Skip to content

Turmeric: 19 Proven Properties and Benefits +How to take it, Contraindications

Turmeric 19 Proven Properties and Benefits

You have probably heard or read information about turmeric, a very popular root in Indian culture, especially in cooking and in traditional Ayurvedic medicine , however there is much more to say and learn about it. In this article we address all the topics related to turmeric, its medicinal properties and benefits, types and varieties, recipes, how to take it, possible side effects … and much more.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is the root of the curcuma longa plant . It is a tuberous root whose origin is located in Southeast Asia (India, Indonesia, China), where it has been used since ancient times as a textile dye, culinary condiment, natural remedy, and even as a religious object. Like ginger, cardamom, and other root vegetables , turmeric belongs to the Zingiberaceae family . It is not a coincidence that fresh turmeric bears a strong resemblance to ginger root, however once it is cut we can appreciate its distinctive deep orange color.

In recent decades, turmeric has become a revelation to the Western world, not only for its value as a spice in cooking, but also for its medicinal uses. It is currently considered a super-food , a group that includes other roots such as maca , ginger and wasabi .

What is turmeric good for? Properties, Benefits and Uses

Turmeric has a very interesting nutritional profile , which is responsible for many of its properties. It is rich in minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and in vitamins such as vitamin B6, B3, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin E, among other essential micronutrients.

Nutritional value

2 tablespoons of turmeric powder (4 g) provide approximately1:

  • Calories: 15.58
  • Proteins: 0.34 g
  • Carbohydrates: 2.86 g
  • Total sugars: 0.14 g (very low glycemic index)
  • Fat: 0.43 g
  • Dietary fiber: 0.93 g
  • Vitamina C: 1.14 mg
  • Vitamina B6: 0.08 mg
  • Vitamin B3: 0.23 mg
  • Vitamin E: 0.14 mg
  • Vitamina K: 0.59 mcg
  • Potasio: 111.10 mg
  • Composition: 0.34 mg
  • Calcium: 8.05 mg
  • Magnesio: 8.49 mg
  • Iron: 1.82 mg

Healing properties and health benefits

The medicinal properties of turmeric are due to two key therapeutic components: turmerone and curcumin , the latter being its most important active compound . In fact, on many occasions when talking about the benefits of turmeric, they are actually referring to the properties of curcumin2 , a polyphenol with great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect.

“The actual amount of curcumin present in turmeric varies depending on the species, the growing conditions of the tuber  and the time of cultivation.”

The list of medicinal properties attributed to the consumption of turmeric is quite impressive. In general, it is said that:

  • Combat inflammation and oxidative stress in the body
  • Has analgesic, antibacterial and antifungal action
  • Protects heart health
  • Promotes better control of diabetes
  • Has a neuroprotective and anticancer effect
  • Promotes good health and beauty of the skin and hair, among others

According to the main studies and scientific findings, these are its most relevant health benefits :

1. Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease

According to the results of numerous studies that have investigated the effect of curcumin on the processes that lead to the development of Alzheimer’s, this compound  has shown a very promising horizon in the prevention and treatment of this disease . It is capable of fighting inflammation, oxidative damage, toxicity and the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, which together cause the degradation of nerve cells and Alzheimer’s. It has also been observed that in Asian countries like India, where there is a high consumption of turmeric, the incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer’s are relatively low. This is why experts recommend its regular consumption, either as a spice in food or as a nutritional supplement.3.

2. Relieves symptoms of arthritis

Turmeric has impressive anti-inflammatory properties. So much so that  its effect is capable of modifying the responses of the immune system . A study conducted in 2006 showed that turmeric was very effective in preventing and reducing inflammation in the joints. On the other hand, a 2010 trial involving 100 people claimed that using a turmeric-based supplement (Meriva) could reduce long-term pain caused by arthritis. A pilot study conducted in 2012 to evaluate the function of the product BCM-95 (created from curcumin) found that it reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active arthritis better than diclofenac sodium, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug4.

3. Combat high blood pressure

Frequent consumption of turmeric has been observed to  lower blood cholesterol levels and prevent plaque formation in the arteries, which helps regulate blood pressure and prevents damage to heart cells caused by hypertension. Specifically, turmeric extract has been shown to be very beneficial in dilating and relaxing blood vessels.5.

