Turmeric, also known as the golden spice, is a well known anti-inflammatory herb. Turmeric’s active components, curcuminoids, are powerful antioxidants, helping your body end the negative effects of free radicals.
The Short Version
- Turmeric is one of, if not the, best known and heavily researched anti-inflammatory herbs. Evidence suggests it is effective at reducing many forms of inflammation, including: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and workout-related pain.
- Turmeric also works to boost the effectiveness of most anti-depressants and many statins, although the mechanism for this is not fully understood.
- Turmeric does not appear to be useful in treating stomach ulcers, sun-related skin damage, or post-surgical inflammation
Turmeric, a plant related to ginger, is grown in many Asian countries, as well as other tropical areas. It’s a major ingredient in curry powders — common in many Indian and Asian dishes — and is used as a coloring for foods, fabrics and cosmetics. The underground portions of the plant can be dried and made into capsules, tablets, extracts, powders or teas.
The active components of turmeric are compounds called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. The curcumin content of turmeric is not that high, at around 3%, by weight. Most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram of curcumin extract per day. To get that much curcumin from just eating turmeric spices, you would need to consume over two tablespoons of turmeric.
Over recent decades, researchers conducted 32 clinical trials on the effect of curcumin supplements on various autoimmune diseases including osteo/rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes and ulcerative colitis. Those trials formed part of the basis for us here at Fully Human including curcumin in Freedom, so let’s see what the current state of the science is.
All studies were randomized, placebo controlled trials, the gold standard for medical evidence. The trial lengths ranged from 4-40 weeks. And they looked at a variety of clinical measures including pain, stiffness, range of motion, and disease specific markers (inflammatory markers for RA as an example).
Overall, 26 trials resulted in significant improvements with most of the remainder not being long enough to report results. None reported significant side effects, and none reported curcumin supplementation as being anything but supportive as an autoimmune therapy.
The osteoarthritis-related trials ranged from 6 to 40 weeks with doses ranging from 100–2000 mg/day tested. In 13 of the studies, dietary curcumin intake resulted in improvement of at least 2 clinical measures (pain, stiffness, range of motion…etc) and seven studies showed improvement of at least three clinical measures. The average effective daily dose was 829 mg/day divided into two doses.
Type 2 Diabetes Results
The Type 2 diabetes trials ranged from 4 to 36 weeks with doses of curcumin ranging from 200 to 1500 mg/day. All eight studies showed curcumin supplementation possessed anti-diabetic effects with the average effective daily dosage being 570.79 mg/day divided into least two doses.
Ulcerative Colitis Results
The duration of the three studies looking at ulcerative colitis ranged from 4 weeks to 24 weeks with doses ranging from 140 mg to 3000 mg/day. Two of the three studies showed taking between 2,000-3,000mg/day were effective in putting mild-moderate ulcerative colitis into remission.
There have been only three studies of curcumin’s effect on other rheumatic diseases, including two studies on rheumatoid arthritis and one on lupus nephritis. Of the two RA studies, one 8-week study showed an improvement in patients taking 1,000mg/day divided between at least two doses. The other study was only two weeks long, and didn’t end with any reportable outcome. The lupus study found that a dose as low as 66mg/day over 12 weeks resulted in significant improvements in systolic blood pressure and a levels of lupus markers in the blood (proteinuria and hematuria).
Promising results aside, the effect of curcumin on RA and lupus should be considered possibly useful, but with clinically inconclusive evidence.
What Do We Use?
- Is the most heavily researched brand of turmeric, cited in nearly 100 scientific studies.
- Has the longest track record of safety data, dating back to the 1990’s.
- Has the highest potency content of any turmeric on the market, refined to a minimum of 95% purity.