13 Awesome Ways Curcumin Benefits Skin Health

Skin comprises the largest organ of the human body. Along with making ourselves look fresh and young, there are many reasons why keeping our skin healthy is important.

It performs a variety of functions such as protecting us from harmful pathogens and environmental conditions. It is also important in maintaining body temperature through regulation of the body’s responses to hot and cold stimuli.

Skin serves the purpose of storage by keeping fats and metabolites accumulated at deeper layers. Considering all these functions, giving adequate nutrition to the skin is imperative.

What is curcumin?

Curcumin is a yellow compound that can be extracted from the spice, turmeric. It is highly bioactive and polyphenolic and its administration elicits several positive effects on the human body.

Most notably, it acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Over the past 50 years, a multitude of scientific studies has been conducted indicative of the compound’s immunity boosting properties.

Some researchers refer to it as ‘curecumin’ as it helps treat some diseases through regulation of enzymatic and genetic reactions. Through clinical trials and in lab processes possible applications of curcumin as a pharmaceutical are under exploration.

13 Awesome Science Backed Benefits of Curcumin for Skin

Curcumin is believed to have excellent skin rejuvenating capacities. Increasing scientific evidence is indicative of its ability to act on damaged or aging skin cells and repair them.Some of the benefits of using curcumin to obtain healthy skin have been listed as follows:

1. It accelerates wound healing

Wound healing is a complex process which takes place in several stages. These include coagulation, inflammation, accumulation of radical substances, contraction of wound and formation of granulation tissue and scar.

These processes are slow and require a catalyst, such as curcumin to ensure better repair to the damaged site.

Through Cheppudira et al. 2013 study it was revealed that curcumin shows promise for treatment of burn pain and wounds as was analyzed through several clinical and pre-clinical studies.

These findings promoted many other researchers to examine the wound healing effects of the compound.

Curcumin mediated accelerated wound healing in an animal model. This was brought about via radical scavenging activity.

This effect was also seen when an ethanol mix containing curcumin successfully combated the healing retardation ability of the drug aspirin and helped wound recovery to take place at a faster pace.

Considering the growing popularity of the compound and its increased usage, scientists decided to analyze its efficiency in healing wounds in the human body. This study was conducted on patients who had undergone a Caesarean operation.

The experiment was carried out by evaluating the REEDA scale, a measure of redness and swelling of surgical scars, in these individuals post administration of curcumin.

It was seen that along with providing positive results in healing the wounds its rate of action was much faster than the regular healing process.

What does this mean?
Curcumin helps in wound healing through various antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. It also accelerates the process by stimulating necessary cytokines.

2. It repairs oily skin condition and prevents acne

Sebum is a waxy lipid substance secreted by glands located in the layers of our skin. It is meant to lubricate the skin and give it a waterproof property. However, excessive sebum secretion can give skin a sticky and irritating feeling along with causing pimple formation.

As per a study conducted by Shahiquz Zaman and Naveed Akhtar comparing a facial cream composed of turmeric extracts to a control showed that the use of a curcumin base significantly reduces sebum secretion.

Through analysis studies, they determined that the antioxidant levels of the curcumin cream were as high as 88.5% helping it drive away excess oil from the skin surface. This property is very helpful for people who suffer from acne formation.

What does this mean?
The use of curcumin provides a potential remedy for sebum induced acne. It lowers oil levels on the skin surface and enables removal of toxic free radical molecules.

3. It protects against sun damage

Excess exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiations, in particular, that of the form UV-B has damaging effects on the skin causing aging, irritation and in severe conditions, skin cancer. Scientists have shown that curcumin can act as a photo protective agent.

In a study, it was shown that the use of curcumin on skin reduced sun exposure induces signs of aging such as wrinkles and elasticity. The mode through which this was carried out was by increasing the volume of blood vessels as seen in an animal model.

Another study showed that curcumin administration aided sun damaged skin by eliminating harmful chemicals known as reactive oxygen species. The compound also successfully regulated moisture levels and sebum secretion.

What does this mean?
By promoting photo protective activity, curcumin can stop sun exposure induced signs of aging and accelerate the moisturizing process.

4. It has anti-aging effect

Free radicals are harmful chemicals found in our body in an unbound state. These are kept in check by antioxidant compounds.

If the rate of build-up of free radicals exceeds the rate of their elimination, a toxic condition known as oxidative stress takes place. In the presence of oxidative stress, the rate of skin aging and wrinkle appearance accelerates.

Lima CF et al. discovered that curcumin could help moderate cellular stress levels and maintain the youth of skin.

Through their experiment based on studying the reaction of human cell fibroblasts, cells that form groups of extracellular components and collagen, they saw that curcumin exhibits a ‘hormetic’ effect on human skin.

This means that at low doses it is beneficial but toxic at higher levels. Through this finding, they were able to see a beneficial anti-aging effect on the fibroblasts at low doses carried out by antioxidant activity of curcumin.

What does this mean?
It can be implied from this study that curcumin could be potentially used as an antioxidant and to eradicate harmful free radicals which are the main cause of aging. It reduces oxidative stress by improving antioxidant activity.

