Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Health Benefits and Side effects

Turmeric health benefits


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 the family Zingiberaceae native of the South Asian region (2).
 Scientific studies prove the following turmeric health benefits like antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, and anticancer activities.

Turmeric also has the potential to reduce the risk of various malignant diseases, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illness (3).

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 (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.
Energy 312 kcal
Protein 9.68 g
Total lipid (Fat)s 3.25 g
Carbohydrates 67.14 g
Dietary Fiber 22.7 g
Sugar 3.21 g
Niacin 1.35 g
Folates 3 µg
Vitamin A 0 IU
Vitamin C 0.7 mg
Vitamin E 4.43 mg
Vitamin K 13.4 µg
Calcium 168 mg
Iron 55 mg
Magnesium 208 mg
Phosphorous 299 mg
Zinc 4.50 mg
Sodium 27 mg
Potassium 2080 mg

Turmeric health benefits

1. Anti-microbial properties of turmeric

Turmeric contains a polyphenolic compound named curcumin. This curcumin possesses significant antimicrobial properties. It is effective against many different types of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites (5).
Studies show its effectiveness against Escherichia coli, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Bacillus cereus, Micrococcus, Pseudomonas, Aspergillus and Penicillium, Helicobacter, and Paracoccidioides (6).

2. Turmeric cures the vaginal infection

It is also very effective against many vaginal infections. It has microbicidal and spermicidal properties thus can be applied externally to cure such problems.

3. Anti-inflammatory properties

Curcumin present in turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties (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 properties 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 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 that improve the cognitive functions and anti-inflammatory activities of the brain (14).

8. Curcumin is good for a healthy heart

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 the cholesterol level

Research showed that the administration of curcumin decreases cholesterol levels in the blood. It acts as a hypolipidemic effect by decreasing plasma lipid peroxidation. Not only this curcumin in turmeric also decreases 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 prevents 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 (IBS) 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 the addition of turmeric reduces IrBS by 50-60 % (21).

14. Healthy Liver

The hepatoprotective activity of turmeric is because of its antioxidant property. Therefore it can effective against liver diseases, like hepatitis B & C, alcoholic & nonalcoholic 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 the 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 in turmeric 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, suppress 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 of 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

A 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.