4. Helps regulate blood glucose levels and control diabetes

The use of turmeric in patients with diabetes is increasingly widespread. A publication of the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism on the anti-hyperglycemic effect and insulin sensitization of turmeric and curcumin, stated that this tuberous root  may provide an alternative to medications that treat and prevent type 2 diabetes . The mechanisms responsible for this benefit are its ability to6 7:

  • Reduce the production of glucose and liver glycogen
  • Stimulate increased glucose uptake
  • Increase AMP kinase activation
  • Suppress the inflammatory state induced by hyperglycemia
  • Stimulate insulin secretion from pancreatic tissues
  • Improve the function of pancreatic cells
  • Increase levels of the insulin receptor β
  • Reduce insulin resistance.

A similar study published by the American Association for Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism also favored curcumin as a potential mechanism of metabolic action against diabetes and obesity.

Despite these incredible findings, it is important to note that turmeric should not be considered as a “definitive treatment”, but rather as a supplement in the alternative control of the disease.

5. Helps reduce and control psoriasis

Recent years have seen a growing number of studies highlighting the potential use of turmeric in the treatment of psoriasis. Researchers have gathered the evidence to support its therapeutic efficacy; for example, the antioxidant properties of curcumin can  reduce oxidative stress in psoriatic lesions , as well as inhibit phosphorylase kinase, an enzyme that is usually elevated in patients with psoriasis. On the other hand, its anti-inflammatory power is very effective in calming pain and other annoying symptoms of the condition.8 9.

6. Serves as complementary therapy for prostate problems

The use of turmeric-based supplements to treat prostate problems in men has shown very positive results, especially in  cases of prostatitis (enlarged prostate) and prostate cancer . Its anti-inflammatory properties not only prevent and stop the progression of the condition, but also alleviate several of the most common discomforts, for example difficulties during urination10.

7. Helps prevent various types of cancer

Scientific research has observed that, thanks to curcumin, turmeric can be a spice with high anti-cancer power . Numerous animal studies suggest that this compound may prevent cancer, especially breast, lung, stomach, liver, and colon cancer, as well as slow its spread, make chemotherapy more effective, and protect healthy cells from damage caused by radiotherapy. All this is due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which interfere with cell signaling in cases of chronic disease11.

Scientists have already begun to study these properties in humans. Different clinical trials are underway to confirm that curcumin can prevent cancer in people with precancerous conditions , and alleviate some of the signs and symptoms caused by medical treatment of this disease.12 13.

8. Calm the symptoms of fibromyalgia

With its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective action, turmeric can be an excellent natural supplement for people with fibromyalgia. It has been proven to  reduce chronic pain in ligaments, muscles and tendons , combat fatigue and sensitivity throughout the body, and enhance the analgesic effect of conventional medications for its treatment.

9. Helps treat rosacea

Turmeric provides several benefits when it comes to managing rosacea, for example it  helps to modulate the body’s immune response, reduces inflammation and protects the skin from damage caused by toxins, UV radiation and possible microbial infections. The regular consumption of turmeric and its topical application in the form of a mask can be one of the best remedies to reduce complications and alleviate the symptoms of this condition.14 15 . Additionally, its use has been shown to promote overall skin health through hydration, regeneration, and wound healing.

10. Acts as an antidepressant

Several investigations have reported that curcumin can be a great ally in the treatment of depression. In a controlled trial, 60 people with depression were divided into three groups; a first group took Prozac, another group took 1 gram of curcumin, and the third group, a combination of Prozac and curcumin. After 6 weeks, curcumin was seen to have generated similar effects to Prozac, with the third group showing the best results16.

Another interesting fact in this regard is that, apparently, curcumin can increase the levels of the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine17.

11 to 19. Other healthy benefits

In addition to the above benefits, it has been observed that thanks to its compounds, turmeric is used to lose weight , whiten  teeth  and prevent gingivitis, combat  insomnia , prevent the formation of clots, prevent cramps in  menstruation , relieve  problems respiratory , improve  liver and digestive function , as well as to prevent episodes of  hemorrhoids .

It may interest you: Turmeric for Weight Loss – How to Take it, Benefits, Dosage, Combinations .

Uses of turmeric in the kitchen

In addition to being a powerful natural remedy, turmeric is a root widely used as a seasoning and culinary colorant in many eastern countries (India, Morocco, Iran, Malaysia, among others), although at present, its use in cooking is not limited to these regions but has spread throughout the world.

Turmeric in rituals, ceremonies and as a sacred decorative object

In India, turmeric is not just a medicinal root or a spice, it represents a whole system of life. It represents the purity of the mind, the fertility of the soil and the healthy body . It also works as a sacred offering for the divinities along with rice, sandalwood, sacred ash, incense sticks, oil, etc. In marriages, turmeric plays a central role in purifying the body and mind of the couple. In many parts of rural India, people decorate the walls of their houses with various pigments, and turmeric is used to recreate the color yellow.

