Turmeric, as a spice and medicinal herb, has been used for thousands of years in India and recently, studied more for its therapeutic benefits. This lovely spice that gives food a vibrant yellow colour contains the active ingredient, curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Will I get an anti-inflammatory effect from eating turmeric?
Certainly you can add turmeric to your curries, soup, smoothies and lattes but the amount of curcumin in the spice turmeric is only around 3% and dosages are usually around 1g/day, so it would be difficult to get enough. Supplements are available as an alternative.
The other issue to consider is the absorption of curcumin. On its own, it is very poorly absorbed from the gut, but bioavailability improves when it is mixed with black pepper or dissolved in oils as in many supplements.
What could turmeric be used for?
It can be used to fight inflammation in arthritis and other inflammatory or degenerative conditions. But low level inflammation is also thought to play a role in many long term diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, so reducing inflammation in the body may prevent or help to treat these conditions as well.
Does turmeric have antioxidant properties as well?
Yes, curcumin is a potent antioxidant that is thought to neutralise the action of free radicals in the body and may stimulate the action of other antioxidants, but more research is needed in this area.
When shouldn’t you take turmeric?
Turmeric is usually well tolerated but may cause mild side effects of stomach upset, nausea, dizziness or diarrhoea. It should be avoided as a supplement in pregnancy and lactation; with gallstones or bile duct obstruction; before surgery; with anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs. Our Pharmacists are always available to check if it the right supplement for you before you start taking it.