OTHER NAME(S): Curcuma, Curcuma aromatica, Curcuma domestica, Curcumae longa, Curcumae Longae Rhizoma, Curcumin, Curcumine, Curcuminoid…
Turmeric is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant. It is commonly used in Asian food. You probably know turmeric as the main spice in curry. It has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. But the root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine. It contains a yellow-colored chemical called curcumin, which is often used to color foods and cosmetics.
Turmeric is commonly used for conditions involving pain and inflammation, such as osteoarthritis. It is also used for hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, a type of liver disease, and itching. Some people use turmeric for heartburn, thinking and memory skills, inflammatory bowel disease, stress, and many other conditions, but there no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Don’t confuse turmeric with Javanese turmeric root (Curcuma zedoaria).
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Some experts warn that turmeric may interfere with the body’s response against COVID-19. There is no strong data to support this warning. But there is also no good data to support using turmeric for COVID-19. Follow healthy lifestyle choices and proven prevention methods instead.
How does it work?
Turmeric contains the chemical curcumin. Curcumin and other chemicals in turmeric might decrease swelling (inflammation). Because of this, turmeric might be beneficial for treating conditions that involve inflammation.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Hay fever. Taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, seems to reduce hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestion.
- Depression. Most available research shows that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, reduces depression symptoms in people already using an antidepressant.
- High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Turmeric seems to lower levels of blood fats called triglycerides. The effects of turmeric on cholesterol levels are conflicting. There are many different turmeric products available. It is not known which ones work best.
- Buildup of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Research shows that taking turmeric extract reduces markers of liver injury in people who have a liver disease not caused by alcohol. It also seems to help prevent the build-up of more fat in the liver in people with this condition.
- Osteoarthritis. Some research shows that taking turmeric extracts, alone or in combination with other herbal ingredients, can reduce pain and improve function in people with knee osteoarthritis. In some research, turmeric worked about as well as ibuprofen for reducing osteoarthritis pain. But it does not seem to work as well as diclofenac for improving pain and function in people with osteoarthritis.
- Itching. Research suggests that taking turmeric by mouth three times daily for 8 weeks reduces itching in people with long-term kidney disease. Also, early research suggests that taking a specific combination product (C3 Complex, Sami Labs LTD) containing curcumin plus black pepper or long pepper daily for 4 weeks reduces itching severity and improves quality of life in people with chronic itching caused by mustard gas.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Alzheimer disease. Taking turmeric or a chemical in turmeric called curcumin doesn’t seem to improve symptoms of Alzheimer disease. In fact, some research suggests that turmeric may worsen thinking in people with this condition. While studies to date have been small and low-quality. the current evidence doesn’t support using turmeric for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Stomach ulcers. Some research suggests that taking turmeric three times daily for 8 weeks does not improve stomach ulcers. Also, taking powdered turmeric four times daily for 6 weeks seems to be less effective than taking a conventional antacid.
- Skin damage caused by radiation therapy (radiation dermatitis). Curcumin is a chemical in turmeric. Taking curcumin does not seem to prevent skin problems during radiation treatment.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Curcumin is a chemical in turmeric. Some research shows that curcumin can improve memory and attention in older adults. Some of these adults showed signs of mild mental decline before taking curcumin. But other research shows that curcumin does not improve mental function in older people who don’t show signs of mental decline.
- Asthma. Adding turmeric to standard therapy for asthma doesn’t seem to improve lung function or reduce most asthma symptoms in adults or children. But adding turmeric to usual asthma treatment in children may reduce the need for rescue inhalers and reduce nighttime awakenings.
- A blood disorder that reduces levels of protein in the blood called hemoglobin (beta-thalassemia). People with beta-thalassemia may need blood transfusions. This can cause too much iron in the blood. Early research shows that taking curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, might reduce the amount of iron in the blood in people with beta-thalassemia.
