What Are the Health Benefits of Turmeric
When you use turmeric, you might be adding a bright, yellow-orange touch to your favorite curries or adding a little zing to your morning omelet. However, this spice is more than just a bright addition to your favorite foods: it’s also been purported to ease depression, fight cancer, and more. Learn what turmeric can—and can’t—do for your health.
1. Fight Inflammation
Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory compound, suggesting it may help reduce swelling, pain, and muscle spasms. However, there are few studies on the effects of turmeric on chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. While studies have investigated the effects of turmeric on acute inflammation, results have been mixed.
2. Stop the Growth of Cancer Cells
Animal studies indicate that curcumin—an antioxidant found in turmeric — has the potential to prevent or treat many types of cancers, including breast, liver, lung, brain, and stomach cancer. Many studies show a correlation between curcumin intake and reduced cancer risk, but few have shown that curcumin can prevent or treat cancer.
3. Reduce Blood Sugar and Cholesterol
Studies indicate that turmeric may reduce blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol levels. In one study published in the Journal of Natural Remedies, taking 90 milligrams daily of a turmeric extract for 90 days decreased fasting blood sugar levels, fasting insulin levels, and total cholesterol levels in those with type 2 diabetes. However, other studies have found that turmeric does not affect the blood sugar levels of healthy individuals.
4. Treat Skin Conditions
With numerous anti-inflammatory compounds, turmeric may play a role in treating skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Turmeric preparations may be safer than topical steroids. However, more studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of turmeric in treating these skin conditions.
5. Fight Off Viruses
Turmeric might hold promise as an antiviral agent because of its anti-inflammatory properties. In studies, turmeric has been found to inhibit the growth of the viruses that cause herpes and HIV. However, more studies are needed to confirm turmeric as a preventive or treatment for these viral infections.
6. Relieve Arthritis
Turmeric contains three compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties: arthocin, arthocin B, and arthocin C. These compounds have been studied most extensively in animal models of arthritis and have shown promising results. However, human studies investigating the effects of turmeric on arthritis are lacking.
7. Lower Bad Cholesterol
Interest in the potential health benefits of turmeric has led researchers to study how it might affect cholesterol. In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that taking a turmeric supplement could decrease LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which is important for reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, turmeric did not affect HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels in this and other studies.
Although studies indicate that turmeric might have some benefits, especially with anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties, it is unclear whether these properties extend to humans. While some studies show turmeric can relieve pain and reduce inflammation, it remains to be seen whether it can effectively treat or prevent any conditions.
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