Turmeric, Curcuma longa, is a golden, aromatic spice that is part of the ginger family. It has been used throughout ancient history in Southeast Asia, China, and India, for cooking and in medicine. Many of the traditional uses for turmeric are still in practice today, though medical research has revealed that it is turmeric’s bioactive compounds, known as curcuminoids, which are responsible for the spice’s therapeutic actions. Regular turmeric powder contains about 3% curcuminoids. Of that, about 77% of turmeric’s curcuminoids content is comprised of curcumin.
Turmeric & Curcumin Benefits
- Supporting a healthy inflammation response: Turmeric and curcumin can help reduce swelling, pain, and stiffness after an injury.
- Providing antioxidant benefits: Curcumin has antioxidant properties, which means it protects your body from damaged caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals. Antioxidants help strengthen the immune system, support heart health, and balance moods. Turmeric increases your body’s antioxidant capacity.
- Boosting brain power: Studies have shown that curcumin can improve memory and attention within just one hour after taking it. Curcumin increases the production of the brain growth hormone Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
- Strengthening heart health: Curcumin has cardioprotective functions. With its combined anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, curcumin supports healthy heart tissue.
- Supporting bone and joint health: Curcumin reduces pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints and supports healthy bones.
Sources of Turmeric and Curcumin
You can introduce turmeric to your diet by adding the spice to meals such as scrambled eggs or frittata, cauliflower cheese, chicken casserole, braised vegetables, and of course, curries. Adding black pepper will enhance the flavor and make the turmeric more bioavailable. A variety of turmeric teas are also available. It is difficult to obtain an effective daily dose of turmeric from your diet alone. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 400 to 600 mg, three times per day. The best way to ensure you’re getting a healthy amount of turmeric and curcumin is to take a supplement.
Turmeric and Curcumin Side Effects
Turmeric and curcumin are generally considered as safe, and there are no reports of serious side effects. Mild side effects may include:
- bloating or gas
- skin rash
Turmeric may slow clot formation. Discontinue use of it for two weeks prior to surgery.12
Turmeric and Curcumin Overdose
There are no specific details on turmeric and curcumin overdose, though there is one report of a person who took a twice-daily dose of more than over 1500 mg and experienced an abnormal heart rhythm.
Not all turmeric supplements are equal. Some contain poor quality turmeric and may be adulterated with fillers such as wheat, barley or rye flour. Some turmeric supplements may contain other unlisted ingredients, which may be toxic. Always make sure that your turmeric and curcumin supplement is manufactured by a reputable company, in a facility that is authorized and inspected by the FDA. That way you can be sure you’re getting the full health benefits of turmeric.