5 Facts About Turmeric You Absolutely Need to Know

Known for giving curry powder its golden color, turmeric is more than just a tasty spice. Using turmeric dates all the way back to 4,000 years ago in India, according to the Herbal MedicineIt’s been used for Ayurvedic purposes and in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s gaining even more popularity today, many claiming it can do wonders for the human body. MindBodyGreen mentions it may help prevent prostate cancer, can be used to disinfect cuts and burns, and may also halt tumor growth, just to name a few benefits. While there’s a lot to learn, there’s no denying this spice’s appeal. These are five things everyone should know about turmeric.

1. It’s often used for reducing inflammation

Turmeric in a brown bowl

Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory agent. | iStock.com

In both Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, turmeric is used as an anti-inflammatory. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, this may be due to the curcumin, which regulates the enzymes that cause inflammation in our bodies. Organic Facts says that turmeric consumption may help soothe gastrointestinal issues including constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, and can also help with menstrual pain such as cramping and bloating. Since many diseases are linked to inflammation, turmeric is definitely on people’s radars.

2. It may help reduce pain from arthritis

Man holding his knee from joint pain

It can be used to aid in treatment for arthritis. | iStock.com

The Arthritis Foundation mentions turmeric may reduce inflammation in a way that minimizes pain and stiffness of the joints for those who suffer from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. One recent meta-analysis found turmeric may be beneficial for treating arthritis, though the authors acknowledged more research needs to be done. They also noted there was no difference between using turmeric and just curcumin, which further supports the idea that it’s the antioxidant that’s responsible for the inflammation-fighting effect.

3. It may help lower cholesterol

hands showing red heart

Turmeric can help keep your heart pumping. | iStock.com

Too much LDL cholesterol makes it difficult for our heart to pump blood throughout our bodies, which can lead to cardiovascular issues. University Health News says that by consuming turmeric root and turmeric root extract, it’s possible to prevent oxidation of bad cholesterol in the body and to suppress plaque formation in the arteries. Turmeric may also help prevent the production of cholesterol in the liver and can stop it from being absorbed into the gut. For people who are overweight and have high cholesterol levels, WebMD says research suggests regularly consuming turmeric extract can reduce overall cholesterol and triglycerides.

4. It’s been used to boost cognitive ability

x-ray images of brain

Turmeric also benefits brain power. | iStock.com

According to Organic Facts, turmeric was used in traditional medicine to boost mental activity, including concentration and memory. It may also help prevent the formation of plaques that are indicative of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Eat This, Not That! reported turmeric may have more immediate effect on the brain as well. The story said research from Swinburn University of Technology found curcumin helped people better focus on a specific task an hour after consumption.

5. More research needs to be done to prove further benefits of turmeric

Turmeric on a wooden table

The possibilities are endless. | iStock.com

Although turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years and has a reputation for being a powerful healing agent, there needs to be more research. Even some of the most promising health benefits need to be met with skepticism. Most of the research about turmeric’s effect on specific ailments has been limited to animals, and human studies are still far down the road.