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Research on the Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is a flowering plant related to ginger. The root of the plant is what’s ground up to create the bright yellow powder commonly used as a spice in traditional Indian dishes and fabric dyes.
The active compound in turmeric that gives it health benefits is called curcumin. When discussing the health benefits of turmeric, it’s common to simply refer to curcumin as it is the active compound being studied.
One weakness curcumin has is that our bodies don’t absorb it very well, fortunately, there is a simple solution for that. Black pepper, or piperine, has been shown to increase the bioavailability of curcumin by over 150%1. This means it helps your body absorb the curcumin, and put it to work. Much of the research covered here investigates curcumin with and without black pepper.
Research has been conducted on a plethora of conditions, mostly involving inflammation. Curcumin is regarded as safe and well tolerated based on a wide range of thorough studies2.
Turmeric for Arthritis
Many people struggling with arthritis find that turmeric can help relieve their symptoms in a matter of days. For treating a specific form of arthritis, osteoarthritis in the knee, turmeric was as safe and effective as ibuprofen according to the study, Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis3. Relief has been consistent enough that even the Arthritis Foundation4 advocates for its use,
“Traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis turmeric/curcumin blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the target of celecoxib (Celebrex)”.
This means that curcumin works similarly to the prescription medication Celebrex. Common side effects of Celebrex may include swelling, dizziness and cold-like symptoms. Curcumin doesn’t carry these side effects, so some patients may be able to avoid them by using turmeric instead.
Turmeric for Memory
Recent research from UCLA shows that curcumin can help brain function for individuals with memory problems.5
“In memory tests, the people taking curcumin improved by 28 percent over the 18 months. Those taking curcumin also had mild improvements in mood, and their brain PET scans showed significantly less amyloid and tau signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus than those who took placebos.”
The amygdala and hypothalamus are regions in the brain that are related to memory function. Amyloid is a protein that builds up and creates plaque in brains affected by Alzheimer’s. Tau is another protein that is disturbed in Alzheimer’s patients, these proteins become tangled and block neuron transport.
Turmeric for Depression
Curcumin has also been studied for treating major depressive disorder, research was conducted on rats under chronic stress conditions. In a study from 2010, researchers judged rat’s depression based on periods of immobility.6 Rats taking a combination of curcumin and black pepper showed significantly lower periods of immobility compared to the control group.
Furthermore, the biological mechanism responsible for this was found. Researchers found that curcumin slows the activity of enzymes that break down the “happy” compounds, serotonin and dopamine.6
A 2017 analysis of data on curcumin for depression concluded, “Curcumin appears to be safe, well-tolerated, and efficacious among depressed patients.”7 This data included six clinical trials with a total of 377 human patients.
Common treatment options for depression involve medications that have severe side effects, and are difficult to stop taking.8 Increase in suicidal thoughts and loss of sexual interest are side effects of many antidepressants. Antidepressants cannot be quit “cold-turkey”, patients are advised to wean off them and aren’t always successful their first try. It’s important for individuals to try natural alternatives before pursuing these medications.
Turmeric for Cancer
Cancer treatment options such as chemotherapy and radiation are intense and often require additional treatment for the side effects that go along with them.9 That’s why there’s a never-ending search for natural options.
There is a lot of hype surrounding various natural treatments for cancer that rightfully cultivates skepticism. However, there is real scientific research on curcumin that has shown that curcumin has potential10:
“Curcumin, either alone or in combination with other agents, has demonstrated potential against colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, lung cancer, oral cancer, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)”
Turmeric is a well-known antioxidant11 so it’s no surprise that it’s showing potential for treatment. Researchers studying mutagens in chronic cigarette smokers concluded that turmeric as a dietary supplement is an effective anti-mutagen and may lower the risk of cancer for smokers.12
Turmeric for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is what it sounds like, this is a condition in which the intestines become inflamed. The most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Curcumin has been studied for treatment and maintenance and has shown promising results that have prompted further research.
For maintenance therapy of ulcerative colitis, research found “The relapse rates were 4.65% in the curcumin-treated group and 20.51% in the placebo group.”13 Research for treating Crohn’s disease resulted in a mean reduction of 55 points on the Crohn’s disease activity index (CDAI).14 The CDAI ranges from 0-600, patients reporting a score of 150 and lower are considered to be in remission.
Turmeric for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is similar to IBD but it mainly affects the large intestine. Common symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. The causes of IBS are unclear and there isn’t a cure for it.
A study with over 200 volunteers found that just 72 mgs of turmeric extract twice a day reduced IBS by up to 60%.15 Volunteers reported their symptoms had improved with treatment and that they reported that their bowel movements had changed for the better.
Turmeric with CBD Oil
As you can see from the research above, turmeric is a powerful plant extract that can be used to help treat a wide variety of diseases. This is why we make our vegetable glycerin based CBD oil tinctures and CBD oil capsules with turmeric. Our CBD oil capsules are made with 195 mgs of turmeric and are highly recommended for those who wish to try turmeric as part of their treatment.