22 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric & Curcumin

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Dr. Sandesh Krishna Bhosale (BAMS, PGDHA)

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The amazing health benefits of turmeric and curcumin include the ability to reduce inflammation, heal wounds, improve skin health, protect cognitive abilities, and ease menstrual difficulties. Turmeric also helps eliminate depression, alleviate pain, slow down aging, protect the digestive tract, and prevent cancer.

What is Turmeric?

Closely related to the other members of the ginger family, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial herb native to IndiaThe herb itself is derived from the rhizome of the plant, which is dried before the useful powdered form can be acquired. It needs a rather specific temperature and environment to thrive, so it is not widely cultivated throughout the world but is exported due to its desirability. The bright yellow color of this herb is perhaps its most striking characteristic. You’ve certainly seen it, even if you haven’t recognized it, and if you have ever enjoyed Indian food, you have almost certainly consumed it.

Turmeric smells slightly like mustard but has a hot, almost pepper-like bitterness to it that complements a variety of dishes. The herb has also been praised as one of the most comprehensive and powerful herbal medicines in Ayurvedic treatments and other traditional cultural remedies. Curcumin is the most important active ingredient of this “super herb”.


Turmeric is one of the most nutritionally rich herbs. As per the USDA, it contains good amounts of protein, vitamin C, calcium, iron, dietary fiber, sodium, and about 24 calories in a 1 tablespoon serving of turmeric powder. It also provides a rich supply of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.

Benefits of Turmeric & Curcumin

The top health benefits of turmeric and curcumin include the following:


Turmeric, due to the presence of curcumin, acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, say researchers from the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. In fact, even a topical salve can reduce the inflammation of hemorrhoids.

Fresh turmeric and a bowl and a spoon with turmeric powder

Skin Care

Turmeric helps keep your skin healthy in many ways.

  • It keeps pimples at bay by inhibiting the growth of pimple-causing bacteria and reducing the oil secretion by the sebaceous glands.
  • The constant use of turmeric clears acne scars, which makes your skin flawless and glowing.
  • Its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties accelerate the healing of a cut and soothe skin irritation.
  • Curcumin present in turmeric is an antioxidant that fights signs of aging like wrinkles and pigmentation by curbing the growth of free radicals.

Rich in Antioxidants

Curcumin present in turmeric is a great antioxidant agent that helps in numerous ways including its many cosmetic and medicinal benefits. A study conducted by researchers of the University of Edinburgh, published in the Antioxidants & Redox Signaling journal, highlights the potent antioxidant and oxygen radical scavenging activity of curcumin.

Weight Loss

The golden spice, turmeric, helps accelerate the metabolism rate and lets your body burn a significant number of calories, leading to weight loss. It is also useful in reducing fat mass and detoxification of the liver, which are essential contributors when it comes to diet-induced weight loss efforts. Also, with curcumin, turmeric can be an ideal weight-loss supplement as it lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. It is also responsible for suppressing inflammatory messages in muscles, pancreas, and fat cells. So, while your body isn’t fighting inflammation, it can easily focus on reducing weight.

Nutrition Facts

Spices, turmeric, ground
Serving Size :
Water [g]12.85
Energy [kcal]312
Protein [g]9.68
Total lipid (fat) [g]3.25
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]67.14
Fiber, total dietary [g]22.7
Sugars, total [g]3.21
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
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0.7
Thiamin [mg]0.06
Riboflavin [mg]0.15
Niacin [mg]1.35
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.11
Folate, DFE [µg]20
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]0
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]4.43
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]13.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]1.84
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.45
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.76
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0.06
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Promotes Liver Health

Turmeric and its active organic compounds have also been found to improve liver function and reduce the levels of toxicity in the body by stimulating the lymphatic system and removing toxins efficiently. According to a 2018 research study, the antioxidant activities of turmeric can be effective in reducing liver damage and the spice can be included as a complementary treatment for liver ailments such as cirrhosis and fatty liver disease.

Improves Brain Function

In traditional medicine, it was often relied on to boost cognitive abilities, increase concentration, and boost memory retention. Many of those traditional beliefs have ended up being legitimated by research, and turmeric is still considered a brain-boosting herb. It can also protect the neural pathways from long-term oxidative stress and the build-up of plaque. Dr. Yousef Tizabi et al., of Howard University College of Medicine, in a study, have proven the antidepressant-like effects of curcumin in a rat model.

Prevents Blood Clots

Turmeric powder is a very powerful blood thinner due to the presence of curcumin in it. This anticoagulant prevents blood clotting by clumping the platelets close together.

Improves Heart Health

Turmeric rich in curcumin and vitamin B6 also boosts your cardiovascular health. Vitamin B6 can efficiently inhibit the production of homocysteine, which is a negative by-product that damages cell walls. These weakened walls can cause a number of complications in the heart, particularly when exacerbated by high blood pressure or plaque build-up.

Curcumin directly balances your cholesterol levels by eliminating excess LDL (bad) cholesterol from the arteries and blood vessels. This can help prevent atherosclerosis and when combined with stronger blood vessels, the herb represents a comprehensive solution for a wide range of heart issues, as per a study cited in the Basic Research in Cardiology.

