Used around the world as a culinary spice, turmeric is one of the world’s most well-known medicinal herbs. Turmeric is the yellow-orange addition to curries, soups and even dyes.
Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, has been shown to harbor powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s even believed to be as good as pharmaceutical drugs such as hydrocortisone.
For this reason, turmeric is often used for treating chronic inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and even the progression of arthritis.
When taken as a health supplement, curcumin can help to reduce acute and chronic inflammation in the body (1). This can also reduce pain.
It must be noted that curcumin’s bioavailability is greatly enhanced with the addition of black pepper (piperine) and a healthy fat, such as coconut oil. This allows for faster uptake in the body’s cells.
A recent study from Brazil has shown that curcumin content of turmeric can inhibit the against 23 strains of fungi, including Candida albicans (2).
The researchers also tested Curcumin using human cells, and found Curcumin was able to stop Candida from adhering to the lining of the gut. In fact, Curcumin appears to be even more potent than pharmaceutical antifungal drugs such as fluconazole.
There’s also evidence to suggest that using ascorbic acid alongside curcumin can increase curcumin’s antifungal effects. One study even showed that curcumin could be five to ten times more effective against Candida albicans when it was used with ascorbic acid! This suggests that adding curcumin to certain vitamin C supplements may help in the fight against Candida.
The polyphenols in turmeric may be beneficial in reducing the risk of fatty liver disease caused by stress and improving liver health.
Studies in cows have found that stressful conditions can lead to physiological changes in the liver, which affects the endoplasmic reticulum. This contributes to the development of fatty liver.
However, when the cows in the study were fed a blend of turmeric and green tea, the researchers noted a significant risk in irritation markers for fatty liver (3).
As a potent antioxidant, turmeric also supports the health of various body systems by fighting harmful free radicals that can damage cells, particularly in the liver. It’s even been shown to reduce the risk of cancer-causing cells forming in the body.
A study on rats found that supplementation with turmeric helped to significantly increase the rats’ production of glutathione, while also reducing oxidative stress.
These results were even greater than in the rats who were treated with placebo, suggesting that turmeric is a valuable stimulant for glutathione production in the body.
Curcumin has proven to be a powerful antimicrobial, which means it can help to defend the body against invading pathogens.
Researchers have shown that curcumin is able to invade the cell of a bacterial species and kill it from the inside. When tested in food samples, turmeric was found to inhibit the growth of food-borne pathogens including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
This suggests that turmeric can be used as all-round protection from harmful bacteria, yeast and fungal overgrowth.