- An adverse skin reaction caused by cancer drug treatment (chemotherapy-induced acral erythema). Taking turmeric doesn’t seem to help prevent this adverse skin reaction in people treated with the cancer drug capecitabine. But it might reduce how many people have a severe skin reaction.
- Non-cancerous growths in the large intestine and rectum (colorectal adenoma). Early research shows that taking a turmeric extract does not reduce the number of growths in the intestines of people with a condition called familial adenomatous polyposis.
- Colon cancer, rectal cancer. Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing turmeric extract and Javanese turmeric extract might stabilize some measures of colon cancer. There is also early evidence that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for 30 days can reduce the number of precancerous glands in the colon of people at high risk of cancer.
- Kidney damage caused by contrast dyes (contrast induced nephropathy). Curcumin is a chemical in turmeric. Taking curcumin does not seem to reduce the risk of this condition in people who already have kidney disease.
- Surgery to improve blood flow to the heart (CABG surgery). Early research suggests that taking curcuminoids, which are chemicals found in turmeric, starting 3 days before surgery and continuing for 5 days after surgery can lower the risk of a heart attack following bypass surgery.
- A type of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease). Some evidence suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for one month can reduce bowel movements, diarrhea, and stomach pain in people with Crohn disease.
- Diabetes. Early research shows that taking turmeric might prevent diabetes in people with prediabetes.
- Indigestion (dyspepsia). Some research shows that taking turmeric by mouth four times daily for 7 days might help improve an upset stomach.
- Muscle soreness caused by exercise. Early research suggests that turmeric might reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
- A mild form of gum disease (gingivitis). Early research shows that using a turmeric mouthwash is as effective as a drug-therapy mouthwash for reducing gum disease and bacteria levels in the mouth of people with gingivitis.
- A digestive tract infection that can lead to ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori). Early research suggests that taking turmeric daily for 4 weeks is less effective than conventional treatment for eliminating certain bacteria (H. pylori) that can cause stomach ulcers. Other research shows that taking turmeric along with conventional treatments for eliminating these bacteria (H. pylori) does not make the conventional treatment more effective. But it may help to reduce stomach upset.
- A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS). Some early research shows that taking a turmeric extract daily for 8 weeks reduces the symptoms of IBS in people with IBS who are otherwise healthy. Other early research shows that taking a capsule containing turmeric and fennel for 30 days improves pain and quality of life in people with IBS.
- Joint pain. Research shows that taking a specific product containing turmeric and other ingredients three times daily for 8 weeks reduces the severity of joint pain. But it does not appear to help joint stiffness or improve joint function.
- An inflammatory condition that causes rash or sores on the skin or mouth (lichen planus). Taking a certain product containing chemicals found in turmeric three times daily for 12 days can reduce skin irritation caused by lichen planus.
- Symptoms of menopause. Curcumin is a chemical in turmeric. Some research shows that taking curcumin can reduce hot flashes in some postmenopausal women. But it doesn’t seem to reduce other symptoms of menopause.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Early research in people metabolic syndrome shows that taking curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, for 2-3 months decreases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) or a type of “bad” cholesterol. However, curcumin does not affect weight, blood pressure, blood sugar or levels of other lipids in these people.
- Swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). Early research shows that swishing a turmeric solution in the mouth six times daily for 6 weeks reduces the risk of inflammation in the mouth and/or esophagus caused by radiation treatment in people with head and neck cancer.
- A serious gum infection (periodontitis). In people with periodontitis, getting a turmeric chip in addition to having teeth deep cleaned below the gumline doesn’t improve plaque or gum disease but may lessen attachment loss. In contrast, applying turmeric gel in addition to having teeth deep cleaned below the gumline doesn’t improve gum disease or attachment loss, but may reduce plaque.
- Pain after surgery. Early research suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, after surgery can reduce pain, swelling, fatigue, and the need for pain medications.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Research shows that taking a turmeric extract daily for 7 days before a menstrual period and continuing for 3 days after the period ends improves pain, mood, and behavior in women with PMS.
