WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT TURMERIC?
What’s so good about turmeric?
You’ve heard of turmeric. It’s the tasty spice that dyes your counters and fingernails yellow. It’s also the magical golden root recognized around the world for its supposed ability to heal just about anything. And while turmeric’s healthy reputation may seem overblown, there’s a good deal of evidence showing that its most active compound, curcumin, can benefit your whole body.
So what’s the catch?
Curcumin can be hard for our bodies to absorb, so its amazing health benefits only apply if you increase its bioavailability (the degree to which it can be absorbed into your bloodstream).
Turmeric is anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is your body’s response to irritation, whether that’s an infection, an injury, or an allergy. It’s a natural part of the healing process, but sometimes it sticks around when it’s not needed.
In autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease, the immune system attacks itself, causing harmful inflammation. There’s also increasing evidence that inflammation induces diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.
In the body, curcumin has been shown to inhibit cytokines, the protein that causes inflammation. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties have been widely studied, and it has yielded positive results in treating inflammatory conditions from asthma to post-workout muscle pain.
Turmeric has antioxidant properties
Our cells produce atoms called free radicals as part of their normal processes, but too many free radicals cause oxidative stress, which damages our cells and leads to aging, as well as a wide range of diseases. We can help our body fight oxidative stress by making sure we have plenty of antioxidants.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of a variety of antioxidants that help protect a variety of body structures—which is why a diverse diet is the best way to cultivate whole-body health.
The exciting thing about curcumin is that it’s a powerful antioxidant that can help target some of the biggest and baddest disease categories: cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Turmeric contains anti-microbial compounds
Curcumin is a natural antimicrobial agent. This is a big umbrella: it encompasses antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
- Antibacterial: Curcumin has been shown to inhibit bacterial infections like staph, E. coli, and salmonella.
- Antiviral: Curcumin has yielded positive results as part of a treatment for HIV, influenza, and HPV.
- Antifungal: Curcumin has been used effectively to treat a range of Candida infections.
Can turmeric improve mood and energy?
In one study, a group of healthy adults aged 65–80 showed significant improvements in calmness, contentedness, and fatigue after taking curcumin for four weeks. Their performance in memory and attention-related tasks improved significantly in as little as an hour after taking the supplement.
And while we don’t totally understand how curcumin affects the brain, one 2008 study found that it affected mood-modulating neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in mice.
Turmeric lives up to its reputation
The curcumin compound in turmeric can both address ongoing inflammation and help prevent oxidative stresses that contribute to disease. Some studies have even shown that curcumin can help inhibit some infectious microbes, which include bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Early evidence also suggests that curcumin may have positive effects on both mood and brain function—a promising finding that warrants more research.
Taking a supplement like Turmeric Complex can help you get the most benefits out of your turmeric regimen because it contains ingredients that help your body absorb curcumin. For more on how to incorporate turmeric into your daily routine, check out How can you add more turmeric to your diet?