I am sure you have heard of turmeric! It is quickly gaining popularity as one of the new and greatest supplements around! But do you know what turmeric is good for in your body?
The active components of turmeric are curcumin and curcuminoids, and is what gives turmeric it’s therapeutic properties. Curcumin is widely known for it’s very strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some benefits of turmeric are: it lessens inflammation, improves memory, lessens pain, fights free radicals, helps prevent heart disease, helps with depression, and improves brain function. Turmeric is a yellow colored spice that comes from the root of the curcuma longa plant in the ginger family. It is native to Southeast Asia and has been used in China and India for it’s therapeutic properties for thousands of years. The people of India have traditionally used turmeric as a spice in food. Therapeutically, it has been used to help with skin disorders, upper respiratory tract, joint, and digestive system disorders. In this post, I will unpack what turmeric is good for in your body. Spoiler alert- it’s a lot, so get comfy!
What Turmeric is Good For
Inflammation in the Body:
It is well documented that turmeric is good at reducing inflammation in the body. While there are many causes of inflammation in the body, ultimately inflammation is one way your body’s immune system responds to harmful stimuli and conditions. Some of these conditions can be caused by infections, environmental or food allergies, tissue damage, smoking, autoimmune disease, etc. When it comes to inflammation, there are two types:
1) Acute – meaning it lasts only a short time.
2) Chronic – which is when inflammation persists for a long time. Inflammation that has become chronic is what contributes to conditions like obesity, arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, pancreatitis, and some types of cancer.
There are many studies which have shown that the curcuminoids in turmeric significantly reduce inflammation. These therapeutic benefits impact inflammation by regulating inflammatory signal pathways and inhibiting the production of inflammatory mediators in the body.
Tumeric has been shown to be good at supporting heart health. Heart disease is considered one of the highest killers in the world. This is often attributed to poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, and diabetes. While most approaches to heart disease are aimed at curing advanced disorders, there are preventive steps we can take. Recent studies show that the curcumin in tumeric could play a multi-targeted role in reducing cardiovascular disease. This is because curcumin helps reduce inflammation in the body and allows body tissue to heal and recover lost functions over time. This includes the heart. Curcumin has also been shown to reduce the impact of high glucose and normalize blood lipid profiles. One of the defining features people with high glucose have is elevated lipid panels. Particularly elevations in triglycerides, LDL, and reductions in HDL cholesterol. Curcumin supplementation has been shown to favorably benefit lipid profiles. One study even showed that supplementing with a curcumin-bioperine formulation resulted in reductions in LDL and total cholesterol, reductions in triglycerides, and increases in HDL cholesterol. It achieves these benefits by influencing several pathways that cholesterol reaches the bloodstream. This includes removal of cholesterol in the liver and other tissues throughout the body, as well as transporting cholesterol out of cells. All of these effects aid in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Memory loss and brain fog can be very frustrating. We all have known someone who started having difficulty remembering new events, or recalling past memories. It may have started slowly over time, or seemingly happened overnight. Lack of mental clarity or issues related to memory are often due to reduced brain function. Maintaining optimal brain function should be a priority. When it comes to protecting the brain, evidence suggests that curcumin, which is in turmeric, may significantly benefit brain health and slow cognitive decline. The extent to which it helps protect the brain is mostly dependent on the cause of the symptoms you are experiencing. Currently, there are several studies that suggest curcumin may help improve or prevent neurological conditions, such as alzheimer’s and dementia. Because curcumin has lipid-like characteristics, it has the ability to pass the blood brain barrier once it enters the blood stream. This allows the curcuminoids to interact directly with brain tissue. All of this furthers the suggestion that curcumin may have the unique ability to boost memory function, reduce brain fog, and enhance cognition.
Stress can take a major toll on the body, and can also lead to depression and anxiety. It has even been shown that stress can lead to inflammation, which may increase the risk of problems like heart disease. Stress can be difficult to manage, and often times a person may not even be aware that they are struggling with stress. Fortunately, taking turmeric has been shown to promote a resistance to chronic stress and anxiety like behavior in clinical trials. In one study, it was even shown to have effects similar to the antidepressant imipramine. While more research is needed, taking turmeric before experiencing a stress inducing environment may prove beneficial at lowering your stress level. It has even been shown that having a diet enriched with curcumin may help prevent feelings of social avoidance and other symptoms of anxiety.
