What are the Health Benefits of Turmeric?

With everyone sipping their turmeric latte, what are the health benefits of turmeric and is there any evidence to back up the claims?

What is tumeric?

Turmeric is a plant from the ginger family, and dried is turned into the spice that sits in many people’s kitchen cupboards.

What are the perceived health benefits of turmeric?⁠

There is now emerging evidence from randomised controlled trials that supplementation can be as effective for treating pain from arthritis as ibuprofen / diclofenac (NSAIDs), but without the side-effects seen from these drugs. ⁠

Can I get the same effect from eating or drinking turmeric juices? ⁠⁠

The bioactive ingredient in turmeric which makes the plant yellow, is called Curcumin. Curcumin makes up only 3% of the turmeric plant. Studies have looked at therapeutic doses of 500-1000mg curcumin to see an effect.⁠

If you take a turmeric shot, with 5g of turmeric, this would equate to approximately 150mg of Curcumin. Therefore, in order to get to a therapeutic level you would need to drink a number of shots. Eating a spoonful of the dried turmeric spice, or having a turmeric latte, is unlikely to provide enough curcumin to be effective.⁠

What about Turmeric and Black Pepper?

The quantity of turmeric need to replicate the studies using curcumin is huge. Piperine, one of the main active ingredients in black pepper, increases the bioavailability of curcumin, although most studies have been performed using piperine, not black pepper. At present there isn’t evidence that black pepper can increase the bioavailability of turmeric enough to be comparable to the studies of curcumin.

Summary

So drink turmeric chia, or lattes because you love them instead of for health benefits.

References

Shep et al. Safety and efficacy of curcumin versus diclofenac in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized open-label parallel-arm study. Trials. 2019; 20:214

W D, YangMini, et al. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. 2016.

Georg Thieme Verlag et al. Influence of Piperine on the Pharmacokinetics of Curcumin in Animals and Human Volunteers. 2007.

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