Turmeric is a commonly used spice around the world, especially in Asia. It is produced by the roots of the turmeric plant. It is available in almost every kitchen in Asia.
Curcumin is the main pigment found in turmeric. This natural product has been investigated extensively to know the possible implications.1
Turmeric is being used for centuries in Asian cuisine, ayurvedic medicine, Chinese traditional medicine, and for other industrial purposes.
1. Uses of Turmeric
Plenty of research has been done to validate scientifically the usage of turmeric over centuries. The following are a few applications of turmeric backed by research.
1.1 Traditional Medicinal Use
The use of turmeric as medicine in Asia is not new. It has been part of every house. The Curcumin found in turmeric has shown many medicinal properties. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric.
1.2 Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation is a process by which our body fights against invading pathogens. This is the response of the body in almost all diseases. This process produces pain and swelling in the affected area. The goal of the anti-inflammatory drugs is to reduce these two by-products of inflammation.
Curcumin has proven to be a strong anti-inflammatory product. Studies suggest that it can be used for inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, and chronic anterior uveitis, as well as certain types of cancer.2
It has shown promising and safe results, also proven its action on inflammation producing molecules.3
1.3 Anti- Oxidant Properties
The nasty effect of free radicals on the cell is a well-known phenomenon.
Free Radicals can damage cellular DNA, proteins, cell membrane and can affect the body in various harmful ways.4
Curcumin is a strong anti-oxidant and neutralizes the effect of free radicals in the body. It has shown increased resistance to cellular oxidative damage.5
1.4 Anti- Microbial Effect
Turmeric has shown its effectiveness against many microbes.
It acts as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and against the cultures of parasites.
In an experimental study in guinea pigs, turmeric oil was applied to ringworm lesions on the skin surface for 7 days. The condition improved 2 to 5 days after the application.6
Curcumin has also found to be active against some protozoans like Plasmodium falciparum and Leishmania major. 7
1.5 Anti Diabetic Properties
A Strong link of oxidative damage and increased blood sugar has been found. A study conducted in rats has suggested that turmeric is somewhat beneficial in the reduction of blood sugar.8
Another study has found that Curcumin is beneficial in galactose induced cataract in rats. 9
1.6 Anti Cancer Effect
The effect of turmeric as an anti-mutation remedy has been extensively researched. It has been found acting against mutation in many studies. It has shown to reduce the metastatic activity of melanoma increasing the life span of the patients.10
Another study found the anti-carcinogenic properties of the turmeric in breast cancer. Studies pointed towards the growth inhibitory effect of Curcumin on the breast cancer cells. It suggested that turmeric can be a potential anti-proliferative natural remedy with strong anti-cancer properties.11
1.7 Benefits in Cardiovascular Diseases
Heart diseases are the leading cause of death around the world.12
The burden on the health care system for cardiovascular disease is overwhelming. With changing and lazy lifestyles, these diseases will be on the rise.
Turmeric prevents cardiovascular disease by;
- Lowering blood cholesterol
- Lowering Triglycerides
- Decreasing the effect of low-density lipids (LDL) 13
The role of endothelial damage related to heart disease is a well-established fact. Studies have found that Curcumin has a beneficial effect on endothelial cells.14
Anti-platelet aggregation is one of the desired goals in treating cardiovascular diseases. Multiple drugs are given to achieve this function. A study has found the anti-platelet aggregation properties of Curcumin as it interferes with the formation of thromboxane, a vital compound for platelet aggregation.15
1.8 Improving Liver Function
Turmeric has shown to prevent the liver from many harmful compounds. This effect of turmeric is mainly due to its anti-oxidant properties and lowering the production of inflammatory molecules. A study has discussed the possible prevention of cholelithiasis by a product of Curcumin.16
1.9 Effect on Joint Diseases- Arthritis
Arthritis is a painful condition of joints. It is mainly due to inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric help to reduce pain and inflammation due to arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a little different type of arthritis. A study says that Curcumin is also beneficial in the reduction of inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients. 17
Another study investigated the effect of turmeric with soy-phosphatidylcholine on osteoarthritis, a common form of arthritis and produced the evidence of improved function of joint with less inflammation.18
1.10 Management of Depression
The treatment of depression has always posed a challenge to the psychiatrist. A study investigated the use of turmeric with the use of a well-known drug and found out that it had similar effects as that drug. The group that benefited the most was using both the drug and the turmeric. 19
1.11 Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer disease is a neurological disorder leading to dementia and decreased function of the individual. It is caused by the degeneration of neurons in the brain.
