Turmeric is a popular ingredient in Indian curries, providing a distinctive yellow colour, bitter flavour and mildly aromatic scent. Grown throughout India and in Vietnam, turmeric comes from the root stalk of curcuma longa, part of the ginger family.

For thousands of years turmeric has been used as a dye and within Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory and digestive aid. Turmeric is also topically applied to the skin as a healing treatment for skin wounds, to fight bacteria and reduce scarring.

The Reported Health Benefits Of Turmeric

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a potent antioxidant, believed to increase antioxidant capacity in the body. As an anti-inflammatory, studies indicate the curcumin may work by blocking the NF-kB molecule responsible for regulating the immune response to infection, reducing inflammation.

While the therapeutic properties of turmeric are widely celebrated in Eastern medicine, numerous medical studies are now revealing the potential health benefits of curcumin for modern medicine.

Curcumin Kills Some Types Of Cancer Cells

Curcumin has been scientifically proven to kill and reduce the spread of some types of cancer cells in laboratory tests. Curcumin is believed to be most effective against breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells. Studies have concluded that a combined treatment of chemotherapy and curcumin may be more effective at fighting cancer than chemotherapy alone. While further clinical trials are ongoing, research is yielding promising results.

Potential Protection Against Inflammatory Conditions

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may be beneficial in delaying the onset of liver cirrhosis, according to Austrian and US research. Curcumin could also be beneficial in treating painful inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendonitis and is also used by sufferers of IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Protection Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Although much of the research into turmeric as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease focuses on curcumin’s role in preventing the formation of amyloid-beta plaques, another chemical found in turmeric that poses exciting possibilities is turmerone.

In animal studies, turmerone was found to stimulate stem cells to create new brain cells. Although it is not yet known whether brain cell growth could benefit dementia patients, turmerone may be able to help in the future treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Benefits Of Turmeric For Skin

Turmeric can be used in face masks as a skin brightening treatment and to reduce the appearance of acne scarring. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities of turmeric may also help to relieve psoriasis when taken as a supplement.

How To Take Turmeric

Turmeric can be added to food, or taken as a tea, however turmeric has a bitter flavour and cannot be consumed easily in large enough quantities for adequate absorption of curcumin from the gut into the blood stream. For the greatest potential health benefits turmeric should be taken as a supplement containing black pepper which has been found to significantly enhance curcumin absorption.

How To Choose Turmeric Supplements

Look for turmeric extract containing 95 percent curcuminoids and piperine, the active ingredient of black pepper extract.

Turmeric Dosage

As with all supplements, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Hellenia Turmeric Extract

Turmeric extract from Hellenia is available as 750mg capsules and as a vegan friendly powder with black pepper for consumption in food and drinks. To support a varied and balanced diet and as a potential complementary therapy take two capsules per day with meals, or as directed by a health care professional.