With so much to know about turmeric, we’re sharing a beginner’s guide to get you started.
Turmeric is one of the most buzzed-about spices in the wellness industry and while it may seem like a new health “fad” it’s actually been around for nearly 4000 years! It’s been used as a culinary spice, in religious ceremonies and for health purposes for centuries.
Now, modern day culture has welcomed it as more than 3000 different publications have discovered turmeric’s impressive benefits over the last 25 years. (1)
With so much to know about turmeric, we’re sharing a beginner’s guide to get you started. Plus, we’re breaking down what it does for the body, from supporting a healthy inflammatory response to acting as a powerful free radical scavenger — we have all the details you need to know.
What is Turmeric?
So, what exactly is turmeric, and where does it come from? Turmeric comes from the Curcuma Longa plant, which is part of the ginger family. It’s native to tropical South Asia, and 133 different species of turmeric have been noted worldwide, all of which have different names based on region.
It’s thought to thrive in areas that receive quite a bit of rain each year and is now grown primarily in India — in fact, India produces almost all of the world’s turmeric crop and is also thought to consume 80% of it! (1)
The History of Turmeric
Before looking at all of the impressive benefits turmeric brings to the table, let’s take a further look into the history of this incredibly powerful spice.
Turmeric was initially found in the Vedic culture in India and was used as a culinary spice, but it was also noted as having some religious significance as well. Turmeric was then used in China, followed by East and West Africa, and then Jamaica in the 18th century. (1)
Interestingly enough, Marco Polo was thought to come across turmeric in 1280 and described it as having similarities to saffron. In some cultures, it’s referred to as “Indian Saffron” due to its vibrant color.
Aside from culinary uses, many cultures also turned to turmeric for its health properties and it has a rich history in South Asia. Turmeric has also been a staple in Ayurvedic culture.
You’ll also find that it’s called something a bit different all around the world. Here are just some of the different names turmeric goes by:
- Yellow Root
- Turmeric has a whopping 53 different names in Sanskrit!
- In North India, turmeric is called “haldi”
Fun Turmeric History Fact: Most of the turmeric grown today is in a city in India, called Erode, used to refer to it as “Turmeric City” or “The Yellow City.”
Curcumin & Turmeric: What You Need to Know
When talking about turmeric, it’s important to understand that this spice contains many plant substances, and the curcuminoids are powerful antioxidants that are known to carry some of the most impressive and talked-about benefits.
Curcumin, a specific curcuminoid, is also what gives turmeric it’s vibrant color. Read on to learn more about what exactly curcumin does for the body.
What Curcumin Does For The Body
With some rich history, we know a lot about curcumin today as well as what it can do for the body.
#1 SUPPORTS A HEALTHY INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE
This is one of the most well-known benefits of curcumin. It’s been shown to help support a healthy inflammatory response in the body, and studies suggest that it may even help support the management of exercise-induced muscle soreness. (2)
#2 REDUCES FREE RADICALS
Curcumin is also a potent antioxidant, making it a powerful free radical scavenger. This is important since free radicals are unstable compounds found in the body that can cause a DNA imbalance. (3)
To better understand this, let’s discuss why free radicals are something we want to limit.
The molecules in our body contain electrons, and they like to be in pairs to remain stable. But, when a molecule loses an electron, it turns into a free radical that then searches around to steal another electron to create a pair. The problem here is that it takes an electron from another stable molecule, creating another free radical in the process (this is called oxidation).
The good news is that consuming antioxidant-rich foods like curcumin can help give an electron to these unstable free radicals, which helps stop the free radical cycle in our body.
#3 PROMOTES HEALTHY JOINTS
Some studies suggest that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, may help promote healthy joints. This is all thanks to its ability to help support a healthy response to inflammatory reactions in the body. (4) Curcumin is thought to help block certain inflammatory cytokines as well as enzymes, and one study found that curcumin helped to reduce pain associated with strenuous exercise. (5)
#4 ENCOURAGES HEALTHY DIGESTION
The gut is the foundation for overall wellness, so it’s important to find ways to promote a healthy digestive system. Research suggests that curcumin may play a role in helping encourage healthy digestion and support gut microbiota. (6,7)
Making The Most of Your Turmeric Supplement
With so many benefits, many turn to turmeric supplementation to help support a healthy inflammatory response and to give the body a much-needed boost. But, not all turmeric supplements are created equal.
There are a few things to look out for:
You want to make sure that your turmeric supplement actually contains curcumin, as this is the active compound that’s known to have the majority of the health-boosting benefits.
BLACK PEPPER EXTRACT
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that curcumin isn’t very bioavailable, meaning that it’s not easily absorbed by the body.
However, piperine (black pepper extract) has been shown to help increase the bioavailability, and when added to a supplement with curcumin, it has been shown to increase the bioavailability by up to 2,000%. (8)
Not only is our Daily Turmeric supplement enriched with bioperine for maximum absorption, it also includes the active compound curcumin, ensuring optimal benefits.
See What Curcumin Can Do For You
Turmeric has been around and used for centuries and continues to be used today. Ready to see how it can fit into your wellness routine? Find out what curcumin can do for your health through supporting a healthy inflammatory response, promoting healthy joints, reducing free radicals, and encouraging a healthy digestion.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
- Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017;6(10):92. Published 2017 Oct 22. doi:10.3390/foods6100092
- Shep, D., Khanwelkar, C., Gade, P. et al. Safety and efficacy of curcumin versus diclofenac in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized open-label parallel-arm study. Trials 20, 214 (2019).
- Fernández-Lázaro, Diego et al. “Modulation of Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage, Inflammation, and Oxidative Markers by Curcumin Supplementation in a Physically Active Population: A Systematic Review.” Nutrients vol. 12,2 501. 15 Feb. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12020501
- Dulbecco P, Savarino V. Therapeutic potential of curcumin in digestive diseases. World J Gastroenterol. 2013;19(48):9256-9270. doi:10.3748/wjg.v19.i48.9256
- Ng QX, Soh AYS, Loke W, Venkatanarayanan N, Lim DY, Yeo WS. A Meta-Analysis of the Clinical Use of Curcumin for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). J Clin Med. 2018;7(10):298. Published 2018 Sep 22. doi:10.3390/jcm7100298