Turmeric is a natural spice commonly used in Indian dishes, especially in curries.
While turmeric has been used for many years as a herbal medicine in Asian countries, more recently the benefits of turmeric have been discovered by the scientific community. Here, we review the medical studies using turmeric supplements to treat a variety of conditions.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a flowering plant that belongs to the ginger family. This plant is native to India and Southeast Asia. It is the root of the turmeric plant which is dried and ground into a fine turmeric powder which is then used in cooking.
Turmeric contains an antioxidant – curcumin. Antioxidants work to protect the cells in your body from the damaging effects of free radicals. Curcumin is also anti-inflammatory which means that it can also reduce damage due to increased inflammation in the body.
What are the demands?
There are many claims regarding the health benefits of turmeric and its active component, curcumin, specifically related to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But what does science say? Is there any evidence that curcumin is beneficial for health or for fighting disease? Below is a review of clinical trials of turmeric supplements for a range of medical conditions.
Curcumin for arthritis
There is some evidence that curcumin has anti-arthritic effects in patients with arthritis – both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical trials that assigned patients to take curcumin supplements reported improvements in pain and physical functioning when patients took curcumin supplements that also contained piperine. In some studies, a reduction in indicators of inflammation has also been seen in patients taking curcumin supplements. A similar reduction in pain was seen in patients taking curcumin compared to those taking ibuprofen for arthritis pain.
A systematic review of the scientific evidence concluded that taking curcumin supplements for eight to twelve weeks was associated with a reduction in arthritis symptoms, achieving similar efficacy to diclofenac sodium and ibuprofen. Based on this evidence, the researchers concluded that “turmeric extracts and curcumin may be recommended for relieving symptoms of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis”.
Curcumin for metabolic syndrome
Since obesity is associated with chronic inflammation, it follows that the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric could also be beneficial for overweight or obese people. Clinical trials have shown that patients with metabolic syndrome who took curcumin supplements containing piperine had a reduction in molecules associated with inflammation. Curcumin supplements have also been found to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood while increasing the levels of good cholesterol.
Curcumin for mood and memory
The effects of curcumin on mood and cognition were evaluated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. This trial reported a significant improvement in the participants’ ability to perform attention and memory activities. The study also reported the beneficial effects of curcumin supplements on mood, including fatigue, contentment, and calmness.
Curcumin for anxiety and depression
Participants in a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial were given either a curcumin supplement complex or a placebo (no curcumin), followed by a period of no treatment, then a ‘crossover’ to the group. alternative treatment. In this study, anxiety measures were significantly reduced after taking curcumin supplements. However, the study reported no difference in depression scores after treatment. Another randomized clinical trial reported that treatment with curcumin was associated with significant improvements in depressive symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder.
Curcumin for irritable bowel syndrome
Some evidence suggests that curcumin may also be beneficial for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A clinical trial combined curcumin with fennel essential oil – due to its known calming effects on the intestines. The study reported that the combination provided significant symptom relief after a period of 30 days. This included a reduction in abdominal pain and an improvement in quality of life. The study found that after the treatment period, the proportion of patients “without symptoms” was significantly higher in the group who took the supplements.
Curcumin for allergies
A two-month clinical trial that administered curcumin or a placebo control to over 200 patients with allergic rhinitis reported nasal symptoms after treatment. The study found that curcumin reduced the amount of sneezing and nasal congestion, which was associated with changes in a range of molecules involved in the immune response that occurs during allergic reactions. Although this is a pilot study, this trial demonstrated the ability of curcumin to improve symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis, resulting in improved airflow in the nasal passages.
Curcumin for weight loss
In addition to the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin studied in patients with metabolic syndrome, the effect of curcumin on weight loss in patients with metabolic syndrome has also been studied. After taking a curcumin supplement, patients experienced increased weight loss, reduced body fat percentage, and greater reductions in waistline, hip, and BMI measurements compared to patients. who have not taken curcumin.
Curcumin for endometriosis
Studies have shown that curcumin reduces inflammation by blocking the signaling of the same inflammatory molecules that play a role in endometriosis. Other processes known to play a role in endometriosis such as oxidative stress and angiogenesis (the formation of blood vessels) are also prevented by curcumin.
Are There Any Side Effects of Taking Curcumin Supplements?
Curcumin is generally considered safe and well tolerated, with a recommended daily intake of 0 to 3 mg per kg of body weight. Side effects associated – usually with high doses – of curcumin can include yellow stools, rash, headache, nausea, and diarrhea.
What are the best curcumin supplements?
According to research studies, the best curcumin supplements to take are those that are contained in a complex with a molecule that increases the bioavailability of curcumin – for example, piperine (the bioactive compound found in black pepper). In this way, you increase the absorption of curcumin by your body to maximize the health benefits associated with it. Before taking any supplements, you should check with your doctor to make sure they are right for you.
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