21 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits Of Curcumin

Turmeric is the latest buzz in the natural healthcare arena these days. Scientists have been focusing and studying its therapeutic value over 10 years now.

However most of the focus is not on the spice turmeric but on a special compound found in it. And that is curcumin.

Curcumin is one of the bioactive ingredients found in turmeric. It is found in combination two other compounds and collectively they are known as curcuminoids. Not much is known about the nature of curcumin or why curcumin has so many health benefits!

They impart the brilliant orange yellow hue to the spice and are natural antioxidants. The reason why curcumin is getting all the buzz is that it is versatile or as scientists call it ‘Pleiotropic’ in nature.

Pleiotropic means that a single molecule can interact with various biochemical targets and pathways in the body.

And that is the reason why curcumin comes with whooping health benefits, be it something mild as tackling a seasonal flu or even a major health concern like drug resistant cancer. Here are some awesome scientifically proven health benefits of curcumin that every turmeric lover should know.

21 Awesome Science Backed Health Benefits Of Curcumin

Here is a list of some major therapeutic and pharmacological properties of curcumin that benefit in various health conditions and protect overall health.

1. Curcumin reduces inflammation rapidly

turmeric powderInflammation is a necessary biological process in wound healing and fighting infection. But in a diseased condition, inflammation is a key player in disease progression.

Curcumin has natural anti-inflammatory property. It acts on key mediators of inflammation such as COX and LOX enzymes, Tumor necrosis factor alpha, Interleukins etc.

Since it acts on multiple biochemical targets at once, in comparison to conventional drugs that target only a particular inflammatory agent, curcumin is able to reduce inflammation significantly.

This anti-inflammatory action of curcumin benefits in various conditions. A recent study published in Biomed & Pharmacotherapy, 2016 reported that supplementation of curcumin 1g per day reduced inflammation in metabolic syndrome. This evidenced by reduction in inflammatory parameters like TNF-α, IL-6, TGF-β and MCP-1.

Similarly curcumin supplementation is found to reduce systemic inflammation in patients suffering from tumors and receiving chemotherapy.

Yu et. al demonstrated that curcumin supplementation with standard antidepressants decreases inflammatory cytokines interleukin 1β and tumor necrosis factor α level in major depressive disorder.

What does this mean?
Curcumin interacts with various biochemical pathways in order to reduce inflammation that benefits in various conditions like arthritis, depression, metabolic syndrome, obesity etc.

2. Curcumin improves antioxidant defences

Curcumin and the other curcuminoids are natural antioxidants and their antioxidant activity is comparable to vitamin C and E.

As an antioxidant curcumin brings about the following change in improving natural antioxidant defences in the body:
• It raises the level of antioxidant enzymes
• It prevents lipid peroxidation- a marker of oxidative damage.
• It scavenges free radical species that cause oxidative damage and destruct tissues.

A study published in Nutrition and Cancer, 2016 reported the efficacy of curcumin in improving antioxidant status in individuals suffering from prostate cancer and receiving radiotherapy.

3g curcumin supplementation per day was found to increase total antioxidant capacity in patients suffering from prostate cancer.

A study published in Phytotherapy Research, 2011 compared the effect of curcumin on antioxidant status of healthy individuals with vitamin E. Three groups were made: one group received 500mg curcumin, second group received 6g curcumin and third group received 200 IU vitamin E.

500mg curcumin increased antioxidant capacity from 13% to 24% while 6g curcumin brought about a 19-20% increase. Researchers concluded that low dose curcumin can effectively raise antioxidant capacity.

What does this mean?
Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that enhances natural antioxidant defences in healthy individuals as well as in diseased conditions.

3. Curcumin has broad spectrum anti-microbial activity

Turmeric is traditionally used as an antiseptic and first aid in external wounds owing to its anti-microbial action.

A review study published in Biomed Research International, 2014 documents the broad spectrum anti-microbial action of curcumin against various infection causing organisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.