Anti-cancer Properties

study conducted on mice by the researchers at the Cancer Research Institute, Tata Memorial Center, Mumbai, India documents the potential protective effect of turmeric on stomach and skin cancer. The most extensive research on turmeric’s cancer prevention effects has been in colon cancer, whereas other types of cancer research related to curcumin are currently underway. Additionally, an animal study by Ramadasan Kuttan et al. (Cancer Letters Journal) indicated that the turmeric extract and curcumin inhibited the growth of the tumor. Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center found that curcumin’s potential ability to kill cancer cells can be used in drug development. Additional studies need to be done to get the health benefits of this spice pertaining to cancer. 

Prevents Alzheimer’s

As a powerful antioxidant herb, turmeric can stimulate neural activity and prevent cognitive degradations, which often come in the form of Alzheimer’s and dementia. As per a study by Srikant Mishra from the Department of Neurology, Plummer Street, Sepulveda, CA, curcumin is highly efficient in clearing out the amyloid plaque, which is a major indicator of Alzheimer’s progression. A study also found that turmeric supplements improved mood and cognitive function in non-demented older people suffering from mild age-related memory issues.

Other Benefits

Other turmeric and curcumin benefits include:

Prevents Arthritis & Reduces Pain

Turmeric supplements are often suggested for the reduction of arthritic pain, gout, and muscle pain following exercise or injury. Topical application of turmeric will also serve the purpose. Curcumin also aids in decreasing age-related disorders like atherosclerosis, according to a study published in Immunity and Ageing. 

Treats Depression

Curcumin truly is a versatile substance, and the research has even delved into its effects on the hormonal balance in the body. Studies have shown that curcumin has a similar effect like Prozac on patients suffering from depression, mood swings, anxiety, and stress. This makes it a powerful alternative to pharmaceutical routes, which often have dangerous or addictive side effects.

Delays Aging

The herb’s major component curcumin, loaded with antioxidants, fights signs of aging like wrinkles and pigmentation by curbing the growth of free radicals.

Diabetes Management

Turmeric has found a place in traditional medicine for its usefulness against diabetes. A review study published in the Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine confirms that it could be helpful in keeping diabetes as well as associated disorders under control. It could positively affect insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and hyperlipidemia. To make better use of these properties of turmeric, the study further recommends better bioavailability and further clinical trials.

Treats Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)

Turmeric supplement is often recommended for patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and even more serious conditions such as Crohn’s disease. The dietary fiber content found in it is still significant and can help smooth your digestive processes.

Treats Gastrointestinal Issues

Turmeric powder has long been used as a stomach soother and is particularly useful in treating constipation, cramping, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin also comes into play here, as it lowers the risk of developing ulcers, bleeding in the bowels, and generally eliminates irritation throughout the gut. It is often recommended for patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and even more serious conditions such as Crohn’s disease. The dietary fiber content found in it can help smooth your digestive processes.

Treats Menstrual Issues

If you suffer from severe menstrual discomfort, cramping, bloating, excessive bleeding, or mood swings, turmeric may be precisely what you’ve been looking for. The anti-inflammatory and soothing nature of the herb’s natural compounds can relieve most of the symptoms of menstruation.

Treats Cystic Fibrosis

Although this crippling, fatal genetic disease is not discussed as often as cancer or heart disease, this particular condition attacks the lungs with thick mucus as well as the pancreas. The curcumin found in turmeric has been shown to correct the protein-folding mutation that can cause the development of this deadly disease.


This herb has both culinary as well as traditional cosmetic uses.

Cosmetic Uses

Turmeric juice is perhaps the most common form of the herb in medical use, but it can also be mixed into topical salves and creams. The essential oil of turmeric is also a powerful health agent.

  • Teeth whitening: While it is known to leave stubborn yellow stains on clothes, it surprisingly helps in removing the stains from teeth when mixed with coconut oil and baking soda.
  • Soap: This amazing anti-inflammatory and skin whitening agent is used in herbal soaps.
  • Sunburn remedy: It can also be mixed with yogurt or with aloe vera gel as a natural skin lightener or sunburn soother.
  • Wounds: Turmeric paste can be applied to heal cuts and wounds.
  • Face mask: Turmeric face masks have been used since ancient times as they improve skin luster and prevent acne. It can be mixed with yogurt, glycerine, honey, aloe vera, or vitamin E.
  • Skin moisturizer: Turmeric mixed with olive or coconut oil forms a natural skin emollient.

Culinary Uses

The herb also makes it a popular ingredient in soups, sauces, curries, meat dishes, biscuits, rice preparations, and as a general spice flavoring for dozens of other cultural dishes and specialties.

  • Smoothies: It can be added to smoothies as it gives them a uniquely sweet taste, something similar to pina colada, along with health benefits.
  • Milk: Warm milk mixed with a teaspoon of the herb provides relief from fever, cold, and acts as an excellent natural sedative.
  • Tea: Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric with warm water to make the tea. This tea offers health benefits and also helps in ensuring radiant skin.

Side Effects

Although not commonly considered to be an allergic substance, turmeric can have certain side effects on the body, particularly when consumed in large quantities. These include the following:

In certain cases, excessive amounts of curcumin consumed in a medicinal capacity have caused heart irregularities. Also, it may slow blood clotting by increasing the effects of anti-clotting medicines. Therefore, people on anticoagulant or blood thinning medication must avoid turmeric. Always speak to a medical professional before adding this powerful substance to your diet or supplement regimen, and remember – everything should be taken in moderation!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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