5. It prevents skin cancer

Exposure to UV radiations is one of the chief causes of skin cancer. This causes the production of reactive oxygen species which do not allow our body’s repair enzymes to function. The ability of curcumin to combat this problem was studied using a suitable animal model.

The individuals affected by skin squamous cell carcinoma were treated with curcumin extracts.

Over time it was observed that the conditions of unregulated cell multiplication in the skin cells improved due to the growth inhibiting effects of the curcumin extracts. The expression of repair enzymes was also improved.

What does this mean?
Curcumin extracts are useful in the treatment of skin cancers, and they exert growth inhibitory effect on cancerous cells. They also activate the production of repair enzymes which then fixes damage at the affected sites.

6. It is effective against chronic skin diseases like scleroderma

Curcumin is useful in the treatment of many other skin diseases.

In 2007, the Journal of Advances in experimental and medicinal biology highlighted the main causes of the skin healing powers of the compound. Curcumin prevents cancers and skin problems like scleroderma and psoriasis primarily due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

It eliminates toxic free radicals and also suppresses pro inflammatory molecules like nuclear factor-KB. The compound also speeds up wound and scar healing through the process of angiogenesis, i.e., rapid blood vessel generation.

What does this mean?
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities of curcumin are helpful in the treatment of skin diseases as they eliminate free radicals and inhibit substances which cause flare ups. In the case of wounds due to injuries, it can accelerate healing.

curcumin benefits skin health

7. It has skin regenerative abilities

Skin regeneration is a complex process that takes place in a multitude of stages.Thangapazham et al. analysed the various pathways through which curcumin usage helps in skin generation through a clinical trial.

Their findings suggested that the compound targeted a multitude of mechanisms. Along with curbing oxidative stress and inflammation it also lowers the impacts of toxins and harmful enzymes in the bloodstream on the skin.

This renders it useful for pharmacological use in wound healing along with diseases like psoriasis and vitiligo.

What does this mean?
Curcumin helps in skin regeneration through various antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities. It also accelerates the process by inhibiting unnecessary toxins and enzymes.

8. It resolves skin inflammation

Inflammation is one of the chief influences of irritation and swelling at an affected site. It takes place due to the body’s attempts to repair damage caused by a wound or infection.

In 2003, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study focused on the safety and compatibility of curcumin with the needs of the human body. The researchers curated multiple in vivo and in vitro studies of the compound to conclude its highly potent anti-inflammatory effects.

The evidence of such abilities was provided through six successful clinical trials and follow up laboratory investigations which showed that curcumin blocked several pro-inflammatory markers like nitric oxide, collagenase, elastase, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and interleukin-12 (IL-12).

What does this mean?
The use of curcumin provides a potential remedy for inflammation. It lowers swelling and enables deactivation of inflammatory molecules.

9. It boosts antioxidant defenses

Free radicals are harmful chemicals found in our body in an unbound state. These are kept in check by antioxidant compounds. If the rate of build-up of free radicals exceeds the rate of their elimination, a toxic condition known as oxidative stress takes place.

In the presence of oxidative stress, the rate of skin aging gets accelerated.

Studies have indicated that curcumin plays an active role in halting skin damaging processes mediated by oxidative stress. These primarily include free radical mediated alteration of membranes of cells through reactions with their lipid components and harm to genetic components such as DNA and proteins.

Coupled with its anti-inflammatory effects, curcumin’s radical scavenging capacity makes it useful for therapy of many skin problems.

What does this mean?
Curcumin could is potentially used as first aid to eradicate harmful free radicals which are released at the site of damage. It reduces oxidative stress by improving antioxidant enzyme activity.

10. It is a natural anti-microbial agent

Microbes and foreign pathogens are responsible for a multitude of skin diseases as they cause infections which lead to irritations and rashes. They may also cause severe acne in certain situations.

Afrose R et al. spent a year (2010-2011) studying the microbe killing potentials of turmeric extracts, curcumin. This was analyzed through a study directed towards understanding its effects against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli in particular.

It was seen that incorporation of curcumin into the culture media of the bacteria significantly inhibited their growth.

Therefore, by introducing curcumin as a mode of skin disease treatment, we would eliminate harmful microbes that cause infection and irritation in case of skin disorders.

What does this mean?
The antibacterial abilities of curcumin are helpful in skin disorders as they kill the microbes which are responsible for the infection.

11. It benefits in psoriasis

Psoriasis is an immune system related problem which is characterized by stress and scale formations on the skin. Common symptoms are the appearance of rough and dry patches. It is caused by activation of toxic pathways by the T cells of the immune system.

Recent studies of curcumin in an animal model of psoriasis have yielded positive results. The compound was administered along with another drug, cyclosporine and their combined safety and efficacy for use were tested.

Their oral administration showed a significant blockage of key psoriasis inducing T cell pathways.

Inflammatory factors such as TNF-α, (Interleukin) IL-12, IL-22 levels also showed a marked reduction as could be demonstrated through lowered swelling and redness in the affected areas.

