Turmeric -- fact sheet

food Jun 23, 2021
Photo by Tamanna Rumee / Unsplash

Most spices provide some medicinal benefits. But one spice that stands above the rest is turmeric.
For South Asians, no curry is a curry without the spice turmeric, not only for its aromatic quality but for tons of medicinal qualities that it has.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a well-known spice that is used in cooking and treating several body ailments. The spice turmeric contains a bioactive substance called Curcumin.

Health benefits

Turmeric contains hundreds of compounds, each with its own unique properties.
So far, turmeric has been found to contain at least 20 compounds that are antibiotic, 14 known cancer preventatives, 12 that are anti-tumour, 12 anti-inflammatory, and at least 10 antioxidants.

  • Turmeric has Anti-oxidant & Anti-Inflammatory properties. Curcumin has the best anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative agents in it. Curcumin is a pain relief agent, with less side effects.
  • It also provides relief from Inflammatory Bowel Disease/ Crohn’s Disease. Curcumin is able to provide these defensive effects, because of the cellular inflammatory agent NF kappa-B.
  • Turmeric can prevent Heart Diseases. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcuminoids protect against atherosclerosis. Curcumin reduces post-bypass heart attack risk by 56%.

  • Turmeric can Prevent Cancer. Curcumin, the vital element of turmeric, was effective in blocking an enzyme that promotes the growth of cancer cells in the head and neck.
  • Turmeric can protect the Brain- Turmeric has an element called ar-turmerone. This element can repair the stem cells of the brain.  These stem cells are required for recovery from Alzheimer’s, stroke and other neuro problems.  Studies suggest that this element plays a vital role in the treatment of brain diseases in the future.
  • Brain- Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a protein very important for brain functions. Turmeric increases the level of this protein in the body. This factor helps cure various brain-related abnormalities like depression, Alzheimer’s. Another compound in turmeric — turmerone — stimulates the production of new neurons and helps treating neurological disorders, such as stroke and Alzheimer’s.
  • Curcumin is also used as an anti-depressant
  • Turmeric cures various skin related diseases like rashes, allergies, psoriasis and heals several types of wounds.
  • Turmeric also heals stomach ulcers. Curcumin reduces the lesions in the colon of men.
  • Studies also prove that Curcumin helps cure arthritis.
  • Turmeric kills bacteria and viruses but so far this has not been proven in people.
  • Curcumin can help lessen the symptoms of allergies by inhibiting histamine release from mast cells. It reduces both the inflammation and bronchospasms experienced by asthma sufferers.
  • Turmeric helps in removing the unwanted hairs on skin permanently upon constant usage.
  • It also acts as a sunscreen agent and protects the skin from sun tans, acne, pimples and scars.
  • Turmeric protects pancreatic beta cells from inflammation and oxidation.
  • The element curcumin, present in turmeric keeps the blood sugar in control and protects against type-2 diabetes.

Side effects

Unsafe for Pregnant & Breast feeding Ladies
During these delicate phases, turmeric is safe when taken by mouth only in the amounts that is found in food.  But, it is unsafe, when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts during pregnancy as it might stimulate the uterus and result in menstrual periods and put the pregnancy at risk.  
People with gallbladder stones and obstructions in bile duct, are highly advised not to take turmeric in medicinal amounts.
Too much intake of turmeric lowers the level of testosterone and minimizes the movement of sperms in men, resulting in male infertility.
When consumed in high dosages, turmeric causes stomach ulcers. Only correct dosages can cure ulcers.
Turmeric increases the risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
Turmeric can prevent the absorption of iron.
Too much of anything is good for nothing!  So consult with a practitioner before taking turmeric in medicinal quantities.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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