Turmeric (Curcumin): 6 Health Benefits You Need to Know

Turmeric (Curcumin): 6 Health Benefits You Need to Know

Turmeric, also known as Indian saffron, is a colorful spice native to Southeast Asia and has been used in medicine and Indian cuisine for centuries. Turmeric is well-known for containing a powerful antioxidant called curcumin, which provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Curcumin may reduce the risk of several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Most studies have been done on animals or in vitro (using human cells in a petri dish). Very few studies have been done on humans, so the health benefits of turmeric are still unknown.

Turmeric spice and supplements are made by grinding the rhizome (root) of a plant. To learn more about turmeric, including its health benefits and side effects, and more.

1. Shown to Improve Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance syndrome, is a condition that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. It is characterized by three or more risk factors, such as high blood sugar, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Other risk factors include abdominal obesity and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. One in three adults has metabolic syndrome.

A small 2016 study looked at the effects of curcumin supplementation in people with metabolic syndrome. Researchers tested pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins that are associated with metabolic syndrome.

The study authors found that curcumin significantly reduced cytokines in participants’ blood samples over an eight-week period. Because the study was small, larger studies are needed to confirm this benefit.

2. It Helps Relieve Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Depression is a common and serious mental illness that causes sadness, reduced energy, loss of appetite, and loss of pleasure. Nearly 17% of people experience depression at some point in their lives, usually in their late teens or early 20s.

A review of nine studies published in 2020 looked at turmeric’s effects on depression and anxiety. Researchers found that people who took turmeric as a dietary supplement saw significant improvements in their symptoms. The study authors concluded that the study was too small to base medical decisions on and that further research is needed.

3. Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is part of your immune system’s defense. When your immune system comes into contact with germs or you get injured, it sends out inflammatory cells and chemicals like cytokines to protect and heal your body. Chronic inflammation means your immune system may be constantly sending out this response, even when it doesn’t need to. This can lead to pain, fatigue, depression, weight gain, infections, acid reflux, and other problems.

A review of seven clinical trials published in 2015 looked at turmeric and oxidative stress (an imbalance between harmful chemicals and antioxidants). Researchers found that taking turmeric supplements for more than six weeks reduced markers of oxidative stress and increased antioxidants.

It’s worth noting that these clinical trials were small; the study authors said larger studies are needed to fully understand the benefits.

4. May Reduce Kidney Disease in Diabetics

Kidney disease affects one-third of all people with diabetes. If diabetes is untreated, excess blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys over time. Kidney disease usually progresses slowly over many years.

Studies have found that taking turmeric may lead to improvement in tests that measure markers of kidney damage. Turmeric can lower urinary albumin levels. Albumin is a muscle-building protein that is normally present in the blood but can be found in the urine if you have kidney damage.

5. It Can Inhibit Cancer Cells

Cancer refers to a number of diseases that have in common that cells grow abnormally and begin to spread, damaging nearby body tissues. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by deaths from heart disease.

There have been many studies done on turmeric and cancer. Most of these have only involved animals or test tubes. Although few studies have been done in humans, there is some evidence to suggest that curcumin nanoparticles may slow the growth of cancer cells. Curcumin may even reduce the size and weight of tumors. Larger human studies are needed to provide conclusive evidence.

6. May Relieve Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, or the area where two bones meet, such as the knee or elbow. There are many types of arthritis, each with its own causes and treatments. Symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. One in four adults in the United States has arthritis and it is the leading cause of disability.

Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial in inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Some evidence suggests that turmeric may alter pro-inflammatory cells called cytokines, which may reduce inflammation in people with osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type of arthritis. There are too few studies examining the effects of turmeric on arthritis to make a definitive recommendation for its use.

Brief Overview

Turmeric is a promising anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. This spice may have a positive effect on people with cancer, metabolic syndrome, depression, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases. More research is needed to fully understand turmeric’s effects on human health.

If you like the taste of turmeric, try using it as a spice in your cooking. Consult your doctor if you want to take turmeric or curcumin as a dietary supplement, especially if you are taking other medications.

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