Turmeric is an ancient Indian spice made from the roots of the Curcuma longa plant
Its main active ingredient, called curcumin, is known for its antioxidant properties
Long-term research is ongoing to continue to explore turmeric for its health promoting properties
If you’re a fan of Indian, Asian, or Middle Eastern cuisine, you might already be familiar with turmeric or curcumin. As a major ingredient in curry powder, turmeric is made from the roots of the Curcuma longa plant. In recent years, this ancient Indian spice has garnered a lot of fans both in and out of the kitchen, thanks to its antioxidant benefits. In fact, turmeric has been touted as a superfood and even become a popular herbal supplement.
But what is turmeric? Are turmeric and curcumin the same thing? And what are the benefits of taking turmeric?
Native to Southeast Asia, turmeric (a plant in the ginger family) has been used both as a culinary spice and as a treatment within the Indian system of holistic medicine such as Ayurveda, and turmeric uses in traditional Indian medicine are wide ranging. Turmeric contains several phytochemicals called curcuminoids. These components, including curcumin, give the spice its vibrant yellow color. 1
What Are The Benefits Of Taking Turmeric?
Turmeric benefits really lie in its main active ingredient called curcumin. But what is curcumin used for? Because curcumin helps neutralize free radicals in the body, the curcumin health benefits include providing the body with antioxidant properties. 2, 3
Among the advantages of turmeric, you might have heard that curcumin may have some digestive health benefits. But does turmeric help bowel movements? Turmeric has a long history of traditional use in digestive health and researchers are trying to validate the traditional use effects through clinical studies, therefore in the future we will hopefully learn more about this potential benefit from consuming turmeric. Until further research confirms curcumin for gastrointestinal health, think of turmeric as an option that complements, but certainly doesn’t replace, your doctor’s recommendations.
Should you take turmeric supplements? Turmeric supplement benefits include antioxidant properties. If you’re looking to support your health in this way, then you might consider taking a supplement.
How much turmeric should you take a day? Although there is not a widely accepted, specific dosage yet, generally, some doctors recommend taking 500 mg of turmeric twice a day. Our Nature Made Turmeric supplement contains 500 mg of turmeric per capsule—equal to about 1/6 teaspoon turmeric spice powder,4 while our Turmeric gummies provides 250 mg of turmeric per serving of two gummies.
How long does turmeric curcumin stay in your system? Due to its fast metabolism and poor solubility, a considerable amount of curcumin is excreted in feces. 2
Who Shouldn’t Take Turmeric?
While the antioxidant health benefits of turmeric show continuing promise in many areas, certain people should not take this supplement.
If you have a history of gallstones or bile duct obstruction, you should not take turmeric supplements.
If you’re taking blood-thinning medications (i.e., warfarin, clopidogrel and aspirin) and/or antiplatelet drugs or have blood clotting issues, consult your physician before use.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should always consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
The Bottom Line
What is turmeric good for? Many people turn to this ancient Indian spice for its antioxidant properties. Turmeric benefits stem from curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric. People often turn to turmeric supplements to derive the health benefits of taking turmeric. Certain people shouldn’t take curcumin, including those with a history of gallstones or bile duct obstruction and people who are taking blood-thinning medications and/or antiplatelet drugs or have blood clotting issues. Long-term research is ongoing to continue to explore turmeric for its health promoting properties.
Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.
Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.
Senior Manager, Medical and Scientific Communications
Melissa is a Registered Dietitian and provides leadership to Pharmavite’s Medical and Scientific Education team. She has over 20 years of experience educating consumers, healthcare professionals, retailers and employees about nutrition, dietary supplements, and overall wellness. Prior to joining the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Melissa launched and managed Pharmavite’s Consumer Affairs department and worked as a clinical dietitian throughout Southern California. Melissa received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, and completed her dietetic internship at Veteran’s Hospital in East Orange New Jersey.