The Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the most powerful herbs in the world. It has a long history of use, particularly in Ayurvedic medicine, for managing pain, inflammation, and more. Curcumin, turmeric’s most active substance, is known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial properties, among other positive effects.

Key Takeaways

Turmeric Benefits

1. Antioxidant Agent

Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and boosts the body's own antioxidant enzymes, offering protection against oxidative damage.

2. Brain and Mental Health Booster

Curcumin in turmeric may reduce Alzheimer's progression and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

3. Anti-inflammatory Agent

Curcumin in turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties that can block inflammatory molecules, potentially benefiting rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

What is Turmeric?

The spice turmeric, derived from the rhizome of Curcuma Longa L, has been used for centuries in food preparation and traditional medicines to treat numerous diseases and conditions. Turmeric might as well be one of the most beneficial herbal medicinal plants. 

The primary biologically active constituent of turmeric is the polyphenol, curcumin, an orange-yellow powder with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, contributing to curcumin's potential to prevent such conditions as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, and other chronic diseases. 

The health benefits of turmeric 

1. Antioxidant Activity 

Oxidative damage is one of the mechanisms behind aging and many diseases. It involves free radicals, highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. 

The main reason antioxidants are so beneficial is that they protect the body from free radicals. And curcumin is a powerful scavenger of oxygen-free radicals. (1) It can defend lipids or hemoglobin against oxidation. It can significantly inhibit reactive oxygen species such as H2O2, superoxide anions, and nitrite radical generation by activated macrophages. 

One in vitro study measuring the effect of curcumin on an inducible stress protein resulted in enhanced cellular resistance to oxidative damage. (2) 

So, curcumin not only neutralizes free radicals but also stimulates your body's antioxidant enzymes. 

2. Turmeric and Brain Health

There is evidence that curcumin may lessen the development and progression of Alzheimer's disease. It exhibits anti-inflammatory properties that could counteract neurodegeneration. 

It works to reduce inflammation and the build-up of protein plaques in the brain that are characteristic of Alzheimer's patients. 

There is also some evidence that curcumin can help with depression and mood disorders. Turmeric supplements lowered depression and anxiety symptoms and depression scores in multiple trials. (3) 

3. Anti-inflammatory Activity 

Inflammation is a necessary process in the body, as it fights off harmful invaders and repairs damage caused by bacteria, viruses, and injuries. However, long-term inflammation has been implicated in most chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer, so it must be controlled, which is where anti-inflammatory compounds come in. 

Curcumin in turmeric has proven solid anti-inflammatory properties that block the action of inflammatory molecules in the body. Studies show positive effects of curcumin on people suffering from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (4) and inflammatory bowel disease. (5) 

Safety and Side Effects 

Turmeric is generally considered safe. Few side effects have been reported, and only when taken in higher doses, these side effects include nausea and diarrhea. Doses up to 8 grams aren't associated with adverse effects.

Additional Readings

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(1)On the antioxidant mechanism of curcumin: classical methods are needed to determine antioxidant mechanism and activity - PubMed (

(2)Turmerones: isolation from turmeric and their structure determination - Journal of the Chemical Society, Chemical Communications (RSC Publishing)

(3)Curcumin for depression: a meta-analysis: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: Vol 60, No 15 (

(4)A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis - Chandran - 2012 - Phytotherapy Research - Wiley Online Library

(5)Tolerability of Curcumin in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A forced dose titration study - PMC (

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