- Prostate cancer. Research suggests that taking a formula containing broccoli powder, turmeric powder, pomegranate whole fruit powder, and green tea extract three times daily for 6 months prevents an increase in prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in men with prostate cancer. PSA levels are measured to monitor how well prostate cancer treatment is working. However, it’s not yet known if this formula, or turmeric alone, reduces the risk of prostate cancer progression or recurrence.
- Scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis). Early research shows that applying a turmeric tonic to the scalp improves the appearance and symptoms of psoriasis in people with psoriasis on the scalp.
- Skin damage caused by radiation therapy (radiation dermatitis). Early research in people with head and neck cancer shows that using a specific cream containing turmeric and sandalwood oil during radiation therapy reduces frequency and severity of radiation dermatitis when compared to using baby oil.
- Inflammation and damage to the rectum due to radiation therapy. Early research in people with rectum damage from radiation therapy shows that curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, doesn’t reduce inflammation of the rectum or bladder.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research suggests that curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, might reduce some RA symptoms, including pain, morning stiffness, walking time, and joint swelling. Other research shows that taking a turmeric product twice daily reduces RA symptoms better than conventional medication. But curcumin doesn’t seem to help when used in small amounts.
- Stress. Early research shows that taking turmeric formulated with dietary fiber may reduce stress in otherwise healthy people.
- An autoimmune disease that causes widespread swelling (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE). Early research suggests that taking turmeric by mouth three times daily for 3 months can reduce blood pressure and improve kidney function in people with kidney inflammation (lupus nephritis) caused by SLE.
- Tuberculosis. Early research suggests that taking a product containing turmeric and Tinospora cordifolia can reduce bacteria levels, improve wound healing, and reduce liver toxicity caused by antituberculosis therapy in people with tuberculosis who are receiving antituberculosis therapy.
- A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). Some early research suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, along with standard therapy for ulcerative colitis may improve symptoms and increase remission. But these studies are generally low quality. And when results from these two studies and another study are analyzed together, turmeric doesn’t seem to improve remission rates. More higher quality research is need to determine the role of turmeric in ulcerative colitis.
- Swelling (inflammation) of the eye (uveitis). Early research suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, might improve symptoms of long-term swelling of the eye.
- Liver and gallbladder problems.
- Menstrual problems.
- A painful mouth disease that reduces one’s ability to open the mouth (oral submucous fibrosis).
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate turmeric for these uses.
Side Effects & Safety
When taken by mouth: Turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth short-term. Turmeric products that provide up to 8 grams of curcumin daily seem to be safe when used for up to 2 months, and up to 3 grams of turmeric seems to be safe when used for up to 3 months. Turmeric usually doesn’t cause serious side effects. Some people can experience mild side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. These side effects are more common at higher doses.
When applied to the skin: Turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when applied to the skin. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin inside the mouth as a mouthwash.
When applied into the rectum: Turmeric is POSSIBLY SAFE when it is used as an enema.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts during pregnancy or breast-feeding. However, turmeric is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts during pregnancy. It might promote a menstrual period or stimulate the uterus, putting the pregnancy at risk. Do not take medicinal amounts of turmeric if you are pregnant. There is not enough reliable information to know if turmeric is safe to use in medicinal amounts during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Gallbladder problems: Turmeric can make gallbladder problems worse. Do not use turmeric if you have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction.
Bleeding problems: Taking turmeric might slow blood clotting. This might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
Diabetes: Curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, might decrease blood sugar in people with diabetes. Use with caution in people with diabetes as it might make blood sugar too low.
A stomach disorder called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Turmeric can cause stomach upset in some people. It might make stomach problems such as GERD worse. Do not take turmeric if it worsens symptoms of GERD.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, which might act like the hormone estrogen. In theory, turmeric might make hormone-sensitive conditions worse. However, some research shows that turmeric reduces the effects of estrogen in some hormone-sensitive cancer cells. Therefore, turmeric might have beneficial effects on hormone-sensitive conditions. Until more is known, use cautiously if you have a condition that might be made worse by exposure to hormones.