Research shows that curcumin exerts anti-viral activity against viruses that cause flu. (Read Turmeric for Flu).

Curcumin exerts anti-viral activity against HIV, Herpes simplex virus and even Ebola virus. (Read Turmeric for HIV and AIDS, Turmeric for Herpes)

Experimental studies show that curcumin acts against bacteria Helicobacter pylori, the primary cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Curcumin also remedies Candida infection. (Read Turmeric for Candida)

What does this mean?
Curcumin’s broad spectrum anti-microbial action inhibits infections caused by different organisms including fungi, viruses and bacteria. This property of curcumin aids in infectious conditions ranging from flu to HIV or even gastric infections.

4. Curcumin is a natural painkiller

Curcumin has natural analgesic or pain relieving properties. It relieves pain by reducing inflammatory parameters.

It can attenuate neuropathic pain which is a chronic state of pain caused by damaged nerve fibres. (Read Turmeric for Various kinds of Pain)

Curcumin even interacts with endogenous opioid system in order to attenuate pain. It reduces tolerance and may help in replacing opioid painkillers. (Read Can turmeric replace opioid painkillers?)

Curcumin has anti-spasmodic action that also aids in pain relief. (Read How Turmeric Relieves Muscle Spasms)

A study published in Journal of Pain Research, 2013 reveals that a bioavailable formulation of curcumin (2g Meriva) has pain relieving action comparable to conventional painkillers nimesulide and paracetamol.

Nicol et.al demonstrated that curcumin’s pain relieving action can attenuate delayed onset muscle soreness and pain and enhance performance and muscle recovery.

What does this mean?
Curcumin has natural pain relieving properties that can help reduce pain arthritis, post workout soreness or even spasmodic pain.

5. Curcumin benefits brain health and nervous system

Cole et.al have documented the neuroprotective (protects brain health) action of curcumin. Curcumin prevents amyloid beta accumulation in Alzheimer’s disease. (Read Turmeric for Alzheimer’s)

Curcumin restores dopamine levels, protects nerve cells from damage and prevents Lewy body formation in Parkinson’s. (Read Turmeric for Parkinson’s)

It can prevent occurrence of stroke. (Read Turmeric for stroke) It improves memory and cognition in aging brain. (Read Turmeric for Aging Brain)

Lately curcumin’s antidepressant potential has also gained a lot of attention by researchers. (Read Turmeric for Depression, Turmeric for Bipolar disorder)

What does this mean?
Curcumin protects brain health and nervous system by preventing neurodegenerative diseases. It also benefits in conditions like depression and anxiety.

6. Curcumin remedies eye related disorders

As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, curcumin benefits in various eye related disorders.

As an antioxidant curcumin can benefit in treatment of cataract formation and prevent it in first place. (Read Turmeric for cataract)

Curcumin can protect from diabetes related eye complications. Research shows that curcumin supplementation is as effective as steroid treatment in chronic anterior uveitis. (Read Turmeric benefits for Uveitis)

What does this mean?
Research proves that curcumin can help in various eye disorders like uveitis, catatract and active research is being conducted to design suitable formulation for the same.

7. Curcumin maintains oral health

Curcumin’s anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effect benefits oral health. (Read Turmeric for Dental Health and Oral Hygiene)

Leite et.al have suggested that curcumin can be a viable oral mouthwash for reducing oral germs.

A study published in International Journal of Pharmaceutical Investigation, 2014 revealed that curcumin is as effective as steroids in treatment of apthous ulcers or recurrent oral ulcers.

Muglikar et.al have found that curcumin is as effective as chlorhexidine in terms of reducing inflammation in gingivitis.

What does this mean?
Curcumin protects and benefits oral health by reducing oral microflora and reducing inflammation.

