Turmeric Benefits and Side Effects

turmeric benefits and side effects
turmeric benefits and side effects

As a superfood, turmeric, which is known also as “Indian saffron”, received much attention in both scientific and therapeutic fields. In this article, we will discuss all turmeric benefits and side effects.

In fact, it is a rhizomatous plant native to South Asia, that is used widely as a principal spice in India in their religious ceremonies.

Turmeric benefits in ayurveda:

Thousands of years ago, people knew turmeric for its medicinal use to treat various ailments in South Asia like:

  • Inflammation.
  • Poor digestion.
  • Irregular menstruation.
  • Respiratory conditions.
  • Infection, and many other health issues.

As turmeric or curcumin a principal ingredient in traditional therapeutic preparations, which has proven its safety and efficacy from ancient times. [1]

Turmeric contains over 100 active compounds, including volatile oils, curcuminoids.

Also, there are many other components responsible for its aroma and color.

As known, turmeric is popular with its bright yellow color due to a colored bioactive chemical compound called curcumin, which is a natural color for food.

In addition, curcumin is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid and α-linolenic acid. [2]   

Nowadays, modern turmeric benefits research haven’t overlooked the turmeric benefits and uses, as many studies were conducted to prove the claims related to its countless medicinal effects.

Later on, studies proved that turmeric specifically curcumin compound has the following therapeutic properties:

  1. Anti-inflammatory
  2. Anti-oxidative
  3. Neuroprotective
  4. Anticarcinogenic
  5. Hepatoprotective
  6. Thrombosuppressive
  7. Cardioprotective
  8. Antiarthritic
  9. Antiatherogenic
  10. Anti-fungal
  11. Anti-microbial
  12. Anti-bacterial

In this article we will discuss:

Turmeric benefits and side effects:

  1. Turmeric effect on healthy people.
  2. The effect of turmeric in fighting cancer.
  3. Turmeric improves neurodegenerative diseases.
  4. Supplements containing turmeric reduces arthritis pain.
  5. Turmeric benefits immune system as it fights infections (microbial, viral, fungal). 
  6. The effect of turmeric on respiratory disorders.
  7. Turmeric lowers blood sugar for diabetics and prevents diabetic complications.
  8. It lowers high cholesterol levels and prevents clogged arteries.
  9. Improves various skin conditions, including acne.
  10. Turmeric has a positive effect on inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease).
  11. Turmeric helps in weight reduction.

Other related topics include:

  1. Turmeric and curcumin safety and side effects.
  2. Are turmeric capsules and tablets good for you?
  3. Curcumin supplements in the market.

Turmeric effect on healthy people: [3]    

However, we need further studies to understand the turmeric mechanism of action. Although the dietary consumption over long periods of time proved that it can deliver the amazing health benefits turmeric holds.

Now, let’s discuss the turmeric benefits list on healthy people:

  1. Improves attention and memory tasks.
  2. It lowers the triglyceride level. Check out Do Foods High in Cholesterol Cause High Cholesterol
  3. Improves activity during exercise.
  4. Relieves anxiety and depression. 

Conditions that may benefit from turmeric:

Turmeric is packed with health wonders that will fascinate you, as it is known to be the major source of polyphenol compound called curcumin that has a wide range of medicinal effects, including proved healing outcomes on inflammation, oxidative stress, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, skin problems, respiratory disorders, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and many others, which makes turmeric capsules and tablets supplements good for your health.

Check out diabetic food exchange list.

Here are some common health conditions that studies proved turmeric efficacy in its treatment. 

The effect of turmeric on cancer:

Keeping in mind that cancers are caused by inflammation makes turmeric the right spice to go for to lower the risk of cancer development.

As studies revealed that curcumin can stop the initiation and survival of almost all kinds of tumor cells, including the following [4]:

  1. Leukemia
  2. Lymphoma
  3. Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  4. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  5. Multiple myeloma
  6. Gastrointestinal cancers 
  7. Prostate cancer
  8. Brain tumors
  9. Ovarian cancer
  10. Melanoma

Unfortunately, chemotherapeutic agents can be extremely expensive. Besides, the toxic effect it has not only on cancer cells but also on normal cells.

, studies showed that curcumin enhances tumor cell death through diverse mechanisms without affecting normal cells. This makes curcumin an attractive candidate for further studies and drug development. 

Also, curcumin is considered an inexpensive potential treatment that is free from any adverse effects.

However, turmeric can’t cure cancer alone and further studies are still needed for the development of an anticancer drug.

Still, it is beneficial to include curcumin in significant amounts in the diet. One of the interesting facts, that some countries that its people a who consume curcumin in their recipes regularly showed a lower number of incidents of all types of cancer like Southeast Asia countries.

Turmeric benefits brain & improves neurodegenerative diseases?