When it comes to fighting depression, you may never think of turmeric as being an option to help you with this fight. However, turmeric has been shown to be a good natural option to help support people with depression. Interest is growing in alternative therapeutic medications for depression. This is partly because current depression medications appear limited. Fortunately, current studies show that the curcumin in turmeric has potential to protect brain function, as well as the possibility of using it to help treat depression. For example, one study showed that curcumin could actually help some current antidepressants work better. Although research into how curcumin works to influence depression is ongoing, what is known is there are numerous ways curcumin affects the areas of the body that influence depression. For example, one study showed that curcumin is able to increase serotonin and dopamine. (These are neurotransmitters your body produces to stabilize moods, feelings of well-being, and overall happiness.) This means there is hope that curcumin could potentially be used to assist with depression treatments in the future. While there are several factors that can cause depression, recent studies have shown a link between chronic inflammation and depression. Therefore, managing inflammation in the body could play a big role in keeping depression under control. If you struggle with depression, adding turmeric to your daily routine may further help you with this.
Ways to Take Turmeric
Now that we have gone over what turmeric is good for, you may be thinking: I need some turmeric! While turmeric is available in various forms, the most common ways people take turmeric is by adding it to food, taking capsules, or in powder form added to liquids. No matter how you decide to take turmeric, the most important thing to remember is that you want your body to absorb it. If your body cannot absorb the turmeric, it cannot reap any potential benefits. This absorption is known as bioavailability and is how much of a supplement actually reaches your body’s circulation system. Some supplement manufacturers will add ingredients to aid absorption. Otherwise, the amount of curcumin you absorb will be very little, because curcumin has a difficult time passing the gut barrier and into the bloodstream. Because of this, it is important to combine it with other ingredients like black pepper or a whole food fat. Since curcumin is fat-soluble, it is best to take turmeric with a fatty meal, whole or reduced fat milk, yogurt, or seed oils to aid in curcumin absorption. Another way to support absorption is by taking it with black pepper. Black pepper can make curcumin more effective due to the active ingredient peperine. It has even been found to increase absorption of curcumin by 2000% and aid in crossing the digestive tract and into the blood stream.
Adding Tumeric to Food:
Even though it hasn’t been studied as much as the other forms of turmeric, adding turmeric to food is the traditional method of consuming it. This has been done throughout history in several countries that have reaped the benefits of doing so. The benefits noticed from adding turmeric to food are what began the interest in the subject. Even though this method has some benefits, it doesn’t mean it is without drawbacks. For example, it is difficult to determine the amount of turmeric you are consuming when it is added to foods. Also, companies usually don’t label the amount of curcumin on spice product labels. This means the amount of curcumin can vary from product to product, and it’s potential effects could also be unpredictable.
Taking Turmeric in a Capsule Form:
Taking a capsule can be easy and convenient. One of the benefits of capsules is that you can get the exact dosage for what you are taking. However, depending on the product, some dry forms of cumin may not be as easily absorbed in the body. When taking turmeric in supplement form, you can identify the better products if they have other proper ingredients added to help with absorption. Turmeric supplements can be purchased online or at health food stores. When purchasing supplements, it’s important to consider the source, as not all supplements are created equally. What matters the most is how much curcumin is in the supplement, preferably over 90%, and the purity of the product. It is important to be familiar with the manufacturer of the supplement when using a dietary supplement.
Taking Tumeric As a Drink:
One of the most effective ways to take turmeric is by mixing it into a drink. Usually this is through powder form, and allows you to make it in a higher concentration. This method will also give you more flexibility by allowing you to add additional ingredients to boost absorption yourself. One of the drawbacks of this method is that it is messier. Powder can be difficult to mix and will stain many surfaces, so you will want to be careful. If you add certain essential oils, like black pepper, it will further boost the therapeutic benefits. When you consume essential oils, it is important to only use those labeled for internal use. The essential oils we trust the most for internal use is the Young Living vitality line. We have used them for years with great results. If you would like to see more about Young Living’s Vitality Line, you can check them out here.
If you believe taking turmeric may be beneficial for you, be sure to take it in a way that your body can absorb and utilize. Look for a high quality supplement with bioavailable ingredients, or take them with your supplement. If you are looking for a high quality and bioavailable supplement, we use both the Young Living Golden Turmeric powder supplement and the Young Living Agilease turmeric supplement capsule. Both of these products have been enhanced to increase curcumin absorption in the body. I share my in-depth thoughts on both of these products in my Turmeric Supplements post, which can be viewed here. Bottom line, turmeric can support our bodies in so many ways. Both physically and mentally! It is an amazing supplement that has benefited many and is gaining popularity with great reason.
*As always, it is important to speak with your doctor before starting any new supplements or medication. Never stop taking any medication you are currently on before talking with your doctor first.