8. Curcumin protects lungs from respiratory diseases

Curcumin has proven anti-asthmatic properties and various attempts are being made to design curcumin formulations to treat asthma. (Read Turmeric for asthma)

Curcumin also benefits in COPD and research suggests that it may prevent COPD from progressing into cancer. (Read Turmeric for COPD)

Experimental studies reveal that curcumin can protect lungs from nicotine or smoking induced toxicity. (Read Turmeric for Smoking induced side effects)

Venkatesan et.al have acknowledged the therapeutic efficacy of curcumin in various respiratory disorders and suggest that by its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action curcumin can benefit in lung disorders.

What does this mean?
Curcumin demonstrates therapeutic potential in various lung and respiratory disorders like asthma, COPD, acute lung injury etc.

9. It protects heart health

Curcumin is a heart friendly nutraceutical. (Read Turmeric for Heart Health)

As a cardioprotective agent, research suggests it may benefit in cardiac arrhythmia, congenital heart disease, ischemia repurfusion injuries etc.

A study published in American Journal of Cardiology, 2012 demonstrated that curcumin reduced incidence of heart attack after heart surgery to 13.1% thus offering cardiopotection and aiding in recovery.

A study published in Atherosclerosis, 2014 demonstrates that curcumin can attenuate diet induced atherosclerosis. Curcumin’s anti-platelet activity can benefit in thrombosis and help maintain anti-coagulant status. (Read Turmeric for thrombosis)

Curcumin is as effective as exercise in improving vascular health in postmenopausal women. Science shows that curcumin has anti-hypertensive or blood pressure reducing properties. (Read Turmeric for hypertension)

What does this mean?
Curcumin is excellent for heart and vascular health. It lowers cholesterol levels, prevents atherosclerosis and normalizes blood pressure. It can protect from heart attack and improve cardiac recovery post surgery.

10. It benefits in metabolic diseases

Curcumin effectively lowers cholesterol levels. Yang et.al demonstrated that curcumin supplementation at a dose of 630mg thrice a day for 12 weeks effectively lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels and raised good cholesterol levels in patients suffering from metabolic syndrome.

Curcumin supplementation is found to hasten and increase weight loss outcomes of lifestyle and dietary changes.

This study reported that curcumin increased weight loss from 1.88 to 4.91% and improved waistline reduction from 2.36% to 4.14%.

Research shows that 9 month curcumin therapy can reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes. (Read Turmeric for prediabetes)

Co administration of curcumin with conventional anti-diabetic therapy helps in better blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. (Read Turmeric for diabetes)

What does this mean?
Curcumin has blood sugar lowering and cholesterol lowering properties that benefit in metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Curcumin also has anti-obesity property that helps speed up weight loss.

11. It supports good liver health

Curcumin is hepatoprotective in nature- it protects liver health. Primarily curcumin’s antioxidant and cholesterol lowering action benefits liver health.

Curcumin protects liver from alcohol induced toxicity. (Read Turmeric for Alcoholism)

Curcumin supplementation also benefits in Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. A study published in Phytotherapy Research, 2016 reported that supplementation with bioavailable curcumin equivalent to 70mg curcumin resulted in significant reduction in liver fat and a 78.9% improvement was observed in NAFLD.

Curcumin exerts anti-fibrotic action that benefits in liver cirrhosis. (Read Turmeric Benefits for Liver cirrhosis)

Curcumin protects liver function and prevents hepatotoxicity caused by drugs, toxic elements, carcinogens etc.

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and anti-viral action benefits in hepatitis. (Read Turmeric for Hepatitis)

What does this mean?
Curcumin raises the level of antioxidant enzymes and protects liver from toxic compounds. It also protects from diseased conditions like liver cirrhosis and non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

proven health benefits of curcumin

12. Curcumin protects stomach health

Turmeric, as per traditional medicine, is known to improve digestion and even research proves that curcumin has gastroprotective action.

Curcumin’s anti-microbial action may benefit in H.pylori infection. Experimental studies suggest it may prevent gastric ulcer formation.

Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may cause gastric erosion and ulcers on chronic long term use. Curcumin is found to protect drug induced gastric ulcers.

Curcumin also holds benefits in gastroesophageal reflux disease but those sensitive to developing acid reflux must be cautious about the dose of curcumin. (Read Turmeric for GERD, Can turmeric cause acid reflux?)

Curcumin benefits in Inflammatory Bowel Disease by virtue of its anti-inflammatory and immune modulating activity. Results of a clinical trial suggest that curcumin in combination with mesalamine therapy induces remission in mild to moderate ulcerative colitis in 4 weeks.

Curcumin in combination with fennel oil is found to ameliorate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. (Read Turmeric for IBS)

What does this mean?
Curcumin protects stomach health and remedies conditions like gastric ulcer, IBD and IBS.

13. It protects kidney from diseases

Trujillo et.al have documented the renoprotective or kidney protective effect of curcumin. (Read Turmeric for Kidney disorders)

Curcumin protects from nephrotoxicity caused by drugs or heavy metal contamination. It protects from diabetes related kidney complications. 500mg supplementation of curcumin in type 2 diabetes patients is found to improve antioxidant defences and reduce urinary albumin excretion.

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory action can benefit in chronic kidney disease and renal fibrosis. Its anti-microbial action can benefit in urinary tract infection. (Read Turmeric for UTI)

Curcumin can prevent kidney stone formation. (Read Can turmeric cause kidney stones?)

What does this mean?
Curcumin benefits kidney health by virtue of its antioxidant and detoxifying effects.

14. Curcumin protects bone health

Curcumin helps maintain bone health. Studies suggest that curcumin inhibits the activity of osteoclasts (bone tissue absorbing cells) and supports the development of osteoblasts (bone tissue building cells).

This activity of curcumin protects from bone loss and benefits in osteoporosis.

One popular therapeutic application of curcumin is arthritis. Tumeric and curcumin have anti-arthritic property.

Chandran et.al have demonstrated that curcumin is as effective as non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac sodium in alleviating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Daily supplementation of 150mg of Theracurmin is found to alleviate knee pain and improve health in osteoarthritis.

A study published in Orthopaedic Surgery, 2015 reports that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties can benefit in various musculoskeletal disorders.

What does this mean?
Curcumin offers protection in various musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis, osteoporosis, sarcopenia etc.

15. Curcumin is excellent for the skin

Ayurveda, Indian Traditional Medicine System recommends turmeric use for various skin disorders. Even research confirms the role of curcumin in skin related disorders.

Oral curcumin in combination with topical steroids is found to reduce inflammation in psoriasis vulgaris. (Read Turmeric for psoriasis)

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory action may benefit in dermatitis. (Read Turmeric for Eczema)

Experimental study suggests that curcumin’s anti-microbial action can benefit in acne. Curcumin’s ability to regulate collagen levels and skin regenerative potential can help in wound healing.

What does this mean?
Curcumin benefits in various skin conditions like psoriasis, scleroderma, dermatitis, acne etc.

16. Curcumin is beneficial for female reproductive system

Curcumin is a proven phytoestrogen and this property can benefit in various disorders associated with female reproductive system. (Read How Turmeric Benefits Female Reproductive system)

A study in humans demonstrated that curcumin supplementation prior and after menstruation helped alleviate premenstrual syndrome.

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and anti-Candida action can benefit in conditions like vaginitis and leucorrhoea. (Read Turmeric for Vaginitis, Turmeric for Leukorrhoea)

Curcumin attenuates abnormal endometrial growth and benefits in endometriosis. (Read Turmeric for endometriosis)

Curcumin can benefit in other conditions like PCOS and uterine fibroids owing to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. (Read Turmeric for PCOS, Turmeric for Uterine fibroids)

Menopause and post-menopausal phase brings a number of changes in a woman’s health and curcumin’s multiple therapeutic properties help in easing out the symptoms during this phase. (Read 11 benefits of Turmeric in Menopause)

What does this mean?
Research studies suggest that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and phytoestrogenic activity can benefit female health. It benefits in various conditions like endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome, uterine fibroids etc.

