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Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Have you ever heard of turmeric, the golden yellow spice that supposedly has many health claims, like accelerated healing, treating inflammation and reversing auto-immune conditions? Is this hype or evidence based? Since it costs pennies per day, it probably isn’t a marketing scam, because there’s no profit margin in selling spices.

Spices are perfectly suited to get studied in double blind, randomized and placebo controlled trials. They fit neatly into capsules and can be tested against inactive placebos easily. Turmeric (and its potent pigment curcumin) is one of the most studied spices ever.

What does the science say about it?

Most spices are concentrated and potent enough to have significant clinical effects, some even comparable to modern medicines, and turmeric is no different.

Turmeric has been found to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. It also has been found to have potent protective effects against multiple chronic, degenerative diseases, inflammatory conditions, as well as certain cancers. It has been shown to promote weight loss and decrease pain. There aren’t many prescription drugs that have that resumé!

Amounts as small as 1/16 tsp up to 2 tbsp have been studied, but due to its potency, which is comparable to certain pharmacological compounds, amounts in the order of 1/4 tsp per day are recommended as safe and effective. Like any prescribed medical compound, taking turmeric every few weeks will confer minimal benefits. Treating it like a pharmacological drug and taking small amounts regularly, even everyday, is mostly how someone will see the measurable benefits.

Piperine, an active compound of black pepper, has been found to increase blood levels of turmeric by up to 2000% by inhibiting its liver metabolism. Consuming a pinch of black pepper at the same time is recommended to increase turmeric bioavailability.

Cooked turmeric seems to have better antioxidant activity and the raw form is more anti-inflammatory. So any way you want to take it is the good one! I enjoy switching it up, in order to benefit from all that this spice has to offer. Most people chuckle when they hear about spices being used as medicines, not realizing that these potent compounds have great scientific evidence backing them up. No one is claiming that a pinch of turmeric is going to make you bullet-proof, but lowering chronic inflammation (measured by serial testing of serum inflammatory markers) has been shown in people who use turmeric regularly, and there have been many documented cases where symptoms of chronic inflammatory conditions were significantly reduced, or even reversed, in patients who started taking turmeric.

We use it to colour our scrambled tofu and hide it in our smoothies, curries, stir-frys and anywhere else we can sneak it without the kids noticing. Its bright yellow pigment might change the colour of your meal, so plan accordingly. Try it in a variety of meals you already eat, small pinches at a time, with the goal being to get to a total of 1/4 tsp per day. Let me know if ever you feel any different after a few weeks! Turmeric teas and lattes have increased in popularity recently and are also a great way to use this magical spice.

In conclusion, we have an extremely cheap and readily available spice accessible to almost anyone, that can be consumed in many different ways and that has proven medicinal properties. Why weren’t we made aware of this magical spice before? Probably because nobody profits from a spice that costs a few cents per day. I consume turmeric daily, and I’d suggest you consider using it too! It's not a matter of opinion anymore, but a matter of science. Remember that adding healthy foods to your plate is even more important than removing the unhealthy ones.

Look for me on the socials, @plantbased_dr_jules on Instagram and go like my Facebook Page, Plant-based Dr. Jules. If you’re looking for some fitness motivation and are curious to see what a plant-based athlete can accomplish, follow me, @maritimeninja, on my fitness account on Instagram or check out my fitness group on Facebook, called Maritime Ninja Warrior. I'm a two-time world championship qualified athlete and you can follow my fitness journey there! You can even access the resources section by becoming a member. It's free and there, you can download free resources like my plant-based recipe eBook!

You also check out my YouTube channel here for more tips and tricks on how to embark on a plant-based journey!

Plant-based Dr Jules 🌱💚

Hay E, Lucariello A, Contieri M, Esposito T, De Luca A, Guerra G, Perna A. Therapeutic effects of turmeric in several diseases: An overview. Chem Biol Interact. 2019 Sep 1;310:108729. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2019.108729. Epub 2019 Jun 27. PMID: 31255636.

Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Jun;14(2):141-53. Erratum in: Altern Med Rev. 2009 Sep;14(3):277. PMID: 19594223.

Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017 Oct 22;6(10):92. doi: 10.3390/foods6100092. PMID: 29065496; PMCID: PMC5664031.

Di Meo F, Margarucci S, Galderisi U, Crispi S, Peluso G. Curcumin, Gut Microbiota, and Neuroprotection. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 11;11(10):2426. doi: 10.3390/nu11102426. PMID: 31614630; PMCID: PMC6835970.

Yang M, Akbar U, Mohan C. Curcumin in Autoimmune and Rheumatic Diseases. Nutrients. 2019 May 2;11(5):1004. doi: 10.3390/nu11051004. PMID: 31052496; PMCID: PMC6566522.

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