Turmeric as a dye for fabrics

For centuries, turmeric has been used as a textile dye. For Hindus and Buddhists, the color yellow represents the most purified state of existence of divine spirits . Every new function in any home begins with the delivery of a yellow-dyed cloth to the priests. After birth, babies are given yellow-dyed white clothing to go to the temple, while priests wear turmeric-dyed clothing to perform rituals and ceremonies.

How do you take turmeric? How much should I take?

The traditional way to consume turmeric is, of course, to use it as a seasoning in recipes and drinks, but it is also available as a supplement (turmeric in capsules, pills, extract). Many people are interested in the properties of this tuberous root, but they do not know how they should take it to do it safely , or what is the ideal dose of turmeric to obtain all the benefits.

It is considered that a person can consume approximately 1.5 to 3 grams of turmeric per day .

To see all the details on how to consume turmeric ( to lose weight , fight inflammation, lower cholesterol, promote digestion, etc. ), what is the correct dose, what to do to increase the absorption of curcumin and why it is recommended combine it with black pepper , keep reading on How to Take Turmeric? Forms of Consumption (Root, Tea, Supplements) .

Does turmeric have any contraindications or side effects?

Turmeric can be safely used as a condiment, medicinal supplement, or skin treatment for months. It generally does not cause adverse symptoms, however that does not prevent some people from experiencing side effects , such as an upset stomach, nausea, dizziness or diarrhea, especially if they have taken very high doses of the spice.

It is important to be informed about the possible contraindications of turmeric , as well as to proceed with caution in case of:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Hormone-sensitive conditions
  • Infertility
  • Lack of iron
  • Surgeries
  • Allergies
  • Use in combination with medications (for diabetes, high blood pressure, blood clotting disorders, etc.)

Find out all the details about this topic in What Contraindications and Side Effects does Turmeric have?

Turmeric varieties

5 main varieties of turmeric are grown in India . Most of them are yellow-orange in color, but there are also white and black turmeric roots, although they are less popular and their cultivation is not very wide.

  1. The first variety is turmeric from curcuma longa . This is the root that is commonly used in cooking and is also the fundamental ingredient in making curry powder. It is arguably the most popular type of turmeric globally.
  2. Another variety is Kasturi Manjal turmeric , well known for its good smell and bitter taste. It is usually avoided when cooking, but it is widely used as a cosmetic and natural beauty treatment for the skin.
  3. The third variety is very similar to Curry Manjal in color, but the round and elongated shape of the root is different (similar to a miniature umbrella). It is widely used in ceremonies and rituals; it is considered as something very sacred and people in India keep it at home as part of their divine images.
  4. For its part, Kari Manjal or black turmeric , is a rare variety and its roots are slightly black. Its main use is seen in Ayurvedic medicine.
  5. The fifth variety of turmeric is known as Mara Manjal or Tree Manjal ; it is a type of vine extremely useful in the preparation of some very special medicines. This variety is said to be disappearing.

Note: Most of the turmeric comes from two places in India: Alleppey and Madras. Experts recommend consuming turmeric sourced from Alleppey because it contains twice as much curcumin as the varieties grown in Madras.

Frequent questions

How is turmeric tea prepared and what is it used for?

Turmeric tea, made from grated turmeric root or pure powder , is considered one of the most effective ways to consume the spice. Its preparation is very simple, as we explain below:

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground, grated, or powdered turmeric.
  • Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Then strain the tea into a container and let it cool for another 5 minutes.

Many people prefer to add additional ingredients to their turmeric tea to enhance the taste or promote absorption. The most common additives include honey (to sweeten and provide antimicrobial properties), whole milk, cream, almond milk, coconut milk, coconut oil or ghee (to improve curcumin absorption), black pepper (to improve curcumin absorption and provide spicy flavor), lemon, lime or ginger (improve antioxidant and antimicrobial properties). Plus; Turmeric Tea: Benefits, Properties, Contraindications, Dosage, Uses .

How can I prepare ground turmeric?

Turmeric powder can be made at home if you have the raw turmeric root. You just have to follow these steps:

  • Rinse and remove all dirt that may be trapped around each rhizome. Scrub with a vegetable brush if necessary.
  • Put to boil the roots in water fresh until they are tender.
  • Remove them from the water and let them cool to cut them into small pieces . Next, spread the turmeric fragments on a baking sheet, or in a dehydrator.
  • Bake for 1-3 hours, or until dry , almost crumbly. (Some people prefer to let them air dry for several days)
  • Place the dried roots in a blender to process and get the powder. The consistency of the resulting turmeric powder depends on taste, but is usually left as fine as possible.

