Ever wonder why curry tastes (and smells) so good? For that, you have to thank Turmeric. Also known as Curcuma longa or the Indian Saffron, this plant is commonly grown in India and other parts of Asia, as well as South America.
Apart from being a popular spice, Turmeric is used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes as well. Primarily used in Ayurvedic medicine, it has become widely famous for its many Turmeric health properties.
How Turmeric is Used Worldwide
Turmeric contains curcuminoids, which are active ingredients that give the plant its vibrant yellow colour. Throughout the years, it has been used by different countries in a variety of ways:
- India: as a spice for curries
- Japan: as Turmeric tea
- Korea: as Turmeric drink
- Thailand: ingredient for cosmetics
- China: colourant
- Pakistan: an anti-inflammatory supplement
- United States: ingredient for mustard, chips, butter, and cheese
Apart from the above purposes, Turmeric has also been used for a variety of health purposes. After all, these compounds bring about many benefits to the body – which will be discussed in detail below.
What are the Health Benefits of Turmeric?
1. Turmeric helps prevent free radical damage
Free radicals are unstable atoms. They can be generated within the body – or result from excessive exposure to the sun, pollution, radiation, among many other things. When these accumulate in the body, they can bring about a phenomenon called oxidative stress.
Unfortunately, this process can alter the membrane, DNA, and other structures of the cells. These can then lead to mutations that bring about certain illnesses, including heart diseases, autoimmune disorders, and premature ageing, to name a few.
Fortunately, Turmeric can counter these bad effects of the body. According to a study, Turmeric may help boost the activity of antioxidants or substances that can help prevent or slow the damage (oxidative stress) brought about by free radicals. Results show that regular Turmeric intake can help increase the activity of several antioxidants, including superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.
2. Turmeric may help stop inflammation – and its resulting diseases
Inflammation occurs when the tissues are affected by toxins, trauma, bacteria, heat, and other causes. In response to any of these, the cells release several chemicals, including histamine, prostaglandins, and bradykinin into the circulation. These result in fluid leakage into the tissues, which later on manifests as swelling.
Inflammation goes beyond visibly injured tissue, as it can occur inside the body as well. In fact, this process has been linked with many diseases, including allergies, asthma, bronchitis, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, obesity, and psoriasis, to name a few.
Turmeric may help reduce inflammation – and its adverse effects – by downplaying the activity of nuclear factor (NF)-κB. This substance helps prevent the activation of Tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α), which is responsible for triggering inflammation. As such, turmeric in tea benefits people with inflammatory diseases, including:
Arthritis is a condition that is characterized by swelling and tenderness of the joints. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this disease. While some medications may help relieve symptoms, they are costly and usually come with unpleasant side effects.
As such, many scientists have decided to explore the many health benefits of Turmeric. According to several studies, it may help reduce the symptoms in both osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The most common type of arthritis is OA, which often affects the hands, spine, hips, and knees. Research regarding curcumin has shown that a dose of 500 milligrams taken thrice a day can help reduce pain and improve physical functioning.
RA, on the other hand, is brought about by a defective immune system. This disorder can lead to inflammation in the small joints of the hands, as well as the wrists.
According to another study, 500 milligrams of Curcumin and 50 milligrams of Diclofenac Sodium can help reduce joint tenderness and swelling in affected individuals.
Metabolic syndrome is an inflammatory disease that leads to the following symptoms:
- Hyperglycaemia, or elevated blood sugar levels
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
- Low levels of HDL (good cholesterol)
- High levels of LDL (bad cholesterol)
- High triglyceride levels
- Insulin resistance, or the body’s inability to respond well to insulin
- Visceral obesity (increased fat deposition in the abdominal areas)
With the help of a Turmeric tea recipe for inflammation, some of the effects stated above may be reversed accordingly. Studies show that Turmeric may help improve insulin resistance, reduce fat cell formation, lower triglyceride levels, and normalize blood pressure.
With its anti-inflammatory activities, turmeric tea benefits athletes and people who work out frequently. That’s because studies show that it may help reduce muscle inflammation or delayed-onset muscle soreness. With that being said, Turmeric can help enhance recovery and performance in the next athletic/exercise sessions.