Infertility: Turmeric might lower testosterone levels and decrease sperm movement when taken by mouth by men. This might reduce fertility. Turmeric should be used cautiously by people trying to have a baby.
Iron deficiency: Taking high amounts of turmeric might prevent the absorption of iron. Turmeric should be used with caution in people with iron deficiency.
Liver disease: There is some concern that turmeric can damage the liver, especially in people who have liver disease. Don’t use turmeric if you have liver problems.
Surgery: Turmeric might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using turmeric at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Be cautious with this combination
- Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with TURMERICTurmeric might slow blood clotting. Taking turmeric along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
- For hay fever. 500 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been used daily for 2 months.
- For depression. 500 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been taken twice daily, alone or along with 20 mg of fluoxetine daily, for 6-8 weeks.
- For high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia): 1.4 grams of turmeric extract in two divided doses daily for 3 months has been used.
- For buildup of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD): 500 mg of a product containing 70 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been used daily for 8 weeks. Also, 500-mg tablets (Meriva, Indena) containing 100 mg curcumin twice daily for 8 weeks has also been used.
- For osteoarthritis: Most often, 500 mg of turmeric extract has been taken two to four times daily for 1-3 months.
- For itching: 1500 mg of turmeric in three divided doses daily for 8 weeks has been used. Also, a specific product containing turmeric extract (C3 Complex, Sami Labs LTD) plus black pepper or long pepper has been used daily for 4 weeks.
- For high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia): 1.4 grams of turmeric extract in two divided doses daily for 3 months has been used in children at least 15 years-old.
White Turmeric root resembles ginger in its shape and size. Each rhizome, or underground stem, is multi-branched with nearly transparent, pale-brown skin that will darken with maturity. Each rhizome and off-shoot can measure anywhere from 5 to 12 centimeters long. The flesh is a pale ivory to light yellow and has an aroma that combines unripe, green mangos and ginger with the earthiness of a carrot. White Turmeric root has a bitter flavor and has a mild pungency very similar to ginger.
White Turmeric root is available in the spring and through the fall months.
White Turmeric root, also commonly referred to as Zedoary, is scientifically classified as Curcuma zedoaria. It is the subterranean stem of a tall, lance-bladed tropical flowering plant In Hindi, it is called Amba Haldi, which translates to “mango turmeric” referring to its camphorus, green mango aroma. The roots are well-known in Indonesia and India, as Shoti, where they are cultivated and used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
White Turmeric root is a good source of starch and therefore energy. The root contains volatile oils which offer medicinal benefits. The oils contain curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory, and other compounds that provide antimicrobial, antifungal, antiulcer, antivenom and anticancer benefits.
White Turmeric root is used in its raw form as well as in powdered form. In India, fresh “Mango ginger” is washed and peeled and then cut or sliced into strips and pickled or sliced into thin rounds and served atop green salads. In Indonesia, White Turmeric is cut into pieces and dehydrated, oven or air-dried and powdered for use as a dried spice. In larger quantities, the powder is used as a substitute for arrowroot or barley. In Thailand, young roots are used as a vegetable and in curry pastes. Fresh White Turmeric can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The peeled root can be frozen for up to 6 months.
White Turmeric root has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. The root is juiced and used as a blood purifier, as an anti-poison, and a treatment for colic and other digestive disorders. In addition to its use as an ethnomedicinal plant, Amba Haldi is cultivated for use in baby food, perfumes and skincare products.
White Turmeric root is believed to be native to the Himalayan region of northeastern India. Cultivation of the beneficial plant dates to ancient civilization. It was brought to Europe by Arabic traders and explorers along the spice routes. Today, White Turmeric is grown in northern and western India, . They can be found in specialty markets and in sub-tropical and tropical areas.