The many health benefits of turmeric spice
Turmeric is a spice that has long been valued for its culinary uses and numerous health benefits. Derived from the Curcuma longa plant, turmeric is a natural remedy for healing wounds and skin disorders and promoting joint, digestive, and respiratory health.
Research shows that curcumin—a compound found in turmeric—has anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, anticancer, and antioxidant properties that benefit the brain, heart, digestive system, and more.2
Turmeric and curcumin have been studied extensively for their potential therapeutic uses. Below are some key health benefits of turmeric and curcumin.
Curcumin, the primary polyphenol (health-boosting) compound in turmeric, may benefit joint health and help manage symptoms of arthritis. Arthritis is characterized by inflammation, which causes pain and joint damage. Curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects help control inflammation and may reduce arthritis-related pain, swelling, and joint damage.
A 2016 research review found that curcumin may relieve joint pain as effectively as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
A study exploring turmeric extract supplementation for knee osteoarthritis found that turmeric effectively reduces inflammation and relieves pain. Participants given the turmeric supplement reported a reduction in NSAID usage and improvements in symptoms and knee function.
Boosts Memory and Mood
Curcumin has potential benefits for brain health and cognitive function. Thanks to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin may mitigate the effects of harmful free radicals—unstable molecules that can contribute to memory impairment, mood disorders, and age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.56
A meta-analysis of nine studies found that curcumin may help boost mood and reduce depression and anxiety.7 A study exploring the effects of curcumin on brain health in older adults found that curcumin may help preserve cognitive function. Researchers observed significant improvements to study participants' working memory, and participants reported experiencing better moods and less fatigue.8
Supports Heart Health
Heart disease is a leading cause of death globally, accounting for 1 in 5 deaths in the United States alone.9 When taken along with practicing healthy lifestyle habits like eating a balanced diet and regular exercise, curcumin may help maintain optimal heart health.
Research shows that curcumin may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by protecting against several risk factors, including inflammation, metabolic disorders, and high cholesterol.
One study found curcumin supplementation as effective as exercise in improving heart health in postmenopausal women.11 Another study found that curcumin can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
The most significant impact curcumin has on heart health may be its positive effects on the function of the endothelium (the inner lining of blood vessels and the heart), which plays a crucial role in blood flow.
Endothelial dysfunction can lead to heart disease, blood clots, and high blood pressure. Evidence suggests that curcumin supports healthy endothelial function, helping lower the risk of heart disease.13
May Protect Against Cancer
Early research exploring curcumin's potential uses for cancer prevention and treatment shows promising results. Small clinical trials investigating the effects of curcumin on certain cancers—including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer—found that curcumin has several anticancer properties that can regulate the immune system's response against cancer, inhibit the growth of and spread of cancer cells and induce apoptosis (death) in cancer cells.
A 2021 research review found that curcumin supplementation boosts the effectiveness of standard cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and may help increase survival rates and survival times of people with cancer.
May Help Prevent and Manage Diabetes
Curcumin may help regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels, which may help prevent and manage metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are two key contributors to the development of insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Research shows that curcumin may help alleviate oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, lowering the risk of metabolic diseases.17
Curcumin may help people with type 2 diabetes manage the condition. Research shows that curcumin improves insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in people with type 2 diabetes.18 It also helps lower cholesterol levels in people with the condition. This suggests that curcumin supplementation may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and prevent type 2 diabetes complications such as heart disease.
Source: Verywell Health