If you are looking for a natural cure for just about any problem, then you probably have come across turmeric at some point in time… But does this stuff actually work or is it all just one big scam?
I know this question may seem a bit bold, but it is something that should be asked. After all, we have seen many "superfood" health products ride their newfound wave of popularity and then slowly fade into the distance, being the fads that they actually were.
But is this just another fad or is it the real deal? Is this really a miracle treatment that so many are ranting and raving about?
Well… Before I get into all of that let's first talk about what exactly turmeric is…
What Is Turmeric?
There is a good chance you have eaten it before even if you just heard about it recently. Turmeric is a commonly used to spice in popular dishes such as curries and mustards, and has been for centuries.
This rich yellowish-orange colored powder comes from the roots of a plant from the same family as ginger.
And it hasn't just been used in cooking for centuries… Traditional Chinese medicine has also made use of turmeric for, what some say is, thousands of years. So this isn't an entirely new health craze… It's just that its newfound popularity in the Western world in particular has grown astronomically.
Fad or Does It Work?
The health benefits of turmeric are all about curcumin, which is a component of turmeric that makes up around 5% of its weight.
This substance is supposedly what is responsible for, or at least mostly responsible for, all of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory disease fighting powers that turmeric is commonly promoted as being able to provide.
However... There is a problem with all of these said benefits that are getting so much attention in the media. The problem is that, and according to this article in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, there really isn't as much proof of curcumin being an effective medicinal chemical in clinical trials as you might have been led to believe there is.
In fact, as I'm writing this, based on the information I have found, there aren't any double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials that exist showing its successfulness to prevent a number of supposedly "curable" diseases. In other words... There's still a heck of a lot of more research that needs to be done to prove its effectiveness.
One major problem that curcumin has is its low systemic bioavailability… Which basically means that when you take turmeric curcumin supplements a low amount of the curcumin actually enters circulation and is able to be useful to you.
This problem is why you commonly see turmeric supplements also containing piperine, black pepper extract, Bioperine, etc.… (which are all the same thing) because they help increase the absorption.
This problem is also the reason why many scientists are doubtful as far as the potential of turmeric and its power substance curcumin to be as amazing of a health supplement as it is said to be.
Definitely Over-hyped, But Not a Complete Bust
The hype surrounding this "superfood" is a good example of something hitting the mainstream media and riding the newfound wave of popularity… With just about every said benefit being blown out of proportion.
That said, it isn't a complete bust and is not something I would call a fad, although we will surely see the popularity die down a bit in the future. The fact of the matter is many researchers firmly stand behind their findings of it being a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and being beneficial for a number of things such as…
- Helping balance cholesterol levels
- Brain health
- Join pain
- Skin health
While many of the studies out there are conflicted in interest, being performed by researchers that are involved in the manufacturing and selling of turmeric supplements, there are still a decent number of studies out there proving that you can get at least some benefits out of supplementation.
Much of its benefits come from its anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to inhibit molecules involved in inflammation, such as for example phospholipase, lipooxygenase, cyclooxygenase 2, leukotrienes, and thromboxane.
How Much Should You Be Taking?
So it may be a little over-hyped, but there are some promising benefits, although there is definitely still a need for further research in just about every way.
But if you are looking to give turmeric a try, how much should you be taking? Because, after all, the absorbance of its powerhouse ingredient curcumin isn't all that great, as I've mentioned.
Well… There are mixed opinions on this. I found information stating that taking over the recommended doses can easily lead to problems like low blood sugar, acid reflex, iron deficiency, stomach pain, etc. But I have also read information where apparently people have consumed well above the normal recommended doses that you often see on supplement bottles for extended periods of time and saw no adverse effects.
That said, I would probably just stick to what the supplement label says you should take… And of course don't buy any supplements that are "sketchy". Buy products whose labels can be trusted.
In conclusion: Turmeric is definitely not a scam but there is no doubt it is over-hyped and many of the so-called "benefits" have not been thoroughly proven as of yet, or have even been somewhat disproved.