3. Turmeric may help fight infections
While antibiotics, anti-virals, and anti-fungals continue to be the golden standards when it comes to eliminating infections, several issues come along with them. For one, they come with various side effects.
As such, natural remedies such as Turmeric have been explored for their infection-fighting properties. True enough, the researchers were very happy with the following results:
Although antibiotics work well against microbes, they come with one significant issue: microbial resistance. With wrong or prolonged use, these germs can no longer be killed by the usual drugs.
Fortunately, anti-bacterial activity has become one of the many proven turmeric health benefits for the study. According to a study, it may help fight the following bacteria and the diseases they bring:
- Staphylococcus aureus – pneumonia, heart valve, and bone infections
- Staphylococcus epidermidis – prosthetic valve endocarditis infections
- Streptococcus mutans – dental caries, which can lead to bacteraemia (blood infection) and infective endocarditis
- Streptococcus pyogenes – pharyngitis, cellulitis, scarlet fever (rash), impetigo, or erysipelas
- Bacillus subtilis – bacteraemia/septicaemia, endocarditis, meningitis, and wound infections
- Bacillus cereus – vomiting and diarrhoea
- Listeria innocua – listeriosis, with symptoms that include fever, nausea, muscle aches, diarrhoea, and vomiting
- Escherichia coli – cholecystitis, bacteraemia, urinary tract infection (UTI), and traveller’s diarrhoea
- Salmonella enteritica – salmonellosis, which affects the intestinal tract
- Helicobacter pylori – peptic ulcers
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa – lung or blood infections
Research also shows that Turmeric can help fight viruses that bring about the flu, hepatitis, influenza, Zika disease, and Chikungunya disease. Interestingly so, further research suggests that it may also help inhibit the growth of the human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus 2 (genital herpes), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-AIDS).
Fungi often affect the skin and mucous membranes. While they can be treated easily – though with a possibility of resistance – fungi can be fatal to those with weak immune systems (i.e. people with organ transplants, cancer, or HIV-AIDS). Fortunately, Turmeric may help inhibit the growth of the following species:
- Candida species, which cause yeast infections
- Cryptococcus species, which lead to cryptococcal meningitis (infection of the brain meninges)
- Aspergillus species, which cause aspergillosis (lung infection)
- Dermatophytes, which can lead to fungal infections of the hair, nails, and skin
4. Turmeric may help preserve nervous system function
Neurones, which are the building blocks of the nervous system, can lose function and lead to a variety of diseases. While stem cell therapies offer hope, currently approved treatments are not that effective. And since ‘prevention’ is better than cure, experts have advocated for the use of herbs such as turmeric in health promotion.
According to research, Turmeric’s anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory actions may help prevent ageing, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Apart from being beneficial, scientists consider Turmeric as a safe and inexpensive way to defend the body from the aforementioned diseases.
5. Turmeric may help fight cancerous tumours
Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases in the UK. According to Cancer Research UK, about 367,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. Worse, about 165,000 Brits die from different cancers every year.
While new scientific developments have led to more effective treatments and better chances for survival, most anti-cancer drugs come with prominent side effects. Add to that, they can be very costly, with eight rounds of chemo costing a whopping £2,000.
The search for cheap and effective agents have led the researchers to Turmeric, which work by fighting inflammation, free radicals, bacteria, and viruses.
As mentioned, Turmeric can help inhibit the activity of nuclear factor (NF)-κB. Since this substance can trigger breast cancer proliferation, Turmeric can be a potential part of breast cancer therapy.
Lung cancer brings about aggressive chest tumours. These make the five-year survival rate markedly low at only 4 to 17%.
Turmeric may change this as it can help control tumour growth. It works by inhibiting nuclear factor (NF)-κB and JAK2 activity, both of which are responsible for lung tumour proliferation.
Blood, Bone Marrow, or Lymphatic Cancers
With Turmeric’s ability to inhibit cancer-causing factors, it may be useful in the fight against leukaemia, a condition that affects the blood or bone marrow. Turmeric has shown promise against several types, including acute myeloid leukaemia, acute monocytic leukaemia, and chronic myelogenous leukaemia.
