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All About Turmeric

Updated on May 14, 2020
Erin C Day profile image

Erin writes for a number of blogs on various health, nutrition, and wellness topics.

Photo by FOODISM360 on Unsplash
Photo by FOODISM360 on Unsplash

While browsing a store’s aisles while shopping you may have seen some food or beauty product with turmeric in it. I’ve even bought a facial serum that advertises its turmeric ingredient. Well what exactly is it and what’s so good about it?

Turmeric is a spice and has been used to treat various bodily ailments. “Turmeric is used as a dietary supplement for inflammation; arthritis; stomach, skin, liver, and gallbladder problems; cancer; and other conditions,” claims the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH).

Turmeric is used in cooking recipes, tablets/capsules, supplements, teas, powders, and skin and healthcare products. Why is this? It's probably because of all the benefits turmeric has.

Benefits of Turmeric

According to WebMD, turmeric can ease:

  • Depression

  • Type 2 Diabetes

  • Viral Infections

  • PMS

  • High Cholesterol

  • Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Arthritis

  • Cancer

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Headaches

  • Acne

It is thanks to one component of turmeric that this is possible. “The primary active component of turmeric — and the one that gives the spice its characteristic yellow color — is curcumin,” says Lauren Bedosky. “In fact, you can credit curcumin as the compound responsible for most of turmeric’s potential health benefits.” Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation causes many diseases so, by reducing it, you can prevent developing such diseases. This is how turmeric is able to reduce pain as well.

However, Bedosky provides that turmeric doesn’t absorb well into the bloodstream. “To reach the amounts of turmeric and curcumin shown to offer benefits in research studies, you’ll have to turn to supplements,” she says. “Still, you may be able to reap benefits by adding black pepper anytime you use turmeric, and/or taking a turmeric supplement that incorporates black pepper.”

I’ve also heard eating turmeric with fats boosts its absorbency.

Because of its antioxidant ability turmeric “may stop your liver from being damaged by toxins,” according to Medical News Today. “This could be good news for people who take strong drugs for diabetes or other health conditions that might hurt their liver with long-term use.”

Additionally, turmeric is often used as a cooking ingredient. While making your food tastier, it can also aid your digestion.

Gordon Hamiton suggests trying these dishes with turmeric:

  • Turmeric pork tenderloin

  • Marlin with turmeric rice and chutney

  • Spicy chicken stew in turmeric Yorkshire pudding

  • Salmon with broccoli and cauliflower turmeric rice

  • Chicken and mushroom turmeric fried rice with onion gravy

  • Spicey ground beef with turmeric mash

  • Turmeric-baked chicken thighs

  • Turmeric-spiced tilapia fillet

  • Turmeric chicken thighs with spicy turmeric rice and sauce

I don’t know about you, but I am certainly hungry now--those sound delicious!

Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash
Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

In terms of beauty, turmeric can be used as a skin-brightening face mask. It can also heal dry skin, maintain skin elasticity, moisturize skin, and slow down skin’s aging process, claims healthmunsta. They say that a face mask with ¼ teaspoon of turmeric, 1 tsp of milk, and 1 tsp of honey will treat dry skin. If you have oily skin, sway the milk out for lemon and it’ll work wonders. An avocado, yogurt, and turmeric mask will make dull skin radiant.

There seems to be almost nothing turmeric can help with in terms of health, but it does hold some potential dangers.

Turmeric Risks

According to RxList, “Turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin appropriately for up to 8 months” and “POSSIBLY SAFE when it is used as an enema or a mouthwash in the short-term.”

They also claim that some people can experience stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. Tumeric can also worsen gallbladder problems, slow blood clotting, decrease blood sugar, worsen stomach problems, worsen hormone-sensitive conditions, reduce fertility in men, and prevent absorption of iron. So it is important to exercise caution in how much turmeric you use and notice any negative side effects.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Erin Day

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    • talesofvikram profile image

      Vikram Brahma 

      10 days ago from Assam, India

      Hey Erin, another nice article. We in India use turmeric a lot. In fact, my parents mix turmeric in milk and drink at night before sleep. Yes, definitely it has many health benefits. I was not aware of risk of it. Thanks for sharing in your article.

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