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Turmeric is an important spice in Indian and many South Asian cuisines where it has been used for centuries. Turmeric’s golden hue adds bright color to curry and other Indian dishes, but Indian and Asian cultures have also revered this spice for its natural anti-inflammatory curcuminoids.
Currently, there are over 12,500 peer-reviewed articles published proving turmeric benefits, especially one of its renowned healing compounds, curcumin. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric responsible for so many of its benefits. In fact, turmeric is even good for dogs thanks to this ingredient.
Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin. Many consumers and alternative health practitioners believe that this ingredient can treat inflammation and other conditions. Researchers have tested curcumin in clinical settings to investigate its potential as a natural health remedy but results have been inconsistent. Study authors often note that more independent, rigorous clinical trials are needed.
The association of turmeric and curcumin with weight loss is because of turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, according to Foods. Being overweight or obese is associated with the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These conditions are linked to chronic, low-grade inflammation. Many overweight and obese people are thought to have metabolic syndrome, which often results from excess weight and excessively large waist size, according to a January 2013 article in Nutrition Journal.
A 2009 study conducted on mice at the Tufts University, found that curcumin can actually suppress fat tissue growth. But similar research has not been done on humans. So it can’t be said with certainty if turmeric has the same effect on humans too.
Though turmeric suppresses the fat tissue growth and helps to reduce inflammation, it is no weight loss miracle. One should surely incorporate turmeric in their every meal. However, you also have to make sure you create a calorie deficit if you want to lose weight. The combination of right diet and exercise is what will help you lose weight in a healthy manner.
A growing body of evidence suggests that curcumin, a natural polyphenol derived from turmeric, can potentially act as an effective weight loss aid.
In 2015, Drs. Pierro, Giacomelli, and Bertuccioli were the first to show that curcumin can be an effective weight loss aid in people with metabolic syndrome who have been resistant to other weight loss interventions. In a study published by the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, the researchers examined a cohort of 44 subjects who had a metabolic syndrome, such as type II diabetes.
Indeed, the results were remarkable. The most important finding was that patients who were resistant to other weight loss methods benefitted from curcumin therapy; in fact, patients universally benefitted from curcumin therapy where other weight loss regimens like exercise programs had failed to show any significant benefit. However, the extent to which the patients benefited from curcumin therapy varied substantially. At a minimum, the curcumin patients lost 1.88% of their body weight over the course of the 30-day trial, whereas the sham supplement patients lost an average of 0% body weight. At a maximum, the curcumin patients lost 4.91% of their body mass. For someone who weighs 300 lbs, this means that curcumin caused them to lose between 5.64 and 14.73 lbs, an impressive yet comfortable amount if it could be maintained over the course of a few months. Importantly, the amount of weight loss in the curcumin group was well within the range of the safe rate of weight loss.
Conditions That May Benefit From Curcumin
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- High blood fats
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Pruritus (itchy skin)
Note that turmeric is not bioavailable. Taking regular curcumin supplements will unlikely provide benefits outside the gut [1, 2]. Some forms of Curcumin may be more bioavailable (such as CurcuBrain).
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa), most commonly known as the spice found in Curry, is not only known for its flavor, but for its purported health benefits as well.
Curcumin supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use. Supplements generally lack solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.
In 2009, Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications published a lab study out of Auburn University that explored the potential of curcuminoids to lower glucose levels. The study discovered that curcumin in turmeric is literally 400 times more potent than metformin (a common diabetes drug) in activating the enzyme AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase).
One compound produced by fermentation of curcumin, tetrahydrocurcumin, activated AMPK up to 100,000 times more than metformin in certain cells. AMPK activation is considered by researchers to be a “therapeutic target” for type 2 diabetes, meaning that figuring out how to activate this enzyme has major potential for developing more effective treatments for reducing insulin resistance and reversing diabetes.
Curcumin may help lessen the severity of symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), according to a study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2015. These symptoms include several forms of pain, such as backache, headache, breast tenderness, and abdominal pain.
For the study, 70 women with PMS were split into two groups. One group received two capsules of curcumin daily for seven days before menstruation and for three days after menstruation for three successive cycles, while the other group received a placebo for the same time period. By the study’s end, those given the turmeric compound showed a greater reduction in the severity of PMS symptoms.
When taken by mouth: Turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 12 months. Turmeric usually does not cause serious side effects. But some people can experience stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea.
In one report, a person who took very high amounts of turmeric, over 1500 mg twice daily, experienced a dangerous abnormal heart rhythm. However, it is unclear if turmeric was the actual cause of this side effect. Until more is known, avoid taking excessively large doses of turmeric.
Research suggests 500–2,000 mg of turmeric per day may have potential benefits, particularly in extract form.
The exact dose may depend on the medical condition, for which you seek help, though official dosing recommendations are unavailable.
The risk of side effects is minimal but turmeric supplements are unsuitable for some people.
As with any supplement, turmeric should be used with caution and you should discuss its use with your doctor.