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Turmeric, an old plant to stay young

Turmeric, a golden plant for our health

Turmeric is an orange root that has been used in curries and as a medicinal plant in India for thousands of years. Its components with active properties are mainly curcuminoids, of which curcumin is one. According to several studies, turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,1,2 which can make it a remarkable ally in helping to prevent chronic diseases and limit ageing.3,4 An overview of the benefits that can be derived from this plant.  

However, as curcumin is only weakly concentrated in the plant (~3% of its weight5 ), it is preferable to use a standardised extract in a dietary supplement. In addition, since curcumin is poorly absorbed, it is advisable to combine it with piperine, a pepper component that enhances its absorption.6-8 Finally, since curcumin is fat-soluble, it is interesting to take it with a fat or in micelle form to improve its bioavailability.9-11

The action of turmeric against inflammation and chronic diseases

Curcumin is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Indeed, it could act on many cellular mechanisms, limiting the activation of inflammatory genes and enzymes (NFκB, COX2…) and the secretion of inflammatory molecules (cytokines).7,12,13 

Although inflammation is essential for our immune system to protect our body, it is harmful when it becomes chronic and can be implicated in many Western diseases (cancers, neurodegeneration, heart disease …).14-17

Thus, turmeric can be considered as an additional support to medical treatments for many ailments18 :

Curcumin may have a preventive effect on different types of cancers, as inflammation and tumour promotion are often linked.13,19-22 Some research even holds out hope that one day it may be used to accompany (but not replace) cancer treatment, as it may limit cell proliferation and angiogenesis, regulate many genes and even kill some cancer cells.23 -28 Other human clinical trials have highlighted its benefits in limiting post-surgical inflammation, the joint symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, eye problems, or gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers, pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.7,29 -32 Similarly, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have been demonstrated in metabolic syndrome,33,34 prediabetes and type 2 diabetes,35-37 and inflammation of adipose tissue.38

The antioxidant power of turmeric

In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can help reduce oxidative stress, which is also implicated in many chronic diseases because free radicals can interact to damage our DNA, proteins and lipids. Curcumin can directly neutralise free radicals due to its particular chemical structure and can participate in the activation of antioxidant enzymes in our body. Thus, it is an antioxidant with two actions, which makes it particularly effective.39-44 

The benefits of turmeric for our brain

Turmeric can be useful for our brain, because in addition to limiting inflammation and oxidative stress, its consumption raises levels of the hormone BDNF. This hormone is involved in neuron growth, cognition and memory. Decreased levels of the hormone BDNF seem to be linked to neurological problems, such as stress and depression or Alzheimer’s disease. These problems could be improved by taking additional curcumin (in combination with medical treatments). Some research points to the neuroprotective properties of curcumin, which can cross the brain barrier.45-50 For Alzheimer’s disease, for example, curcumin intake could increase the cleaning by immune cells of the β-amyloid plaques that are characteristic of the disease, and reduce inflammation due to these plaques, as well as oxidative stress.51-53 As for depression, curcumin intake could improve behaviour and increase the secretion of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin.54-57

The cardiovascular system is not left out

Curcumin also seems to be beneficial for our cardiovascular system. Indeed, it seems to limit thrombosis, diabetes-related cardiovascular complications, cholesterol, arteriosclerosis and even heart attacks and arrhythmias.58-61 Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are very useful, as inflammation and oxidative stress are often linked to these diseases. However, its main asset is to improve the endothelial functions of blood vessels, which control blood pressure, coagulation, vascular permeability…62 and which are often dysfunctional in cardiovascular problems. Thus, according to some studies, curcumin is effective in improving the endothelial functions of our vessels.63,64

Turmeric, an ally of the joints

Turmeric also has positive effects on the joints. For patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which inflammation plays an important role, curcumin has been shown to be useful and to improve several symptoms.65 Similarly, in osteoarthritis, turmeric has been shown to reduce the intensity of pain (VAS, LPFI scales) and symptoms (improvement in physical function according to the WOMAC score),66-68 particularly when taken with fatty acids.11,69 This effect correlates with a strong decrease in markers of oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation.70

A modulator of the immune system

Turmeric may have some antimicrobial properties against certain bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. More studies are needed to find out against which species, but it is a plant that looks promising.71

Finally, it has a modulating action on the immune system: i.e. it stimulates it, if necessary, to better protect the body from external threats and abnormal cells (activation of monocytes, improvement of immune “surveillance”…). But it can also limit its overactivation, notably by blocking different inflammatory pathways or by interfering with the activation of certain immune cells, because an overactive and unbalanced immune system can lead to allergies and autoimmune diseases.72-76

And also for healthy people!

Of course, turmeric is beneficial to healthy people! As mentioned, its effects are useful in the prevention of many diseases and organs benefit greatly from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.77 Its protective effects on the liver are particularly important35,76,78,79 and a positive effect on our epigenetics has even been observed.80

In everyday life, it can also limit anxiety moments, reduce muscle inflammation after exercise and thus improve performance and recovery, and play a photo-protective role for the skin.8,81-83


Disclaimer of liability:

The information published on does not claim to be complete and is not a substitute for individual medical advice or treatment. It cannot be used as an independent diagnosis or to select, apply, modify or discontinue treatment of a disease. In case of health problems, it is recommended to consult a doctor. Any access to and its contents is at the user’s own risk.

Indications :

Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied diet. The recommended daily allowance should not be exceeded. In general, food supplements are not suitable for pregnant and nursing women, children and adolescents. Keep out of reach of children.


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