A study has shown Curcumin effect on the number of possible causes of Alzheimer’s disease and discussed the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effect, and effect on Beta-Amyloid Plaques by Curcumin. All these pointed towards the beneficial effect of Curcumin in Alzheimer’s disease but this should be investigated further.20
1.12 Anti-Aging Effect
Who doesn’t want to look young? Anti- Aging products are of high demand these days and it’s a billion-dollar industry. If a home remedy is helping in the anti-aging effect, this can be of great help.
Various studies have related the Curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the aging process. These studies have found the positive effect of Curcumin in the delay of aging. 21, 22
1.13 Dental Use of Turmeric
There are various uses of turmeric resolving multiple dental problems
Dental Pain: Anti-inflammatory action of turmeric has a relieving effect on dental pain. It eliminates swelling and other signs of inflammation.23
Mouth Wash: A study compared the use of chlorhexidine with the use of turmeric mouth wash. Chlorhexidine is a commonly used mouth wash frequently advised by dentists all around the world. It was found that the plaque cleaning effect of both was comparable. 24
Pit and Fissure sealant: The deep parts on molars and premolar teeth are called pit and fissure. These are the retentive sites for the bacteria to colonize. The bacteria then invade the tooth structure by acid production and the tooth become carious. Pits and fissure sealant seal this area eliminating the retentive sites for microbes preventing caries at first place.
Turmeric has been used along with other resins in the composition of pits and fissure sealants.25
Periodontal problems: The periodontal tissue surrounds the teeth and is the main tissue responsible for the retention of teeth in the jaw bone. Any disease process that leads to inflammation of periodontal tissue may ultimately result in the loss of teeth.
Topical Application of the turmeric paste made of salt, turmeric and mustard oil has shown great results in improving periodontal health.25
Oral Pre-cancerous lesions: Oral sub-mucous fibrosis is a disease of the oral cavity that can convert to oral cancer. It occurs mainly due to betel nut chewing and is relatively common in the sub-continent. 26
Turmeric oil has shown improvement in conditions like oral sub-mucous fibrosis. The burning sensation and pain were relieved in the patients.27
1.14 Gastric Uses
Gastric Ulcers are a relatively common problem and affect a number of people. It causes stomach pain, irritation, and other discomforts.
A study of 25 patients with gastric ulcers was conducted. They were given 600 mg turmeric powder 5 times a day. Ulcers healed in 48 % of patients after 4 weeks which rose to 76 % after 12 weeks. 28
1.15 Usage in Cuisine
Asian, especially Indian cuisine isn’t complete without the use of turmeric. You name the popular dish, and the turmeric is the part of that. Some popular examples are chicken tikka, butter chicken, chicken biryani, chicken karahi, and many uncountable more.
Turmeric is a cheap, easily available, non- toxic, and greatly beneficial herb that can be part of every kitchen around the world.
It has shown beneficial effects on conditions like Inflammation, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Cancers, and various other diseases.
The therapeutic effects with almost negligible side effects make it a must household remedy for various problems.
Priyadarsini, KI (2014). "The chemistry of Curcumin: from extraction to therapeutic agent". Molecules. 19 (12): 20091–112. doi:10.3390/molecules191220091. PMC 6270789. PMID 25470276.
- Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of Curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research [published correction appears in Altern Med Rev. 2009 Sep;14(3):277]. Altern Med Rev. 2009;14(2):141‐153.
- Chainani-Wu N. Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of Curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa). J Altern Complement Med. 2003;9(1):161‐168. doi:10.1089/107555303321223035
- Wu, Defeng, and Arthur I Cederbaum. “Alcohol, oxidative stress, and free radical damage.” Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism vol. 27,4 (2003): 277-84.
- Motterlini, Roberto, et al. "Curcumin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, induces heme oxygenase-1 and protects endothelial cells against oxidative stress." Free Radical Biology and Medicine 28.8 (2000): 1303-1312.
