Turmeric hit a mainstream milestone back in 2017 when Starbucks introduced the Turmeric Latte to its London customers. The drink consisted of a double shot of espresso, whole or oat milk, a drop of vanilla essence, just a pinch of pepper and a half to one teaspoon of turmeric. Still on their menu today, even here in the U.S., but relabeled as the Golden Turmeric Latte, the drink has been modified slightly with the added ingredients of ginger and cinnamon.

And in 2023, turmeric continues its cultural march forward, gaining favor with other companies too. For example, Martha Stewart features at least three, maybe more, turmeric drink recipes on her website: a warm turmeric and milk concoction, ideal, the site says, for soothing a scratchy throat; a turmeric and lemon tea drink and a turmeric tonic recipe.

And there’s no shortage of turmeric on Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop.com, including a turmeric-spiced bone broth and scallions and other recipes and turmeric beauty treatments such as a glow moisturizer, invigorating body scrub and cleansing balm and more.

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Check the spice aisle of any natural health food or grocery store and you’ll find turmeric. Same with turmeric supplements which are accessible in all the places you’d get your other nutritional supplements.

So, what is turmeric and what makes it so popular? And, by the way, how do you pronounce it?

Turmeric is a spice, golden yellow-orange in color, that is found in the finger-like roots (aka rhizomes) of a native plant from Southeast Asia. It is the main ingredient in curry powders, very popular in Indian cooking. In fact, India produces nearly all of the world’s turmeric crop, although consumer interest is worldwide.

The largest North American farm grows and distributes about 150 tons per year. Like its cousin ginger, turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and those benefits are conferred from the active ingredient in turmeric known as curcumin.

Turmeric is no newcomer to its health and wellness benefits, having been used medicinally for around 4,000 years. Still today, it’s used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine practices.



6 Potential Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is often promoted as a super food, but for many of the touted benefits, the research is inconclusive or in the early stages. Having said that, turmeric, and more specifically its active ingredient curcumin, seems safe for most people, whether in food or supplements, as long as you’re not overdoing it. (More on that later.)

Most, if not all, of the potential benefits to follow are tied in to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric through curcumin.


  1. Immune Support

A healthy immune system is vital for good health. Strong bodily immunity protects your body from germs, infections and disease. As this piece points out, when you have a healthy immune system, it’s not something you think about on a daily basis. But even developing the common cold will make you run to your medicine cabinet or kitchen pantry for a way to build back your immunity.

The authors of this systematic review of the scientific literature on supplemental curcumin and inflammation-related biomarker profiles in COVID-19 patients suggested that curcumin confers beneficial effects through partial restoration of pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory balance. This led the review authors to conclude that “curcumin supplementation may offer an efficacious and safe option for improving COVID-19 disease outcomes.” However, the authors also added that future clinical studies should research this further with larger cohorts in different clinical settings using standardized preparations of curcumin compounds.


  1. Reducing Inflammation

While your body needs some inflammation to help with its healing process, when inflammatory molecules run amok without interference that can lead to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to all kinds of health problems, from sinus infections to heart disease and so much in between. Simply put, curcumin helps mediate the chronic inflammation drivers that play an important role in inflammation.

Without the proper amount of bodily inflammation, chronic inflammation can damage cells, tissues and organs. In turn, this may lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer, to name a few. Read more here and here.


  1. Joint Health

The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin are what make turmeric a potential ally in reducing joint pain, stiffness and swelling from your weekly tennis game, or even from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. According to this article, one study compared the results in reducing osteoarthritis pain between taking a turmeric extract three times daily to a 1,200 milligram dose of ibuprofen, finding the beneficial effects were comparable.

This pilot clinical study found potential benefit for patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the areas of disease activity and reduction of joint swelling and tenderness. In both areas, results in the curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvement. The study authors further advised that the curcumin treatment was safe.


  1. Heart Health

Inflammation is a hallmark of heart disease. As an inflammation fighter, can turmeric help with heart health? Some studies suggest the answer is yes.

For example, this article advises that early research suggests turmeric may help prevent plaque build-up, one of the blocked-artery culprits that often ends in heart attacks or strokes. Other experts advise that turmeric may lower the risk of heart disease by helping you regulate blood pressure, blood clots, and “other factors vital to heart health.”

