or applied directly on the skin.

Turmeric improves brain health

BDNF (Brain-derived neurotropic factors) is a protein present in the brain that promotes the growth and the maturity of brain cells. Lower levels of BDNF have been identified in patients suffering from depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Scientific research has shown that curcumin has the ability to increase the level of BDNF in the brain and this leads to an improvement in cognitive functions and the maintenance of a healthy working memory. Turmeric is therefore a safe and natural means for the treatments of diseases that are caused by low levels of BDNF like Alzheimer’s, depression, and anxiety. Studies have shown that curcumin improves the activities of some antidepressants.

Turmeric has anti-cancer properties

Curcumin can slow down the growth and inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. Scientific research in animal subjects has shown that curcumin can kill and inhibits the growth of certain tumor cells. It is believed that it does this by inhibiting the proteins that controls cell growth. The research showed that curcumin is beneficial in the cases of breast, skin, bowel and stomach cancers. Curcumin has also been shown to enhance chemotherapy by increasing tumor sensitivity to chemotherapy agent. To achieve this anti-cancer activity, the dose of turmeric used would be far higher than in normal meals but it is possible that the constant intake of turmeric in small amounts in food can help prevent cancer.

Turmeric supports detoxification

Detoxification is the process of removal of toxins and harmful substance from the body. The liver is responsible for this process. We ingest harmful substances like pesticides and heavy metals from our environments daily and this in turn gives a lot of stress to our livers. We need to eat good foods like turmeric to help enhance the functions of our livers. Oxidative stress is another cause of liver damage. The anti-oxidative properties of curcumin helps in combating this free radicals, hence promoting hepatic health. Curcumin helps prevent liver fat accumulation and helps the gallbladder to secrete bile. The liver uses this bile in the detoxification process which is then eliminated alongside other harmful substances.

Turmeric helps in the treatment of diabetes

Turmeric has been used for the treatment of diabetes by traditional medical practitioners who practice Chinese medicines. Modern scientific research has also shown that curcumin helps to stabilize blood glucose levels and is also effective in the treatment of certain complications related to diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that helps in the control of the blood sugar levels, and this insulin is produced by the beta cells. Studies have shown that turmeric curcumin helps protect these beta cells, and these cells grew faster and lived longer in rats that consumed curcumin.

Turmeric helps with weight loss

Turmeric helps burn fat and decrease the inflammations associated with obesity. Studies showed that curcumin has the ability to inhibit the growth of fat tissues in mice.

Other benefits of turmeric curcumin

Other benefits of turmeric include the treatment of cold and cough. Ameliorating urinary tract infections (due to the antibacterial and antiseptic actions of curcumin) and the promotion of hair growth. The benefits of turmeric cannot be over emphasized, it has been described by some scientific journals as a superfood because of its hordes of benefits.

Dosage regimen for turmeric and curcumin

The dosage of turmeric will depend on the underlying medical condition that you wish to treat. There is no fixed dosing systems for turmeric curcumin, but research have shown with promising results that 500mg of turmeric extracts twice daily for 2-3 months can be used in the treatment of osteoarthritis and other inflammatory diseases. For high cholesterol levels and hypertension, 700mg of turmeric extracts twice daily for 3 months should be effective. 500mg of turmeric three times daily for 2-3 months can be used in the treatment of skin diseases and other infections.

Just like every other drug and herbal supplements, turmeric have shown slight side effect, although turmeric is safe at moderate concentrations, high doses of turmeric curcumin are not recommended for long term treatments. It has been shown that at very high doses, turmeric curcumin may aggravate kidney stones (because they contain oxalates), so they should not be used in patients with kidney stones. Turmeric inhibits iron absorption and leads to iron deficiency, individuals with iron deficiency should not consider high doses of turmeric curcumin.

Turmeric slows down blood clothing and may lead to bleeding issues, hence, it should not be used in patients with bleeding disorders. Turmeric is a spice with enormous medicinal benefits, yet it should be administered and taken with great care and precautions to achieve the desired therapeutics response.

On a final note, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before starting turmeric or any other supplement. The reason for this is because certain supplements (like turmeric) may interfere with medications you are already on. So, it is very important that you talk to your primary care provider about turmeric curcumin supplement or any other supplement you wish to take.