- Apisariyakul A, Vanittanakom N, Buddhasukh D. Antifungal activity of turmeric oil extracted from Curcuma longa (Zingiberaceae). J Ethnopharmacol. 1995;49(3):163‐169. doi:10.1016/0378-8741(95)01320-2
- Rasmussen HB, Christensen SB, Kvist LP, Karazmi A. A simple and efficient separation of the Curcumins, the antiprotozoal constituents of Curcuma longa. Planta Med. 2000;66(4):396‐398. doi:10.1055/s-2000-8533
- Arun N, Nalini N. Efficacy of turmeric on blood sugar and polyol pathway in diabetic albino rats. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2002;57(1):41‐52. doi:10.1023/a:1013106527829
- Suryanarayana P, Krishnaswamy K, Reddy GB. Effect of Curcumin on galactose-induced cataractogenesis in rats. Mol Vis. 2003;9:223‐230. Published 2003 Jun 9.
- Menon LG, Kuttan R, Kuttan G. Anti-metastatic activity of Curcumin and catechin. Cancer Lett. 1999;141(1-2):159‐165. doi:10.1016/s0304-3835(99)00098-1
- Mehta K, Pantazis P, McQueen T, Aggarwal BB. Antiproliferative effect of Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) against human breast tumor cell lines. Anticancer Drugs. 1997;8(5):470‐481. doi:10.1097/00001813-199706000-00010
- The top 10 causes of death- World Health Organization- https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death
- Ramírez-Tortosa MC, Mesa MD, Aguilera MC, et al. Oral administration of a turmeric extract inhibits LDL oxidation and has hypocholesterolemic effects in rabbits with experimental atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis. 1999;147(2):371‐378. doi:10.1016/s0021-9150(99)00207-5
- Akazawa N, Choi Y, Miyaki A, et al. Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women. Nutr Res. 2012;32(10):795‐799. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2012.09.002
- Srivastava R, Puri V, Srimal RC, Dhawan BN. Effect of Curcumin on platelet aggregation and vascular prostacyclin synthesis. Arzneimittelforschung. 1986;36(4):715‐717.
- Ramprasad, C. "Curcuma logna and bile secretion-Quantitative changes in the bile constituents induced by sodium Curcuminate." J. Sci. Industr. Res. 16 (1957): 108-110
- Chandran B, Goel A. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of Curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012;26(11):1719‐1725. doi:10.1002/ptr.4639
- Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Dugall M, et al. Product-evaluation registry of Meriva®, a Curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, for the complementary management of osteoarthritis. Panminerva Med. 2010;52(2 Suppl 1):55‐62.
- Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, Trivedi J, et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014;28(4):579‐585. doi:10.1002/ptr.5025
- Mishra, Shrikant, and Kalpana Palanivelu. “The effect of Curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer's disease: An overview.” Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology vol. 11,1 (2008): 13-9. doi:10.4103/0972-2327.40220
- Sikora E, Scapagnini G, Barbagallo M. Curcumin, inflammation, ageing and age-related diseases. Immun Ageing. 2010;7(1):1. Published 2010 Jan 17. doi:10.1186/1742-4933-7-1
- Sikora E, Bielak-Zmijewska A, Mosieniak G, Piwocka K. The promise of slow down ageing may come from Curcumin. Curr Pharm Des. 2010;16(7):884‐892. doi:10.2174/138161210790883507
- Cikrikci, Simay, Erkan Mozioglu, and Hasibe Yilmaz. "Biological activity of Curcuminoids isolated from Curcuma longa." Records of Natural Products 2.1 (2008): 19.
- Waghmare PF, Chaudhari AU, Karhadkar VM, Jamkhande AS. Comparative evaluation of turmeric and chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash in prevention of plaque formation and gingivitis: a clinical and microbiological study. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2011;12(4):221‐224. Published 2011 Jul 1. doi:10.5005/jp-journals-10024-1038
- Nagpal, Monika, and Shaveta Sood. “Role of Curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview.” Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine vol. 4,1 (2013): 3-7. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.107253
- Cox SC, Walker DM. Oral submucous fibrosis. A review. Aust Dent J. 1996;41(5):294‐299. doi:10.1111/j.1834-7819.1996.tb03136.x
- Das, Deepa A., Anita Balan, and K. T. Sreelatha. "Comparative study of the efficacy of Curcumin and turmeric oil as chemopreventive agents in oral submucous fibrosis: A clinical and histopathological evaluation." Journal of indian academy of oral medicine and radiology 22.2 (2010): 88.
- Prucksunand C, Indrasukhsri B, Leethochawalit M, Hungspreugs K. Phase II clinical trial on effect of the long turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn) on healing of peptic ulcer. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2001;32(1):208‐215.