Carrie Gabriel, MS, RDN, explains a variety of turmeric benefits for your health including anti-inflammatory effects for your body, brain, and skin.
For something that’s been around for thousands of years, it’s really only quite recently that this potent superfood has exploded in popularity. Perhaps it’s in part due to its bright yellow hue. Most important, however, is its major anti-inflammatory properties. Because of its numerous benefits, we’ll explore this superfood craze a little more thoroughly.
What Is turmeric?
Turmeric has been used medicinally for over 4,500 years. It’s part of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) along with ginger and cardamom and is native to India and Southeast Asia. As a result, it’s a staple in Ayurvedic medicine where it’s used to heal wounds, blemishes, smallpox, serious pain, and fatigue. Due to its vibrant color, it’s also a traditional method for dyeing clothing.
Pro Tip: Wear gloves if you cook with fresh turmeric root! It can stain, otherwise.
The main nutrients that make turmeric valuable are:
- vitamin B6
- vitamin C
Among these, curcumin is the most notorious. Curcumin is one of three curcuminoids found in turmeric. Curcuminoids are the active compounds in turmeric. Curcumin in particular is a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
To ensure you get the nutritional benefits of curcumin, be sure to pair turmeric with black pepper. Black pepper contains piperine, which gives black pepper its pungency. Piperine can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000 times!
Turmeric Benefits For Health & Skin
The health benefits turmeric provides are plentiful.
First, as we’ve noted, it’s a great anti-inflammatory aid. Why? Researchers report that curcumin blocks the activation of inflammatory mediators. In one trial, people who took curcumin three times a day for six weeks reported less joint pain and improved physical function than those who took a placebo. The same users also had a reduction in overall oxidative stress.
Supports Brain Health
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help to counter the effects of damaging free radicals that, among other side effects, can affect our neurons. Studies show curcumin to lower levels of free radicals and even improve neurological function. Furthermore, studies show curcumin may even ease feelings of sadness by relieving oxidative stress in the brain.
In a systematic review, researchers found several studies to support improvements in skin treated with turmeric. The abstract authors write, “there is early evidence that turmeric/curcumin products and supplements, both oral and topical, may provide therapeutic benefits for skin health.” The studies focused on a range of skin conditions from breakouts to dryness to aging.
Turmeric Mask for Skin
You can experiment with turmeric benefits for your skin at home by applying a DIY turmeric mask. For example, try mixing a half teaspoon with yogurt or honey.
Pro Tip: Test any turmeric mask concentrations on your hand to make sure it won’t stain before applying to your face.
Alternatively, you can try a turmeric scrub with water and lemon juice to reduce excess oil secretion and help clear skin.
How to Get More Turmeric In Your Diet
Try incorporating turmeric into your daily diet by seasoning proteins with turmeric and black pepper. Alternatively, you can toss raw vegetables with it before roasting for more flavor. Also, curries are a delicious option to incorporate turmeric into.
Otherwise, for a soothing treat, try our very own golden milk recipe.
Finally, if you don’t enjoy the taste of turmeric or find it hard to incorporate often enough, consider taking a turmeric supplement. Look for one that contains a high concentration of curcumin and pairs with other antioxidants for maximum effect.