And this piece says that increasing blood flow and improving blood circulation is “one of turmeric’s many health benefits,” reminding us that this was one of the uses for turmeric since ancient times. By increasing nitric oxide production, reducing oxidative stress, and decreasing inflammation, turmeric’s active compound curcumin offers additional heart health benefits.

But don’t kick out your heart healthy diet and other smart lifestyle habits (hello, exercise!) that will help your heart, and certainly don’t eliminate your heart medications. Turmeric may play a role in heart health, but consider adding turmeric as just one of the many things you should be doing to keep your ticker ticking.


  1. Skin Health

Although the scientific research for turmeric in skin health is relatively new, turmeric’s believed healing powers and interest in its cosmetic benefits are not. There may be several potential skin benefits to be had from the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, thanks once again, to the active curcumin compound. For example, turmeric may enhance your skin’s natural glow, help wounds heal more quickly, stave off or manage some symptoms of psoriasis, and even help reduce and clear up acne. Read more here and talk to your dermatologist. Also, don’t expect miracles and don’t subscribe to the theory that more is better.


  1. Digestive Health

One area of digestive health where the research community is intrigued by turmeric is the role it might play as a digestive aid. More specifically, the theory is that turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help in digestion specifically by reducing gut inflammation and improving gut permeability. Everyone’s guts are semi-permeable, says this piece from the Cleveland Clinic. We want our intestinal lining to be able to absorb water and nutrients during digestion into our bloodstream. But when we have too much intestinal permeability, that undesirable condition is unofficially referred to as “leaky gut.”

According to Better Nutrition, turmeric is “a medicine chest in a jar for leaky gut” because in addition to its other qualities, turmeric has antimicrobial powers and also serves as an astringent, which helps improve leaky gut issues by tightening the spaces between the proteins in the bowel lining, thus improving the gut permeability barrier.

However, too much turmeric can irritate your digestive system. In other words, too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

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How to Take Turmeric?

Some research also suggests other potential benefits for turmeric/curcumin which, according to this post and this one, might help with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, liver issues, reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, memory, depression, diabetes, and even certain cancers. Stay tuned as studies continue in these areas.

While turmeric recipes might be delicious, adding this spice to your everyday dietary selections is not likely to get you enough turmeric to provide its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits unless you’re eating curry as a main staple as is done in countries such as India. But turmeric is a healthy spice, so by all means enjoy it.

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For a more concentrated dose and a better way to manage how much turmeric/curcumin you’re getting, consider dietary supplements.

Here’s something to know. Curcumin may be poorly absorbed by your body into your bloodstream. In order to improve curcumin’s bioavailability, look for a turmeric/curcumin supplement with the natural substance known as piperine. (And getting your turmeric through food, add some black pepper which contains piperine and should also help with absorbing the curcumin.)

And another tip, this one from the Arthritis Foundation. The Foundation says choose brands that use a curcumin extract and also check the standardized amount on the label of phospholipids, antioxidants or nanoparticles for better absorption.


Who Should Not Take Turmeric? 

  1. If you are already taking blood-thinning drugs, large doses of turmeric may not be appropriate as turmeric can also thin your blood.
  2. High doses of turmeric may also cause stomach irritation. If you have digestive issues, while turmeric might help, if you start having stomach discomfort, lower your dose or stop turmeric completely. Also, turmeric and gallbladder disease are not a good combination.
  3. Pregnant women might want to avoid turmeric supplements (or spicy food for that matter—until you’re ready to get those contractions started). It’s the blood-thinning properties of turmeric that might make it a poor supplement choice for this period of your life.
  4. If you’re going to have surgery, ask your doctor when you should stop taking your turmeric supplements.

Talk with your doctor about whether turmeric supplements make sense for you and, if so, at what dose. For example, the Arthritis Foundation suggests taking 500 mg capsules twice daily—but that’s to relieve the symptoms of arthritis and may not be the right for you.

Bottom line:  By all means, add turmeric to your wellness routine through foods and/or supplements for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Think of it as one more tool in your body’s wellness toolkit.


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This test is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent or mitigate any disease. This site does not offer medical advice, and nothing contained herein is intended to establish a doctor/patient relationship. OmegaQuant, LLC is regulated under the Clinical Laboratory improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) and is qualified to perform high complexity clinical testing. The performance characteristics of this test were determined by OmegaQuant, LLC. It has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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