Other related cancers where Turmeric may be used include Lymphomas, which arise from lymphocytes or infection-fighting immune cells. Multiple myeloma, which is a malignant disease of the blood, may benefit from Turmeric as well.
Digestive System Cancers
Turmeric may help curb the growth of the following malignancies:
- Gastric cancer, which is the 17th most common cancer in the UK
- Colorectal cancer, which is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in the UK
- Pancreatic cancer, which is the 5th cause of cancer death in England
- Hepatic cancer, which has a diagnosis rate in the UK at 17 a day
6. Turmeric may help prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a condition wherein the body is unable to effectively metabolize glucose. This leads to a variety of symptoms, including increased thirst, hunger or urination, blurry vision, fatigue, unintended weight loss, frequent infections, and areas of darkened skin.
In the UK, 90% of diabetic people suffer from type 2 diabetes. This costs the country about £23.7 million in terms of direct and indirect costs. With the burgeoning cost of disease, many experts have set their sights on supplements that may help reduce the incidence. Turmeric is one of these.
Turmeric is deemed to be a great supplement for diabetes prevention because of its ability to help blood sugar levels. It can also help control the inflammatory processes that commonly occur in type 2 diabetes.
Various studies have different recommendations when it comes to dosing:
- According to Na et al (2013), 300 milligrams of Curcumin a day for 3 months can help decrease the incidence of high blood sugar even after fasting. It helped yield better HbA1C results as well.
- The study by Neerati et al (2014) has shown that475 milligrams of Curcumin, when taken for 10 days, can help lower blood sugar levels even after meals.
- According to Panari et al (2018), taking 500 milligrams of Curcumin and 5 milligrams of Piperine every day for 3 months can help lower blood sugar levels. It can also improve Haemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) levels, which is the 8 to 12-week average of your daily blood glucose levels.
7. Turmeric may help improve memory and mood
Your cognition and mood can deteriorate as you age. As such, if you are between the ages of 60 to 85 years old, then you should try to consider taking Turmeric with tea. After all, a study has shown that it can help enhance memory and mood.
Results show that after an hour of taking 400 milligrams of curcumin, participants exhibited better attention and working memory. They also became calmer, contented, and less stressed.
8. Turmeric may help improve the skin
There are many turmeric benefits for the skin, given its anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-infective properties. Studies have shown that topical application – even the intake of turmeric for tea – may help alleviate the following skin conditions:
- Alopecia or hair loss
- Atopic dermatitis or eczema
- Premature skin ageing
- Oral lichen planus (inflammation of the oral mucous membranes)
- Pruritus or itching
- Radiodermatitis, where radiotherapy leads to rashes, peeling, even skin cell death
9. Turmeric may help you lose weight
A lot of people want to lose weight, but only some can successfully do so. However, if you are highly-motivated to reduce the excess pounds, then you should consider drinking a Turmeric tea recipe every day. After all, many studies have shown its potential to promote weight loss.
- According to Amin et al (2015), 1.5 grams of Turmeric and 900 milligrams of black seeds, when taken for 8 weeks, can help reduce body fat percentage, cholesterol, and fasting blood glucose.
- In a study by Di Pierro et al (2015), a dose of 800 milligrams of Curcumin, taken daily for 8 weeks, led to a weight loss of up to 4.91%. It also helped reduce body fat by 8.43%, waistline by 4.14%, and BMI by 6.43%.
- As per Rahimi et al (2016), 80 milligrams of Nano-micelle Curcumin, when taken once a day for 12 weeks, can help decrease BMI, fasting blood glucose, and triglyceride levels in the body.
How Much Turmeric Should I Take Daily?
If you want to take Turmeric for its health benefits, then your dosage will depend on the form you wish to consume.
Turmeric is available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and powders. Generally speaking, the European Food Safety Authority recommends an intake of 0-3 milligrams of Turmeric per kilogram of body weight.
Although that is the case, some people base their Turmeric dosages on some clinical trials. Such studies show that you can take a daily dose of 4,000 to 8,000 milligrams. With that being said, scientific literature puts the maximum daily dosage at 12,000 milligrams.
Is it Safe to Take Turmeric Every day?
Yes. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, Turmeric is ‘generally recognized as safe’ to take.