What does this mean?
Curcumin helps in psoriasis healing through various anti-inflammatory activities. It also accelerates the therapeutic process by down regulating the required T cell pathways.

12. It serves as natural therapy in dermatitis

Dermatitis or eczema are medical terms used to describe a skin condition of inflammation of the skin. It occurs in the form of redness, irritation, and swelling and may sometimes be indicative of an underlying problem.

Several scientific studies highlight the potential of curcumin for treatment of dermatitis. Nguyen TA and Friedman AJ highlighted the prophylactic, i.e. disease is preventing the ability of the compound through their 2013 study where they observed how curcumin could protect skin cells from invasion by foreign environmental toxins.

This was followed up by another study wherein turmeric extracts; curcumin was compared with Indian pennywort and walnut concerning anti-eczema effects. Through bio statistical validation, the ability of curcumin to cure disease signs like redness, itchiness, and swelling were observed and were seen to be markedly reduced.

What does this mean?
By monitoring levels of disease markers, curcumin can decrease inflammation and repair damage caused due to dermatitis.

13. It aids in melasma treatment

Melasma is a skin condition wherein gray and brown patches are formed on the face. It arises due to skin pigmentation issues caused by the compound melanin and is a result of sun damage.

Tu CX along with colleagues studied that curcumin administration could hinder the functioning of melanogenic (pigmentation defect regulating) pathways and therefore protect the skin from sun damage.

The key targeted pathways included cellular tyrosinase, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and p38 MAPK in human melanocytes. Many melanogenic genes were also downregulated by curcumin.

This was followed up by a Journal of Ethnopharmacology experiment where a formulation composed of curcumin, chickpeas, and sandalwood- Ubtan was tested for its skin healing effects and yielded beneficial outcomes.

What does this mean?
The results of these studies indicate that curcumin is a useful agent for curing melasma. It provides the nutrients required for regulating the primary melanogenic pathways thereby aiding the healing process.

Dosage of Curcumin For Skin Disorders

A specific dosage of curcumin has not been prescribed for skin diseases.

However many studies utilize a dose of 300mg twice a day for such conditions. One study showed that a dose of 500mg Meriva twice a day had therapeutic effects in skin diseases or 200mg Theracurmin was found to control disease activity.

Most research studies utilize a dose of 500-1000mg of curcumin per day. It is best to consult a doctor for the appropriate dosage and formulation of curcumin.

The most commonly used curcumin supplements are standardized 95% curcumin extract with Bioperine. Curcumin requires piperine or fats for absorption. (Read How to improve Bioavailability of curcumin?)

However, you can go through other curcumin supplement formulations here that aid in increasing bioavailability of curcumin. (Read 8 Popular Curcumin supplement types)

Always start with a low dosage and increase gradually over weeks. Curcumin supplements are best taken after meals and avoid taking them at the same time as any other medication. Maintain a 3-4 hour gap.

Precautions

Safety of turmeric in the diet is renowned. Curcumin has also been established to be safe even in high doses in most of the studies.

A few precautions are necessary to take while using curcumin. (Read Side-effects & Precautions of Curcumin)

Curcumin may cause allergies in sensitive individuals. Please conduct a patch test before applying curcumin topically.

Curcumin may cause acid reflux in sensitive individuals. Therefore, it should be consumed after a meal.

Large dose of curcumin can cause gastric discomfort like diarrhea, bloating, nausea etc. Therefore, it is advisable to start curcumin with low doses, and its intake should be avoided in case any severe gastric side-effects are observed.

Curcumin interferes in drug metabolism. Therefore, 3-4 hours gap must be maintained between taking curcumin and any medication. An expert’s opinion is best to take in this matter.

Curcumin may increase the risk of bleeding owing to its blood thinning activity. Therefore, people with bleeding disorders or on blood thinning medication should refrain from curcumin. (Read Is turmeric a blood thinner?)

Curcumin intake should be discontinued at least two weeks ahead of a surgery and after that as well.

Gallstone Patients should take curcumin supplements if advised by health practitioner.(Read Is turmeric safe in gallstones?)

Curcumin supplements must be devoid of contamination. Curcumin supplements can have contaminants such as heavy metals, harmful chemicals, fillers or additives. These contaminants may be a potent disease (such as cancer, ulcers, etc.) causing agents.

Curcumin supplements are excellent when combined with bioavailability boosters. Curcumin is poorly available to the body. Therefore, it is best to integrate curcumin with the agents like Bioperine which increase its absorption in the body.

A medical expert must be consulted before using curcumin supplements.

Conclusion

Through the above studies we can see that curcumin offers a variety of benefits for skin diseases of varying origins. As such, scientists are now trying to use the compound to develop formulations and cosmetics to aid skin problems.

Along with regulating enzymes responsible for aging and oxidative stress conditions, it also displays uniquely potent anti-inflammatory effects.

Therefore, it is advisable for people looking to maintain the health of their skin to give curcumin a try. The results will surely not disappoint.

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