17. It benefits male reproductive health

Research suggests that a novel water soluble derivative of curcumin is better than Sildenafil & Tadanafil in treating erectile dysfunction. (Read Turmeric for Male Reproductive Health)

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory action benefits in conditions like benign prostate enlargement and prostatitis.

The anti-microbial action of curcumin can protect against sexually transmitted infections. (Read Turmeric for STDs)

What does this mean?
Curcumin benefits male reproductive health as an anti-microbial agent, anti-inflammatry and anti-cancer agent.

18. Curcumin has anti-cancer property

Turmeric is well acknowledged by scientists and lately even by us common crowd as potent natural anti-cancer agent.

Curcumin also possesses anti-cancer property. (Read Turmeric for Cancer, Turmeric/Curcumin Dosage For Cancer)

3000+ studies have been recorded in Pubmed database which examine curcumin’s anti-cancer action and investigate its mechanism of action.

Curcumin acts over 30+ biochemical targets in order to kill cancer cells. (Read How Turmeric Redesigns Cancer Cell’s Mortality)

It has anti-metastatic and anti-angiogenic which prevents spread of cancer. (Read How Turmeric Inhibits Angiogenesis In Cancer, 8 Ways Turmeric Can Prevent Cancer Metastasis)

Even topical application of curcumin is found to benefit in treating external cancerous lesions. (Read 6 Benefits of Topical Turmeric In Cancer)

Curcumin has radioprotective and chemoprotective properties that help in protecting from side effects of conventional cancer therapy. (Read Turmeric: Natural Protector From Chemo and Radio Side Effects)

What does this mean?
Curcumin has broad spectrum anti-cancer activity ; it can simultaneously act on various biochemical targets in order to kill cancer cells and prevent proliferation. It can also serve as an adjunctive therapy and help control side effects of cancer therapy.

19. It ameliorates autoimmune conditions

Various studies have documented the immunomodulatory action of curcumin; it can regulate immune responses.

As an immunomodulatory agent, it prevents inappropriate immune responses and activation of immune cells. It also can enhance immune responses in case of infectious conditions.

This immune regulating action of curcumin benefits in lupus. (Read Turmeric for lupus) Curcumin’s immunomodulating activity also contributes to its anti-allergic action.

Curcumin’s hypoglycaemic or blood sugar lowering effect benefits in diabetes. Experimental studies suggest that curcumin can help repair pancreas cells in type 1 diabetes. (Read Turmeric benefits in diabetes)

Curcumin’s immunomodulatory action can benefit in autoimmune conditions of nervous system like multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune conditions like psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. (Read 7 Autoimmune disorders Turmeric helps)

What does this mean?
Curcumin’s immune regulating action can benefit in various autoimmune conditions like psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis etc. It also exerts anti-allergic action.

20. It speeds up wound healing

One of the simplest first aid practises followed in India is topical application of turmeric to open wounds to control bleeding and ward off infection.

A study published in Life Sciences, 2014 reveals the mechanism of action of curcumin that assists in wound healing. Researchers state that it acts on various stages of natural wound healing to accelerate wound healing process.

It acts as a procoagulant to stop bleeding, supports formation of granulation tissue and deposition of collagen which aid in scab formation. It enhances tissue formation and wound contraction to speed up healing.

Curcumin even acts against microbes that infect wounds. Experimental studies suggest that it can assist in healing of burn wounds.

What does this mean?
Curcumin can speed up wound healing and serve as a natural alternative first aid option.

