You might have heard somewhere that turmeric is good for inflammation. And someone asked on Facebook: “Does it work, how much should one take, and what are the side effects to be aware of?”
So let’s go over these together now 🙂
While you’re here, be sure to to subscribe for weekly nutrition updates about inflammation and health.
Turmeric is an indian spice that has been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicine so that’s already saying something right? At least in many instances I think traditional medicines used in places like India and China have a long and valid history.
Turmeric also has a solid footing in modern medicine.
A study I was reading in the Cancer Research Treatment Journal stated that there have been 100 clinical studies on curcumin (that’s the component in turmeric) and over 6000 citations, meaning it’s also mentioned in many other studies as well. So it’s probably one of the nutrients or spices that has been studied more than many others.
Turmeric contains over 300 different components but one of the most beneficial components is called curcumin as it’s this component that thas been associated with having various antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral, and antibacterial activities.
So does turmeric work for reducing inflammation?
Yes it does.
In fact it has been reported to help with ALL kinds of inflammation.
In the studies I’ve looked at turmeric has been reported to help with:
- heart conditions
- preventing oxidation
- respiratory issues
- liver issues – so this could help with diabetes and weight loss
- improving pancreatic function – same as above
- degenerative conditions
- reduce pain symptoms
- reduces cholesterol
Fat tissue is a very metabolically active tissue that produces many inflammatory molecules, I talked about fat tissue on this podcast. Turmeric reduces the inflammatory response in fat tissue and helps promote fatty acid oxidation. It exerts anti-inflammatory effects on macrophages. These are key immune cells that are often responsible to recruit other immune cells and also increase the initial inflammatory response.
Human studies have also shown that turmeric taken at 1-4 g a day effects total triglycerides, lowers LDL, raises HDL. Although research in this field is still young and there is still more evidence needed as most of the studies in this area have been done in animals.
I do have many more studies to wade through in order to gather more evidence but so far turmeric does appear to be very beneficial for inflammation.
Turmeric For Cooking
Many studies suggest that the bioavailability of turmeric is quite low, with only a small amount of it reaching the bloodstream.
For example: one clinical trial in women who had low grade inflammation were given 2.8 g/ day, eaten in culinary doses and at the end of the trial there was no difference to inflammatory markers.
So if you are using it in cooking it might only provide a small benefit. That doesn’t mean it provides no benefit and I still recommend using turmeric in cooking and teas because small amounts on a more frequent basis may accumulate.
Try this easy turmeric tea.
Green tea also happens to be highly anti-inflammatory, so combined they make a great combo.
You could also try:
However one way they have tried improving the availability of curcumin effectively is to encapsulate the curcumin in liposomes.
Liposomes are bilayer (double-layer), liquid-filled bubbles made from phospholipids. In studies it has been shown that taking it this way has a faster and more effective absorption rate. So you need to look for supplements where the turmeric is wrapped in phosopolipids or ones that contain black pepper extracts because that aids absorption as well.
And where the supplement says it contains a high level of curcuminoid, for example it might say 95% curcuminoid, this is a good thing because it has been modified to make the curcumin more soluble so that it is more bioavailable to the body.
As for how much to take, take 500-600 mg twice a day or as recommended on the product label.
Are there any side effects to turmeric?
As for it’s side effects, there haven’t been any reported.
Human clinical trials have shown that it is safe to take up to 8 g/day, which is about 8000 mg and most supplements only contain around 500-800 mgs so in general you should be pretty safe in regard to the amount you will take because 8 g is quite a high dose.
NOTE: People with gall stones or gall bladder issues should not take turmeric, or pregnant women and if you’re taking medications it’s always advised that you check with your doctor.
So that’s the run down on turmeric for inflammation. You’ve got nothing to lose in giving it a try and many people report benefits 🙂
Nutritionist & Health Coach