Studies show promising results of curcumin’s ability to prevent or delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases associated with neuroinflammation. As known, neuroinflammatory diseases cause nerves to lose its function or structure gradually. Neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

Fortunately, curcumin works as a neuroprotectant and shields nerves from the damage caused by inflammation. [5]   

Also, abnormal amyloid protein deposition can cause Alzheimer’s disease. However, Alzheimer’s disease may cause neuronal cell death and cognitive impairment.

Fortunately, recent studies showed that curcumin consumption decreases neuronal cell death and enhances the generation of new neurons resulting in improved cognitive and memory function. [6

Turmeric benefits arthritis:

There are many factors that cause osteoarthritis, including age, high-intensity sports, obesity, and bone deformity. After cause damage to the cartilage, ligaments, joint lining, and even bones. [7]

As a result, patients experience severe pain and stiffness in their knees, hips, spine, or hands.

Then, how turmeric benefits rheumatoid arthritis ?

The good news here that many clinical trials showed that curcumin formulations have the same effect on pain and inflammation as NSAIDs and Glucosamine. [8] So, turmeric helps joint pain relief.

Thanks to the strong anti-inflammatory effect turmeric make a natural safe healing spice to consume with no worries and still enjoys its therapeutic effect.

Curcumin can stop the osteoarthritis progression when taken as a powder or as encapsulated nanoparticle form supplements.

On the other hand, using it as a topical application has a stronger analgesic effect on pain associated with osteoarthritis. 

So, this is how turmeric benefits joints.

Turmeric benefits immune system:

Recent studies revealed that turmeric has a major role in defending our bodies against various infections owing to its anti-viral, antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

In addition, it exhibits an antimalarial effect as studies showed that it reduces blood parasite by 80%-90%. [9]

Turmeric can relieve respiratory disorders:

Firstly, curcumin ingestion plays a role in the control of respiratory complications as it eases cigarette smoke-induced lung inflammation and emphysema.

Also, because of its anti-inflammatory effect, it protects the lungs from the effects of diesel exhaust particles. [10]     

Turmeric benefits diabetes:

Curcumin shows amazing therapeutic effects on symptoms diabetic patients suffer from. As it relieves their pain through various mechanisms. So how turmeric benefits blood sugar levels in diabetics:

  1. It increases plasma insulin level and lipoprotein lipase activity (the hormone that enhances insulin sensitivity).
  2. Activates liver enzymes that improve lipid metabolism.
  3. Reduces blood glucose levels when you take it with vitamin C or yogurt. [11]

Furthermore, curcumin showed a therapeutic effect on liver disorders associated with diabetes. These disorders include fatty liver disease and other liver diseases.

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective and antilipolytic properties.

As curcumin reduces total cholesterol levels along with LDL levels in the blood. [12

Another manifestation associated with diabetes is diabetic neuropathy (nerve disorders) resulting from vascular injury triggered by diabetes.

As a result, it prevents the loss of neuroprotective function.

Moreover, it stops the deterioration of cognitive function arising from diabetes. [13]  

Another success for curcumin in the therapeutic field showed in its effect on the long-term diabetic complications like chronic diabetic nephropathy (kidney disorder), as studies confirmed the healing effect of curcumin on end-stage renal disease. [14

And these are other diabetic complications that curcumin also has a positive effect on [15]

  1.      Musculoskeletal disease.
  2.      Erectile dysfunction.
  3.      Diabetic gastroparesis.
  4.      Diabetic vascular disease.

Turmeric and high cholesterol levels:

Turmeric and curcumin ingestion shows amazing benefits for the cardiovascular system.

So, as studies showed that cardiovascular disease risk is lowered upon ingesting curcumin supplements orally for 6 months as it holds the following health effects: [1617]

  1. Natural cardioprotective agent.
  2. It lowers cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels.
  3. Stops the development of atherosclerosis as it has anti-atherogenic activity in low doses. [18]
  4. It lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes through the prevention of clogged arteries occurrence. [19]
  5. Shows a promising effect as a complementary treatment for heart failure. [20]

Turmeric benefits for skin:

No doubt, turmeric showed a marvelous success as an oral supplement for the treatment of a wide variety of health conditions through its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects, and so its topical application shows no fewer effects, as it improved many skin conditions upon its topical application or even oral supplementation. These conditions include [2122]:

  1. Scleroderma 
  2. Psoriasis
  3. Wound healing 
  4. Acne
  5. Alopecia
  6. Atopic dermatitis
  7. Pruritus 
  8. Radiodermatitis
  9. Facial photoaging  
  10. vitiligo

Turmeric benefits crohn’s disease:

curcumin is considered being a natural, safe inexpensive alternative for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).

These conditions are chronic autoimmune disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

Inflammatory bowel diseases may be either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis depending on the part affected in the gastrointestinal tract. 

Nevertheless, both conditions require long-term treatment, but, if these treatments didn’t improve the condition, surgical therapy is required. [23] Luckily, the powerful anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric can improve these conditions. [24

Turmeric benefits weight loss

Turmeric benefits for weight loss in people who are obese or overweight.