21. Curcumin protects from toxicity

turmericCurcumin functions as a chelator- it binds to heavy metal ions and toxic elements and helps in eliminating them from the body. (Read Turmeric for Lead poisoning, Turmeric for Aluminium toxicity)

Curcumin prevents liver toxicity caused by drugs like paracetmol. (Read How Turmeric Protects From Drug Induced Side Effects)

It can counteract harmful effects of smoking and drinking on the liver. (Read How Turmeric Benefits In Alcoholism)

Curcumin, as an antioxidant, ameliorates such nicotine induced oxidative stress and protects lung from smoking induced toxicity. (Read Turmeric’s Protection From Smoking Toxicity)

It is also found to protect the liver from many cancer causing agents and environmental toxins.

Curcumin also protects from foodborne pathogens and dietary carcinogens. (How Cooking with Turmeric Protects your Food and Makes It Healthier)

What does this mean?
Curcumin protects the body from toxicity from various sources such as heavy metals, environmental toxins, drugs, smoking etc. It also protects from food borne pathogens and cancer causing agents.

Dosage of Curcumin For Daily Health Benefits

Turmeric as a herb or spice contains around 3-4% curcumin. Simply including turmeric in diet can give you your daily dose of curcumin.

However some conditions may require high doses of curcumin in which case one may have to opt for curcumin supplements.  A dose of 300-400mg standardized 95% curcumin 2-3 times a day is advised.

Curcumin by itself is poorly absorbed in the body. Piperine in black pepper or fats help in absorption. Most curcumin supplements have piperine or other adjuvants to aid in absorption. (Read How to improve turmeric’s bioavailability)

It is advisable to consult a health practitioner about type of curcumin supplement and dosage. Most studies utilise standardised 95% curcumin extract with piperine at a dose of 1000mg. However higher or lower dose may also be prescribed depending on the condition.

It is best to start on a low dose and increase gradually to avoid stomach discomfort. Also it is better to take curcumin supplements after meals and avoid taking it close to the time of taking any medications.

Precautions

Always start with small doses of curcumin to avoid gastric discomfort. Starting with high doses may cause symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea etc. Increasing dosage gradually helps in attenuating such symptoms.

Rule out any chances of allergen which could be evidence by skin rashes or major gastric symtopms. In that case immediately discontinue use of curcumin.

Curcumin has anti-platelet property; hence those on blood thinners or suffering from bleeding risk should avoid curcumin supplements or consult a doctor prior. It is for this very reason that it is advised to discontinue turmeric or curcumin 2 weeks prior to surgical procedures.

Curcumin causes gall bladder contraction and hence may cause pain in those suffering from gallstones or active gallbladder obstruction.

Curcumin supplements should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation.

Curcumin interferes in drug metabolism. Hence it is advised to not to take curcumin supplements concomitantly with any medication. A 3-4 hour gap should be maintained.

Please consult a health practitioner before taking curcumin supplements.

Conclusion

Curcumin, owing to its unique structure, possesses multiple pharmacological and therapeutic properties that benefit in general health and various disorders.

It can also serve as a preventive measure against many diseases. Or it can even help maintain good health. (Read 6 Reasons To take Turmeric even when you are Healthy)

Simply including turmeric in diet is a great way of getting curcumin. If opting for curcumin supplements please consult a health practitioner prior.

If you are taking curcumin already do share your experience with us.

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About the Author

TurmericForHealthTeam

Turmeric for Health's writer team consists of passionate writers from the fields of biotechnology, pharmacy, nutrition, Ayurveda & microbiology.Our writers are highly qualified with many having Ph.D., M.Tech & MSc degrees while others having B.Tech, BSc, B.Pharm. Our differentiation lies in researching and presenting ONLY FACTUAL SCIENTIFIC information. We spend 10s of hours to write a single article. Info of our articles is sourced from reliable scientific sources which are also provided as a link alongside for readers to refer if they want. You can read more about our team in the " About us" section.

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2 Comments

    1. Hi. We recommend 1 tsp of Golden Paste three times a day for general health benefits but 1-2 tsp daily is fine. Start with small doses and increase the dose gradually.