28 October 2020 Jae Haroldsen

The 2019 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements reports turmeric supplement use over the past five years had a 26.2% growth rate. In 2015, only 5% of supplement users used turmeric. In 2019, it was 16%. Are you wondering why so many people have joined me in reaching for a turmeric supplement?

The health benefits of turmeric have been noted for thousands of years even though it is often used to flavor or color curry powders. In Eastern medicine, it is one of the most commonly prescribed plants in China and India for its abundance of polyphenol curcumin.

Scientifically known as Curcuma Longa, turmeric is a relative of the ginger plant. As an herbaceous perennial, the yellow-colored spice is harvested from the plant’s rhizomes. The rhizomes are underground stems connected to the plant’s roots and shoots.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a powerful supplement to fight inflammation. My Jin Shin Jyutsu energy worker started me on turmeric supplements ten years ago to combat inflammation in several of my tendons and ligaments causing me severe pain in my feet, knees, hips, back, and chest.

I didn’t realize the amazing pain-relief effects of turmeric until I had to go off the supplement for two weeks before surgery. My prescribed non-steroid anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) didn’t seem to do anything. I was in constant pain for the entire two weeks.

The Polyphenol Curcumin

Of all the turmeric extracts, curcumin is the most beneficial micronutrient to human health. To achieve these benefits, curcumin must be taken in a concentrated form due to its low bioavailability.

Curcumin’s bioavailability is increased when it is combined with piperine, a component of black pepper. By combining curcumin with piperine, curcumin’s bioavailability has been shown to increase by two-thousand percent.

Recommended Dosages

Turmeric tea is a popular dosage form in Eastern medicine. It is made by brewing grated turmeric root or concentrated powder. As a food additive, the World Health Organization suggests a daily amount of 0-3 milligrams of curcuminoids per kilogram of body weight. However, many Westerners find the tea brew too spicy to get a full dosage.

A turmeric supplement is more appealing to Western taste buds. Research studies using 500-700 mg of curcuminoids supplements taken twice-daily for two to three months show benefits for osteoarthritis, itchy skin, and high cholesterol.

Curcumin – Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory

Numerous studies show various health benefits related to turmeric supplement use. Chronic stress put on the body from unhealthy lifestyle choices can be benefited from curcumin’s two primary properties are:

  • Antioxidant - reduces oxidative stress by bringing balance to the number of free radicals causing mayhem in the body. Free radicals contain negatively charged oxygen molecules that readily react and bond with other molecules. When free radicals get out of balance, harmful chain reactions involving proteins, fatty acids, and DNA can happen. If these reactions go uncheck overtime, issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, cognitive functioning diseases, and even cancer can develop.

  • Anti-inflammatory – Inflammation and oxidative stress are closely related. However, inflammation markers in the body show inflammation to be a contributor to many chronic health conditions including brain and nerve-related illnesses like Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary issues like asthma and allergies, joint issues like arthritis and psoriasis, and diabetes. Curcumin has been shown to block several different inflammatory stimuli including diseases caused by viruses and bacteria, environmental pollutants, high glucose, and fatty acids. 

Medical Benefits of Curcumin

Arthritis – Several studies show the anti-arthritic effect of curcumin in treating both osteoarthritis arthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These studies show anti-inflammation improvement both in blood tests for markers of inflammation and in physical tests with improvement in pain, stiffness, and physical function scores.

In an eight-month study, fifty participants with OA were assigned either standard treatment or standard treatment with twice-daily 500 mg dosage of a natural curcuminoid supplement mixture. Those receiving the curcuminoid supplement had significant improvement in physical function, range of motion, and stiffness along with a significant decrease in all blood inflammation markers.

Another study looked at participants with a pain score of five or higher with OA knee conditions. For four weeks, part of the group was given 1200 mg/day of ibuprofen, an NSAID, while the other received curcumin extracts of 1500/mg per day. They found both groups received close to the same benefits with similar functioning capability and pain scores. However, the group taking ibuprofen experienced digestive tract issues. The curcumin extract supplement users received the same pain benefits as the NSAID users without the gastrointestinal issues or damage to the body’s natural detoxifiers the kidneys and the liver.

Metabolic Syndrome – Biochemical and physiological issues are all linked to chronic low-grade inflammation. These issues include elevated triglyceride levels, insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. One study suggests curcumin supplements significantly reduce concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines in participates with Metabolic Syndrome issues.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects ten to fifteen percent of the global populations. Symptoms involve gut pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. A review of several studies from the 1988 to 2018 found curcumin benefited both rats and mice with colitis. From the five studies involving humans, it was determined curcumin had a beneficial but not significant effect on IBS symptoms.

However, many people seek self-treatment of IBM symptoms focusing on high-fiber diets, stress management, and relaxation techniques. With curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties along with its ability to balance gut microbiota, it is a potentially useful addition to their self-treatment toolkit.

Cancer Treatment – The UK Cancer Research group reports in laboratory studies turmeric seems capable of killing cancer cells and preventing cancerous cells’ growth. Turmeric appears to have the best effect on cancers involving the skin, bowel, stomach, and breast.

Research studies show lower cancer rates in Asian countries with a higher dietary consumption of turmeric. This consumption is in the 100-200 mg of curcumin daily over long periods.

Active People – With its anti-inflammatory property, curcumin can help reduce inflammation and soreness from physical activities.

Today, I do not take NSAIDS. However, I religiously take a turmeric supplement containing 47.5 mg curcuminoids twice a day without the worry of irritation to my stomach or damage to my liver and kidneys. I am getting all the benefits of a powerful anti-inflammatory without the harmful side-effects.

Many consumers are turning to the natural benefits of turmeric. Now is a perfect time to establish your brand in the turmeric market.

Labeling Disclaimer: Long-term use of high doses of curcuminoids has not been clinically studied. Individuals should seek appropriate medical advice for curcuminoid use and dosage.

Sources:

Hewlings, Susan J. and Kalman, Douglas S. “Curcumin: A Review of its’ Effects on Human Health.” Foods. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/

Omosa, L. K. et al. “Curcuma Longa.” Science Direct. 2017. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/curcuma-longa

Gunnars, Kris. “10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin.” Healthline. 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1

Huizen, Jennifer. “Nine Health Benefits of Turmeric Tea.” Medical News Today. 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319638

Amalraj, Augustine. “Biological Activities of Curcuminoids, other Biomolecules from Turmeric and their Derivatives – A Reveiw.” ELSEVIER: Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388087/

Meixner, Makayla. “Turmeric Dosage: How Much Should You Take Per a Day?” Healthline. 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-dosage

Ng, Qin Xiang. “A Meta-Analysis of the Clinical Use of Curcumin for Irritable Bowel Symptoms.” Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6210149/

Turmeric page. Cancer Research UK. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative-therapies/individual-therapies/turmeric

Joni, K.B. and Kuttan, R. “Effects of Oral Curcumin Administration on Serum Peroxides and Cholesterol Levels in Human Volunteers.” Pub Med. 1992. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1291482/