The rhizome (root) of turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn.) has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat gastrointestinal upset, arthritic pain, and "low energy." Laboratory and animal research has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties of turmeric and its constituent curcumin. Preliminary human evidence, albeit poor quality, suggests possible efficacy in the management of dyspepsia (heartburn), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and scabies (when used on the skin).
Amomoum curcuma, anlatone (constituent), ar-tumerone, CUR, Curcuma, Curcuma aromatica, Curcuma aromatica salisbury, Curcuma domestica, Curcuma domestica valet, Curcuma longa, Curcuma longa Linn, Curcuma longa rhizoma, curcuma oil, curcumin, diferuloylmethane, E zhu, Gelbwurzel, gurkemeje, haldi, Haridra, Indian saffron, Indian yellow root, jiang huang, kunir, kunyit, Kurkumawurzelstock, kyoo, NT, number ten, Olena, radix zedoaria longa, rhizome de curcuma, safran des Indes, sesquiterpenoids, shati, tumeric, turmeric oil, turmeric root, tumerone (constituent), Ukon, yellowroot, zedoary, Zingiberaceae (family), zingiberene, Zitterwurzel.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Blood clot prevention
Early research suggests that turmeric may prevent the formation of blood clots. However, more research is needed before turmeric can be recommended for these conditions.
Several early animal and laboratory studies report anti-cancer (colon, skin, breast) properties of curcumin. Many mechanisms have been considered, including antioxidant activity, anti-angiogenesis (prevention of new blood vessel growth), and direct effects on cancer cells. Currently it remains unclear if turmeric or curcumin has a role in preventing or treating human cancers. There are several ongoing studies in this area.
Curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and to reduce beta-amyloid and plaque burden in lab studies. However, there is currently not enough evidence to suggest the use of curcumin for cognitive performance.
Turmeric has been traditionally used to treat stomach problems (such as indigestion from a fatty meal). There is preliminary evidence that turmeric may offer some relief from these stomach problems. However, at high doses or with prolonged use, turmeric may actually irritate or upset the stomach. Reliable human research is necessary before a recommendation can be made.
Gallstone prevention/bile flow stimulant
It has been said that there are fewer people with gallstones in India, which is sometimes credited to turmeric in the diet. Early studies report that curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, may decrease the occurrence of gallstones. However, reliable human studies are lacking in this area. The use of turmeric may be inadvisable in patients with active gallstones.
Early studies suggest that turmeric may lower levels of low-density lipoprotein ("bad cholesterol") and total cholesterol in the blood. Better human studies are needed before a recommendation can be made.
Several laboratory studies suggest that curcumin, a component of turmeric, may have activity against HIV. However, reliable human studies are lacking in this area.
Laboratory and animal studies show anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric and its constituent curcumin. Reliable human research is lacking.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional disorder for which there are limited reliable medical treatments. One study investigated the effects of
In traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has been used to tone the liver. Early research suggests that turmeric may have a protective effect on the liver, but more research is needed before any recommendations can be made.
Results from lab and animal studies suggest turmeric may have anticancer effects. Large, well-designed human studies are needed before a recommendation can be made.
Turmeric has been used historically to treat rheumatic conditions. Laboratory and animal studies show anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric and its constituent curcumin, which may be beneficial in people with osteoarthritis. Reliable human research is lacking.
Peptic ulcer disease (stomach ulcer)
Turmeric has been used historically to treat stomach and duodenal ulcers. However, at high doses or with prolonged use, turmeric may actually further irritate or upset the stomach. Currently, there is not enough human evidence to make a firm recommendation.
Turmeric has been used historically to treat rheumatic conditions and based on animal research may reduce inflammation. Reliable human studies are necessary before a recommendation can be made in this area.
Historically, turmeric has been used on the skin to treat chronic skin ulcers and scabies. It has also been used in combination with the leaves of the herb
Uveitis (eye inflammation)
Laboratory and animal studies show anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric and its constituent curcumin. A poorly designed human study suggests a possible benefit of curcumin in the treatment of uveitis. Reliable human research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Evidence suggests that turmeric may help treat viral infections. However, there is not enough human evidence in this area. Well-designed trials are needed to determine if these claims are true.