Consuming curcumin through oral supplements can prevent multiple health issues arising from obesity, including:

  • Insulin resistance.
  • Diabetes.
  • Inflammation.
  • Other metabolic disorders through suppressing the formation of new adipose tissues.[25]

Also, turmeric benefits blood sugar and improves insulin senstivity, so turmeric helps you lose weight when consuming a high-fat diet.

Check out other posts on weight loss:

Turmeric and curcumin safety and side effects:

One of the most commonly asked questions if the supplemented turmeric capsules are considered safe? and what is the dark side of this healthful spice? 

Generally, turmeric is safe for healthy individuals even when taken for long periods of time in normal amounts.

Also, it is safe as a topical application to the skin or if applied as an enema to the rectum, as people consuming it didn’t notice any serious adverse effects, yet some reported they experienced diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, and stomach discomfort.

However, some health conditions that require to be cautious while taking turmeric: [26]

  1. Pregnancy:

Turmeric has a stimulating effect on the uterus which makes it unsafe for pregnant to consume, as it may put the pregnancy at risk and cause abortion.

Nevertheless, due to the stimulating effect, it may promote the menstrual period.
2. Gallstones and bile duct obstruction:

Turmeric shouldn’t be used in these conditions as it may worsen gallbladder problems.

3. Bleeding problems: 

Turmeric slows down blood clotting, which makes it inappropriate to use when having bleeding problems, recent surgery or taking drugs that interfere with blood clotting such as warfarin.’

4. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD):

Turmeric may worsen (GERD) symptoms and cause stomach upset.

5. Infertility:

Planning to have babies may fail because of consuming turmeric supplements, as it lowers testosterone levels for men and slows down sperm movement, causing infertility.

6. Iron deficiency:

Turmeric can interfere with iron absorption causing iron deficiency to worsen.

7. Diabetes:

Diabetic patients taking insulin should be aware that turmeric might drop sugar levels significantly causing hypoglycemia. 

Are turmeric capsules and tablets good for you?

Nowadays, hundreds of turmeric and curcumin supplements invaded all over the markets.

However, the question is, are turmeric supplements as effective as consuming it in the raw form? And why can capsules and tablets be more effective than eating it as spice seasoning foods?

Unfortunately, curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric) has poor aqueous solubility and relatively low absorption from the gut in addition to its rapid elimination.

However, the good news here that some approaches to overcome the absorption problem and sustain its release within the body to reclaim the maximum benefit.

For that reason, various supplement formulations are invented that has higher health effect when taken compared with raw turmeric powder.

Knowing these formulations can help us choose the best supplement to buy


It is a nanoemulsions formulation made to enhance curcumin absorption. As studies revealed that encapsulated curcumin in hydrogel yields uniform dispersion and an increase of absorption 40 times compared to regular curcumin ingested orally.[ 27]  

Poly Lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA): 

Another formulation to enhance cellular curcumin uptake when taken orally. PLGA increases curcumin absorption 5.6 times and lengthen the time for its release in the body. [28]

Liposomal encapsulation: 

Delivering curcumin through this formulation increased its absorption speed and bioavailability, as it overcomes the poor aqueous solubility. Therefore, many formulations developed relying on this idea:

  1. Silica-coated flexible liposomes (CUR-SLs) 7.76 higher bioavailability.
  2. Flexible liposomes without silica-coatings (CUR-FLs) 2.35 higher bioavailability.
  3. N-trimethyl Chitosan chloride (TMC)-coated liposomes.
  4. Liposomes-propylene glycol liposomes (PGL) has the highest bioavailability.


This cyclic oligosaccharide formulation has greater skin cells permeability 1.8 times than free curcumin, in addition to its high bioavailability that may reach 10-20 times higher than free curcumin powder.[ 2930


Back to the natural compounds, pepperine present in the black pepper holds the master key for curcumin’s highest bioavailability. Combining black pepper along with curcumin shows a 2000% increase in curcumin bioavailability, in addition, it makes it stick longer in body tissues. [31]

Curcumin supplements in the market:

So, you felt that your batteries are low, tired all day and still you can’t sleep.

Your mind isn’t clear enough to concentrate on your job, out of mood, stuck in endless episodes of diarrhea and constipation, suffering from pain all over your body.

Then guess what, this is not how our bodies meant to function.

Having these symptoms for a long period may be a sign that chronic inflammation is getting over your body.

Unfortunately, chronic inflammation is a tremendous life-threatening condition and shouldn’t be overlooked, as it may develop serious health issues if left untreated.

Fortunately, the right curcumin supplements are the strongest sword that will help you win this battle against inflammation to reclaim your health and enjoy your life with a body full of energy.

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Finally, turmeric is an amazing plant with countless proven health benefits owing mainly to its anti-inflammatory effect that curcumin ingredient possesses.