This homemade turmeric powder can keep good for more than a year as long as it is stored in an airtight container.

Note : Try to buy organic turmeric from reputable sources, choosing large, smooth, mold-free roots.

Where should I buy turmeric?

Before buying turmeric, you should make sure that it comes from a good source . It basically means that you should check if it is a genuine , organic turmeric , not genetically modified, not irradiated and that has been tested for heavy metals or other contaminants.

Sometimes this can be difficult to know for sure, and we end up buying low-quality products. However, we can always look at several aspects so as not to make mistakes and get the best turmeric .

How to identify genuine organic turmeric?

Look for the “certified organic” seal.

  • This is the easiest step: see if the product has been certified “organic” by a well-known and reputable third-party agency. This seal may vary depending on the agency in question, for example USDA in the United States, Australian Certified Organic, NASAA Certified Organic in Asutralia, etc. The reputation of the certification institute matters as much as the certification itself.

If possible, buy from a source well known to you.

  • It may be the case that the product is not certified but is still organic, for example when turmeric is grown on a nearby farm and you know that its cultivation is organic.

Avoid powders and supplements that contain additives and fillers.

Avoid turmeric capsules or pills that contain magnesium stearate (also known as stearic acid) and dibasic calcium phosphate (DCP). They are potentially toxic substances.

The supplement capsules should be vegetable-based, avoid those that are gelatin-based.

What could be a good substitute for turmeric in the kitchen?

Turmeric has a unique taste , almost impossible to reproduce. Most cooks will probably agree that there is no perfect substitute for this root in the world of spices. However, there are several options that help us obtain that special touch in our recipes.

Some people recommend saffron as the best substitute for turmeric , but in reality its similarity lies in the color, not the taste. Saffron has an earthy aroma and a much stronger flavor than turmeric, so a small amount is enough if used.

Other substitute suggestions are mustard powder , ginger , cumin seeds, achiote seeds, and curry powder .

What other names is turmeric known by?

Turmeric is also known as curcuma longa, yellow root, Indian saffron, bighorn saffron, chick, yuquilla, turmeric, ginger, cholon stick, chuncho stick, stew, stick .

Turmeric in English is written turmeric .

How is your plant? How can I cultivate it?

Curcuma longa is a tropical perennial very close to ginger (Zingiberaceae family). Generally grows 60-100 cm tall; Its bright green, lily-like leaves grow in rows forming a long false stem . Pale yellow flowers grow between these conical clusters . The turmeric plant thrives in the tropics and subtropics as it requires a warm, humid climate with fairly light soil. Its propagation occurs by dividing the rhizome, no seeds are needed (turmeric does not produce seeds for propagation).

To grow your own plant, you can start with a small piece of a fresh rhizome that you bought from a nursery or that was given to you by another gardener. Choose a location that is exposed to the morning sun, but with partial shade during the afternoon. The soil must be loose and moist; it is very important to keep the soil moist. It is recommended to plant the root section in spring, to a depth of 4 inches. If you are sowing it in a garden container, a depth of 1 to 2 inches will suffice; This must be at least 12 inches wide and the same deep for the plant to grow.

Turmeric roots can be dug in late fall or early winter, when this plant is dormant. Be aware that the turmeric plant can spoil or die if temperatures drop below 50 F (10 C). It is very common for it to die during the winter and reappear in the spring.

What does turmeric taste like?

Turmeric root has a very interesting taste and aroma. Its flavor is powerful, spicy and warm, with a bitter touch . Its mild fragrance is reminiscent of a mix between orange and ginger.

How to store turmeric powder to extend its shelf life?

Since this seasoning is very susceptible to light , it is usually stored in airtight containers. Turmeric will start to lose its potency after about 6 months, or even sooner if it’s exposed to light and / or heat. Store in a cool, dark place .

Is it true that turmeric stains teeth?

Many people believe that turmeric can stain their teeth due to the intense yellow color of this root, however this is not true. On the contrary, it can help you whiten them in the long run . A very popular recipe for teeth whitening includes 2 parts of turmeric powder mixed with 1 part of coconut oil and 1 part of baking soda. The ingredients are mixed to form a paste and then a generous amount is placed on the toothbrush; You should brush normally for 2 minutes and finally rinse with plenty of water. To see best results it is necessary to repeat the procedure on a regular basis, always making sure to use authentic and pure turmeric powder.

Turmeric defiles the nails , the skin (temporarily), the clothes and towels , the dishes , the sink and sink , the countertops .