Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Benefits and Side effects
Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati
Turmeric has been used in India since Vedic culture around 4000 years back. It was used as a culinary spice and in religious functions (1). The botanical name is Curcuma longa (turmeric) belongs to family Zingiberaceae native of South Asian region (2).
It is primarily cultivated in China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Nigeria, Australia, West Indies, Peru, Jamaica and some other Caribbean and Latin American countries (3).
Scientific studies prove the antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, and anticancer activities. Turmeric also has the potential to reduce the risk of various malignant disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illness(4).
Nutritional value of Turmeric
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), turmeric contains phytochemicals like alkaloid, saponin, tannin sterol, phytic acid, flavonoid, and phenol. Other components are as follows
|Compound||Amounts per 100 g.|
|Total lipid (Fat)s||3.25 g|
|Dietary Fiber||22.7 g|
|Vitamin A||0 IU|
|Vitamin C||0.7 mg|
|Vitamin E||4.43 mg|
|Vitamin K||13.4 µg|
Health benefits of Turmeric
1. Turmeric has anti-microbial properties
Turmeric contains a polyphenolic compound named curcumin. This curcumin possesses significant antimicrobial property. It is effective against many different types of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites (5).
Studies shows its effectiveness against Escherichia coli, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Bacillus cereus, Micrococcus, Pseudomonas, Aspergillus and Penicillium, Helicobacter and Paracoccidioides (6).
2. Turmeric cures vaginal infection
Turmeric is also very effective against many vaginal infections. It has microbicidal and spermicidal properties thus can be applied externally to cure such problems.
3. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties
Curcumin present in turmeric have anti-inflammatory property (8). It stabilizes the lysosomal membrane and causes the uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation thus have strong oxygen radical scavenging activity.
4. Curcumin present in turmeric has Anti-cancer property
Turmeric possesses anticancer property because of the compound curcumin. Many research studies supported the anticancer properties of turmeric against pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, oral, colorectal, breast carcinoma and even in melanoma cells (9).
5. Turmeric is full of natural Antioxidants
Antioxidants scavenge free radicals by inhibiting their formation or interrupting their propagation (10). Turmeric is a promising source of natural antioxidants (11). As it is rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, tannins, and ascorbic acid.
6. Curcumin present in Turmeric enhances memory
Studies suggested that daily use of turmeric improves memory. Curcumin presents in turmeric helps in decreasing the oxidative stress plaque build-up and inflammation of the brain. This helps the brain from neurodegeneration (12).
Other than these, turmeric is also useful in the treatment of dementia, depression and traumatic brain injury (13).
7. Prevents Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disorder where the death of brain cells causes loss of memory or dementia. Studies prove that curcumin present in turmeric helps in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. It has anti-amyloid and metal iron chelating properties, antioxidation, and lipophilic actions improve the cognitive functions and anti-inflammatory activities of the brain (14).
8. Curcumin keeps heart healthy
Turmeric is rich in polyphenol (curcumin) which has anti-thrombotic, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin lowers the severity of pathological changes and thus protects from damage caused by myocardial infarction. It also improves Ca2+ transport (15).
9.Curcumin lowers cholesterol
Research showed that administration of curcumin decreases the cholesterol levels in the blood. It acts as a hypolipidemic effect by decreasing plasma lipid peroxidation. Not only this curcumin in turmeric also decreases the LDL cholesterol. It and also suppresses the NPC1L1 expression in the intestinal cells inhibits its further uptake (16).
10. Prevents HIV and AIDS
Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral, and antibacterial properties of turmeric help in the treatment of several diseases including HIV-AIDS. A study conducted by the University of Texas highlights that curcumin inhibits the infection and replication of viral genes and prevent the multiplicity of HIV (17).
11. Turmeric protects from Asthma
The study conducted on the animal model shows anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic and antifibrotic properties of turmeric. Thus obstructs the development and deterioration of the allergic airway inflammation. Turmeric reduces inflammation and possible therapeutic option for the treatment of bronchial asthma (18).
12. Turmeric prevents arthritis
Turmeric is a powerful anti-rheumatic herb. It arrested the degenerative changes in the bone and joints. And also helps in the lowering of tenderness and swelling of joint scores (19).
13. Turmeric Protects gastrointestinal disorders
Turmeric is used as a therapeutic agent because of its increased bioavailability in the gastrointestinal tract. It increases bowel motility and carbohydrate colonic fermentation (20).
Irritable bowel syndrome (IrBS) is a chronic problem of the large intestine and its common symptoms are cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. One research study suggested that addition of turmeric reduce IrBS by 50-60 % (21).
14. Healthy Liver
The hepatoprotective activity of turmeric is because of its antioxidant property. Therefore it can be used against different liver diseases, namely, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, drug‐induced hepatotoxicity, liver cancer, biliary cirrhosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis (22).
15. Curcumin present in turmeric has antidiabetic property
Different research studies have shown that curcumin (Turmeric) possessed a potency to decrease blood glucose, improve insulin resistance and ameliorate dyslipidemia in patients with diabetes (23). Because of its benefits and safety, turmeric may prevent the risk of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes (24).
16. Curcumin present inTurmeric delays aging
Curcumin truly is a versatile substance, and the research has even delved into its effects as a powerful antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory agent (25). Turmeric is an efficient inhibitor of NF-kappaB and the mTOR signaling pathway which can, in turn, suppresses the pro-inflammatory state involved in the slow down aging and age-related diseases (26).
The Side effects of Turmeric (Curcumin)
1. Male infertility
Excessive intake of turmeric may cause male infertility. Studies suggested that excess usage curcumin might lower testosterone levels and block sperm function and bacteria/yeast growth. This might eventually lead to infertility (27).
2. Iron deficiency
A research study published in 2014 suggested that long-term curcumin supplementation and a Western-type diet may aggravate iron deficiency (28).
3. Increase cholesterol
High dose of turmeric has a tendency of increasing the total cholesterol level (29). Therefore, turmeric should be taken in moderation.
Healthy Recipes of Turmeric
The average intake of curcumin in India is 2 to 2.5 g per day. This dose of about 0.5 to 2.5 g is essential for a healthy body. And is used as a therapeutic agent (30).
Turmeric can be taken in the form of tea or used as a culinary agent. Turmeric is important for the body as it keeps the body healthy and protects against various bacterial and viral diseases. Following are the ways by which we can take turmeric
1. Turmeric Tea
We can make turmeric tea with some simple steps including boiling water, add turmeric and honey with lemon and milk. Ginger for aroma (Optional).
2. Turmeric Juice
Make a juice of turmeric with pineapple and cucumber.
3. In Salads
Turmeric also used as a salad with vegetables and fresh yogurt.