The Actual Health Benefits Of Turmeric: Facts Vs Myths

Turmeric is one of the most well-known health supplements on the market, appearing everywhere in health mags and Instagram pages with a whole host of claims about how many Turmeric benefits there are, to the point where if you believed it all we’d think it was a miracle spice. And whilst there are a lot of potential health benefits from turmeric, not all of them are quite as good as they’d appear at first glance.   

Number 1 FACT: Turmeric Is An Anti-Inflammatory

Turmeric contains an ingredient known as curcumin, this is where the anti-inflammatory effect comes from and it is relatively well backed in double blind trials. Turmeric works by reducing the production of chemicals in the body that start the bodies inflammation cycle. This is why Turmeric (or rather curcumin, the active ingredient in curcumin supplements a turmeric extract) tends to make it into a lot of supplements designed for joint health or arthritis. However, there is a slight catch to this. [1]

Turmeric Myth Busted

The trials that proved curcumin works effectively for reducing joint pain and improving inflammation, used 500mg-1000mg a day of curcumin extract, which would be equivalent to about 10 grams of Turmeric. This means that the vast majority of Turmeric supplements are not including nearly enough of the active ingredient for them to be effective. [2]

Related Article ---> Best Joint Supplements

Number 2 Fact: Turmeric Is Good For Digestion

There are some digestive benefits of turmeric although these mostly rely on it’s anti-inflammatory effect that we’ve already mentioned. This can make it quite useful for IBD which is an inflammatory issue, but beyond that turmeric doesn’t have any major benefits. [3] 

Number 3 Fact(ish): Turmeric Regulates Blood Sugar

Curcumin has been shown to help lower blood sugar in trials on patients with Type 2 Diabetes. It’s also been shown to reduce the rate at which prediabetes progresses to type 2 diabetes and whilst the early trials are incredibly promising, it’s not enough to call it a complete fact as the general consensus is more trials are needed. But, it looks good for Turmeric (or rather curcumin) so far. [4]

Number 4 Mixed: Turmeric And Cancer

Some studies have shown that Turmeric has some anti-cancer affects, specifically bowel, breast, skin and stomach. However, the research is very limited and it is certainly not as strong as any medical intervention there is the suggestion that it could have a mild additional benefit from turmeric.  [5] However, we wouldn't suggest that this is one of the key benefits of turmeric.

Number 5 Fact: Turmeric Is An Antioxidant

Turmeric does have anti oxidant qualities so this one is true. This means that it does have a lot of tangential benefits as a result.

Number 6 Fact: Turmeric is good for your immune system

In low doses curcumin has been shown to improve antibody responses, it shows substantial promise as an immune response enhancer. The research is relatively low, however it does all seem sound and there isn’t really any evidence to the contrary, nor is it unexpected due to how curcumin effects the body. [1]

Number 7 Mixed: Turmeric Improves Erectile Function

It’s anti inflammation qualities will have some benefits for erectile function, but there aren’t many good quality trials that back its use specifically. It could work, but there are more claims around this from the supplement industry than are realistically valid. [6]

Number 8 Fact: Turmeric Improves Heart Health

Turmeric has been shown to improve blood pressure and it’s been shown to lower cholesterol, with this in mind saying that it should improve overall heart health seems entirely reasonable. However, this means it’s important for people taking blood pressure or thinning medication to check with their doctor before taking turmeric supplements. [1]

Number 9 Mixed: Turmeric Is Good For Depression

There are a lot of animal studies that show turmeric raises serotonin and dopamine. However, it’s always questionable as to whether or not that will actually pass through to human studies. Much more research is needed before we can make any call on whether or not Turmeric works for depression or not. We won’t rule it out just yet, but there is not enough evidence to support these claims.

Number 10 Mixed: Turmeric Aids In Liver Health

There are a couple of ways in which turmeric is incredibly useful. But these are highly specialised. Curcumin limits damage to the liver from iron overdose, ethanol and carbon tetrachloride, but this is overly specific. It could also be able to able to reduce liver enzyme levels that are a mark of damage, however, this still needs more research.

Number 11 Fact: Turmeric Is Good For Your Skin

It’s been shown to be helpful for everything from eczema to wounds when applied topically.

Number 12 Myth: Turmeric Weight Loss

There was one decent study that showed turmeric increased weight loss, however, this was specifically in relation to metabolic syndrome. Not general weight loss. As a result the supplement is often mismarketed. More studies have shown that Turmeric has no statistically noticeable advantage for weight loss under normal circumstances. Thus, we wouldn’t say turmeric is good for weight loss, there are better supplements out there for that.

Does Turmeric Really Work? A Conclusion

The answer to this is quite simply it depends on what you’re looking for, it should always be noted that the vast majority of these effects are moderate to mild rather than a replacement for proper medical intervention. Whilst Turmeric supplements are usually 500mg most of the benefits need to be from a curcumin extract and typically these are not dosed correctly. Keep this in mind when you are looking at a turmeric supplement.

Related Article ---> Best Joint Supplements

References

1 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/

2 - https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/treatment/complementary-therapies/supplements-and-vitamins/supplement-and-herb-guide-for-arthritis-symptoms

3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4080703/

4 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338652/

5 - https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/curcumin-pdq

6 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5598100/

7- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7728608

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