Turmeric is a yellowish-orange plant root that belongs to the ginger family. It is believed to have originated from Asia but currently, it is grown in different parts of the world.
It is used all over the world as a spice for cooking different cuisines. And is also used as an active ingredient in the making of curry cooking spice.
In addition to all these, turmeric is believed to have medicinal properties. Some said it is effective for treating pain, high cholesterol, inflammatory and digestive related issues. However true this is, there are no concrete scientific backings to it.
Nonetheless, this write up will cover all the supposed benefits and side effects as well as the different ways to consume turmeric.
Benefits of Turmeric
As stated above, many claim that turmeric is effective for treating/preventing several health issues. These will be discussed below;
1). Treats Inflammation
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin. According to studies, curcumin has the potential of treating inflammation. When taken in the right dosage, curcumin can make turmeric extremely effective in treating diseases like arthritis, pancreatitis and bowel disease.
2). It contains Antioxidant property
As a result of the antioxidant property of turmeric, it effectively protects the body against damages from free radicals. Excess exposure to free radicals may cause diseases like; cancer, arthritis, heart disease etc.
3). It may treat viral diseases
According to laboratory research work, the curcumin present in turmeric may help fight against viral infections like; flu and herpes. However, note that the body does not absorb curcumin well enough. Therefore, drinking turmeric tea is not a guarantee way of treating viral infections, but it could help relief the symptoms.
4). It could protect/prevent heart disease
Curcumin has the potential of improving the health of the thin membrane that covers the interior of the heart and blood vessels. Blood pressure is regulated by this membrane. A decrease in the functionality of this membrane may result to aging and a rise in heart disease. Therefore, turmeric has the tendency of protecting the heart against diseases.
5). It could relief menstrual cramp
According to studies, curcumin supplements may help ease the cramps from premenstrual syndrome. Also, research done on rats and guinea pigs suggest that curcumin may likely ease menstrual cramps too.
6). It contains Antimicrobial property
Turmeric is believed to have antimicrobial properties. This antimicrobial property present in it, makes it effective for treating skin infections like eczema, acne, photo-aging etc.
7). Potential of treating Alzheimer’s disease
Although there are no scientific evidence to support this claim, turmeric is believed to treat Alzheimer’s disease due to it’s anti-inflammatory property.
8). Anti-aging supplements
The anti-inflammatory properties in it may protect the body against free radicals and potentially delay age-related diseases. Again, there are no scientific evidence to support the claim that turmeric directly increase lifespan.
9). It could treat/prevent headaches
People claim that turmeric treats and prevents headache. Others say it is very effective for treating migraine. But, there are no scientific backings to support this claim.
10). It may treat Arthritis
The compound curcumin that is present in turmeric, has the potential of relieving joint pain, stiffness and inflammation. Still, more research work is required before a finite conclusion can be drawn on it.
11). It may help treat/prevent Cancer
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory property. This may help in treating and preventing the spread as well as the growth of tumor cells.
12). It could treat Diabetes
Research done on animals has shown that curcumin may help treat and prevent diabetes. This is made possible by the presence of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in curcumin. Turmeric therefore may improve factors like insulin resistance and high blood sugar that contribute to diabetes.
13). It could help treat depression
Due to turmeric’s ability to increase levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), it shows promise as an effective treatment against depression. Research work done on humans showed improvements after curcumin medication was administered to people with depression over a period of time. Nonetheless, further studies are required for a conclusive report.
Side Effects of Turmeric
As good as turmeric may seem, excessive usage of its can have some negative effects. These effects will be discussed below;
1). Consuming turmeric by mouth
Small dosage of turmeric is considered safe when consumed over a short period of time. About 8 grams of curcumin was also considered safe when taken daily for a period of two months. But, it may lead to minor effects like; nausea, stomach upset, diarrhoea and dizziness when ingested in higher dosage over a longer period of time.
2). Effect of turmeric on the skin
Turmeric is safe when applied on the skin. However, it is important to carry out a skin patch test before using any products be it organic or otherwise. To do the test, apply a small amount of the product to a small part of your arm. Observe for any reaction like; itching, irritation or redness. If none of these symptoms are noticed then the product is suitable for your skin.
3). Effect on pregnancy and breastfeeding
Tumeric is safe to consume through food during pregnancy and breastfeeding. But, it is likely unsafe when taken in medicinal form during pregnancy. It has the potential of inducing menstruation or stimulating the uterus and that can put the pregnancy at risk. That said, it is advisable to avoid taking medicinal forms of tumeric during pregnancy. Currently, there are no solid information about the effect of taking medicinal forms of turmeric during breastfeeding but it is safer to avoid it altogether.
4). Effect of turmeric on people with bleeding disorder
Turmeric may decrease the level of blood clotting. This could increase the risk of bleeding and bruising in people with bleeding issues.
5). Effect on diabetes
Curcumin has the potential of reducing blood sugar level in people with diabetes. Therefore, extreme caution is required when using turmeric in order to avoid making the blood sugar level too low.
6). Effect on gallbladder
Turmeric may worsen the issue of gallstones or bile duct obstruction. Therefore, people with those health issues should avoid using it.
7). It could cause stomach disorder
It may lead to stomach upset when ingested in high dosage. People with the issue of gastro esophageal reflux disease should stop taking turmeric if it makes their symptoms worse.
8). Effect on fertility
Turmeric may decrease the level of testosterone as well as reduce the movement of sperm when it is ingested by men, and this could lower the level of fertility. When using it, cautious should be taken by men that are planning on having a baby.
9). Effect on surgery
As earlier stated, turmeric could reduce the rate of blood clotting. This may lead to excess bleeding during and after surgery. Avoid consuming it at least two weeks before your scheduled surgery date.
10). Effect when used as mouthwash
There has not been any recorded negative effect on the skin in the mouth when turmeric was used as mouthwash.
How to Use Turmeric
The positive and negative aspect of this plant has been discussed, now it’s time to talk about the best ways to use it for our benefits.
1). As face mask
Turmeric has tremendous benefits on the skin. It treats issues like acne and eczema. One of the best ways of using it on the skin is by applying it as a face mask. Read this: 4 best turmeric face mask for acne to know the different types of turmeric face mask and how to make them.
2). Used as Tea
When used as tea, it is consumed through the mouth and goes directly into the body. The health benefits and side effects of this method has been discussed earlier. Now let’s take a look at how we can prepare turmeric tea.
How to make turmeric tea
- 3 cups of water
- Fresh or powdered turmeric
- Lemon or orange juice.
- Pour the 3 cups of water in a pot
- Chop the fresh turmeric into small sizes and add them to the water.
- Or add 2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and stir.
- Let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes
- Strain the tea into a tea cup or mug
- Add honey, lemon or orange juice to taste.
- You may also add milk if you wish and enjoy your delicious tea.
The plant as we know it has numerous health benefits and some avoidable side effects. Most research work about it was carried out on animals so be cautious when using it and do not expect a miraculous result. As always, contact a medical practitioner before embarking on a turmeric therapy journey.