In the last few years there is one spice that has garnered a lot of interest for its health benefits, and it really does seem to be the spice that keeps on giving. It’s name, turmeric. It is in fact a compound called Curcumin (the main curcuminoid found in turmeric) that is the most active part of turmeric that is responsible for many of the health and medicinal effects of this ancient spice. In fact as the list grows in the amount of benefits turmeric can offer when it comes to health and preventative health, you almost have to ask the question, what doesn’t it do!!

Turmeric is actually in the same family as ginger, which we also know to have its own merits when it comes to health, and both spices have a long history of medicinal use in Asian countries.

So what exactly has Science shown that turmeric can do for our health? Well let’s start by promoting its excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Anything that reduces chronic inflammation in the body is a very good thing, as it is chronic inflammation that is often referred to as being the root of most diseases and often we don’t even know we have it. Inflammation is certainly a big underlying factor in diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and as science now states, ‘using a potent anti-inflammatory such as turmeric, has a great potential in both the prevention and treatment of these types of conditions’.

Turmeric has also been shown to be a powerful antioxidant, which is a word we hear a lot, but one that’s not really understood, so here comes the science bit. Antioxidants are powerful substances that can help protect the body from damage, as they help fight the oxidation process, which is a chemical reaction that leads to cell damage and we definitely don’t want cells to be damaged! It is therefore vital that our diet contains an abundance of natural antioxidants to maintain our antioxidant needs and reduce oxidative stress, especially as we age as oxidative stress contributes to many age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

When it comes to healthy brain aging, then turmeric has a lot to offer the brain especially when it comes to the potential helpful prevention and treatment of degenerative neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin has been shown in studies to boost the levels of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), this hormone increases and promotes the growth of new neurones (nerve cells), which is certainly helpful in the fight against degenerative brain diseases. Curcumin has also been shown in varying research to have positive effects on improving memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease, boosting serotonin and dopamine levels which are neurotransmitters vital for ensuring mood stability (low dopamine and serotonin levels lead to low mood and depression) and has also shown future promise for the potential to delay or reverse many brain diseases, especially those related to age related decline.

When it comes to heart health, curcumin has also shown to have some amazing benefits here too. As curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and inflammation is known to be a key factor in the development of heart disease, it has shown to have cardiovascular protective effects and may help guard against the development of heart disease. With science showing it can also reduce the incident of fatty plaque build-up (atherosclerosis) in the blood vessel walls, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes this is yet more evidence at just how potent this spice is for health.  If that wasn’t enough, curcumin has also shown to act as an anti-coagulant so helps to prevent blood clots from forming, so if you are taking curcumin supplements, remember to stop taking them before any surgery.

There is also some fantastic research showing how curcumin has potential use in the fight against cancer too, as it’s been shown to have anti-cancer effects. It is seen that in countries where people consume regular curcumin (100-200mg per day) over a good length of time, cancer rates are far lower. In animal studies curcumin has been shown to not only kill cancer cells, but also prevent them from growing especially in bowel, stomach, skin and breast cancers, although more research is needed in humans to determine the exact scope of using it to help the fight against cancer.

So as you can from the above, there really isn’t much to not like about turmeric and the curcumin it contains and the health benefits it continues to show makes it a spice with an important role in both prevention and treatment of various illnesses. Just to note though, that although you should absolutely be adding good quality turmeric to your cooking where possible and as regularly as you can, it is really impossible to get the amount of curcumin you need through culinary measures alone, so this is one natural ingredient you are better off buying as a supplement for in order to reaps all its benefits.



Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implications, 2015. Archives of Medical Archives

Curcumin & Cancer, 2019. Nutrients

The Multifaceted Role of Curcumin in Cancer Prevention and Treatment. 2015. Molecules

Use of curcumin in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, 2018. Neural Regeneration Research

Anti-inflammatory Action of Curcumin and Its Use in the Treatment of Lifestyle-related Diseases, 2019. European Cardiolog Review

The emerging role of curcumin for improving vascular dysfunction: A review, 2017. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition

Curcumin, the golden spice in treating cardiovascular diseases, 2020. Biotechnology Advances
Curcumin and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Prevention and Treatment, 2019. Nutrients