Topical Turmeric Preparations
For skin conditions, topical formulations such as ointments, cosmetics, and soaps may also be used. The dosage, again, will depend on the curcumin concentration per preparation. As such, it is best to refer to the instructional packet that comes with the product you wish to use.
How Often Should You Drink Turmeric Tea?
The benefits of Turmeric tea are indeed plentiful. As mentioned, it may help fight inflammation, infection, and cancers. It may also help promote optimal brain function, disease-free skin, even weight loss.
As with supplements, how often you drink a turmeric drink recipe should depend on what ingredient you wish to use.
If you decide to go for turmeric powder, it’s best to start at 400 to 600 milligram serving per day. For reference, a teaspoon of Turmeric powder contains a serving of 200 milligrams.
From there, you can increase the dose to 500 to 1000 milligrams a day. This is recommended if you want to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits of a Turmeric drink.
If you wish to use a dried or grated turmeric root, the recommended dose is 1 to 3 grams every day.
Turmeric Tea Recipes
Turmeric may be taken alone, but it often works better with other ingredients. If you want to put a twist to your usual recipe for a Turmeric drink, then you should try any of these out:
Turmeric and Black Pepper Tea
Turmeric is best taken with black pepper as the latter contains piperine. This substance can help increase curcumin’s bioavailability (or the proportion of the drug that is absorbed and circulated in the body) by as much as 2000%.
For this recipe, all you need are 2 ½ teaspoons of dried turmeric, lots of black pepper, a lemon wedge, and 1/3 cup of honey.
What’s great about this recipe is the Turmeric and black pepper health benefits that come with it. This tea can help improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the body, to name a few.
This is a popular recipe because of the numerous health benefits of Turmeric and ginger. Regular drinking can help improve your digestion, as well as manage your diabetes symptoms.
This recipe is very easy to do, as all you need are ½ teaspoon Turmeric and ½ teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger. You can also add a wedge of lemon and a tablespoon of honey if you wish.
A Turmeric drink with milk, also known as Golden Milk, is a recipe that only takes a few minutes to prepare. All you just need is a cup of unsweetened coconut milk and ½ tablespoon of Turmeric powder.
What Foods Taste Best with Turmeric?
Turmeric is not only good for tea, as it can be used in a variety of recipes as well. Here are the foods that go well with the ‘golden spice’:
Of course, what is curry without Turmeric? A teaspoon of this powder is enough to add colour and a strong, delicious taste to your favourite curry dish.
If you are new to Turmeric, then the best way to get your palate accustomed to it is to add it to your scrambled eggs. A pinch of Turmeric powder is enough to pack a punch in an otherwise boring breakfast dish.
Make the most out of Turmeric’s benefits by sprinkling it on top of roasted vegetables. Good additions include potatoes, cauliflower, kale, collards, cabbage, and other root vegetables.
Tired of bland soups? Sprinkle some Turmeric to a bowl of canned chicken soup or vegetable.
If you want a fancier and tastier carb source, then add a dash of Turmeric to your rice bowl. This flavourful pilaf will make you seem like an expert chef!
What are the Side Effects of Turmeric?
Although Turmeric is generally safe to take, it does come with some side effects. Trial participants have developed nausea, rashes, headaches, diarrhoea, and yellowish tools with increased doses of Turmeric. With that being said, it’s best to start with small doses for your recipe for turmeric tea.
Turmeric is a yellow spice that comes with many health benefits. It can help reduce inflammation, as well as fight infections and certain cancers. It may also help prevent free radical cell damage, even the degenerative diseases that develop thereafter.
Turmeric drink benefits can help you look better as well. Apart from helping improve the skin, it can help you lose weight too!
As for daily supplementation, the European Food Safety Authority recommends the intake of up to 3 milligrams of Turmeric per kilogram of body weight. As for tea preparations, the advisable daily amount is 400 to 600 milligrams of powder or 1 to 3 grams of dried root.
Side effects of Turmeric intake (usually at increased doses) include nausea, nausea, rashes, headaches, diarrhoea, and yellowish tools
Apart from tea, Turmeric can also be used in a variety of recipes. These include curries, scrambled eggs, roasted vegetables, soups, and rice, to name a few.