Curcuma Benefits & Side Effects

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There are a number of Curcuma benefits to boost your overall health if you add it to your daily or weekly routine.


Curcuma longa, known more popularly as turmeric or curcumin, is a member of the ginger family that is native to Southeast Asia and India. The tall stems can grow up to 3 feet in height, with brilliant white or pink flowers. Curcuma is prized because of its long, tubular rhizomes, which have a bright orange color. The rhizomes can be eaten raw, but they are primarily boiled, dried, and ground to make turmeric powder. Turmeric powder is a popular spice around the world and is a staple ingredient of Asian curries. Turmeric is also used as a natural dye, producing a bright, golden yellow, much like saffron.

Curcuma has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese folk medicine for centuries, and many proponents of the spice swear by Curcuma benefits. However, there is limited scientific evidence to back up some of these claims.

Bowl of turmeric powder with a spoon and whole turmeric spice

Curcumin combined with enhancing agents provides multiple health benefits. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Spices, turmeric, ground
Serving Size :
Water [g]12.85
Energy 312
Energy [kJ]1305
Protein [g]9.68
Total lipid (fat) [g]3.25
Ash [g]7.08
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]67.14
Fiber, total dietary [g]22.7
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]3.21
Sucrose [g]2.38
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.38
Fructose [g]0.45
Calcium, Ca [mg]168
Iron, Fe [mg]55
Magnesium, Mg [mg]208
Phosphorus, P [mg]299
Potassium, K [mg]2080
Sodium, Na [mg]27
Zinc, Zn [mg]4.5
Copper, Cu [mg]1.3
Manganese, Mn [mg]19.8
Selenium, Se [µg]6.2
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0.7
Thiamin [mg]0.06
Riboflavin [mg]0.15
Niacin [mg]1.35
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.54
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.11
Folate, total [µg]20
Folate, food [µg]20
Folate, DFE [µg]20
Choline, total [mg]49.2
Betaine [mg]9.7
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]4.43
Tocopherol, beta [mg]0.01
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.72
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.12
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.05
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]13.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]1.84
8:0 [g]0
10:0 [g]0.85
12:0 [g]0
14:0 [g]0.39
16:0 [g]0.16
17:0 [g]0.34
18:0 [g]0
20:0 [g]0.1
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.45
14:1 [g]0.15
17:1 [g]0.16
18:1 [g]0.13
18:1 c [g]0.08
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.76
18:2 [g]0.67
18:3 [g]0.08
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0
18:3 n-6 c,c,c [g]0.08
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0.06
Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic [g]0.06
18:1 t [g]0.06
Tryptophan [g]0.17
Threonine [g]0.33
Isoleucine [g]0.47
Leucine [g]0.81
Lysine [g]0.38
Methionine [g]0.14
Cystine [g]0.15
Phenylalanine [g]0.53
Tyrosine [g]0.32
Valine [g]0.66
Arginine [g]0.54
Histidine [g]0.15
Alanine [g]0.33
Aspartic acid [g]1.86
Glutamic acid [g]1.14
Glycine [g]0.47
Proline [g]0.48
Serine [g]0.28
Sources include : USDA [1]

Curcuma Benefits

Curcuma is known for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may help aid digestion, and improve cognitive abilities. Let us look at the most important Curcuma benefits.

Provides Pain Relief

The main active ingredient in Curcuma is curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. However, there is very little curcumin in dried turmeric. Most people prefer to take turmeric extract or curcumin pills. Since curcumin does not absorb into the bloodstream well, most curcumin supplements sold for pain relief also contain black pepper. Black pepper has the chemical piperine, which helps curcumin be absorbed more efficiently by the body. According to a 2010 study published in Surgical Neurology International by Joseph C. Maroon et al., Curcuma longa and its derivative products are an effective means of relieving pain in therapeutic doses. [2]

While human studies are still being done, animal studies have shown that curcumin does indeed have a mitigating effect on pain receptors in the brain. Perhaps more importantly, curcumin is very anti-inflammatory. Curcumin has been shown to block a certain molecule, NF-kB, which is thought to be linked to inflammation on a genetic level and has been connected to many chronic diseases. [3] [4]

Aids Digestion

Curcumin stimulates bile production and promotes gallbladder health, which in turn contributes to overall digestive health. It is commonly recommended for gas, bloating and indigestion. It is especially recommended for anyone suffering from an inflammatory gastric disease, such as ulcerative colitis or gastritis.

Relieves Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Patients suffering from osteoarthritis – a condition in which the joints wear down and grow stiff from age – often take turmeric to help relieve inflammation. In fact, in numerous studies, curcumin did just as well as ibuprofen at controlling pain and swelling. Additionally, because curcumin is such a strong antioxidant, it can prevent oxidative stress in and around the joints. A 2016 study at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA showed that curcumin was indeed effective at relieving pain and had an effect on several enzymes related to inflammation, including lipoxygenase, cyclooxygenase, phospholipase, collagenase, and hyaluronidase. [5]

Improves Brain Function

Curcumin can stimulate the production of BDNF, a neurotrophic growth hormone that the body produces naturally, and which is key to neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells. Low levels of BDNF have been found in people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many people believe that curcumin’s ability to boost BDNF levels can prevent the loss of cognition or memory, and may even reverse the effects of neurodegeneration. Curcumin may also help clear away beta-amyloid plaques, which are a key sign of Alzheimer’s. However, more human trials are necessary to claim a direct link. [6]

Side Effects

In general, Curcuma as a spice is used in small quantities, but in larger doses, it may cause stomach upset, nausea, and dizziness. Curcuma may thin the blood, so do not take curcumin before checking with your doctor, particularly if you have already been prescribed medication for blood pressure. Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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