The spice known as turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. Many high-quality studies show that turmeric has major benefits for your body and brain. Many of these benefits come from its main active ingredient, curcumin.
Supplement makers hype this anti-inflammatory as a pain blocker and heart helper. Surprise – some of the hype is even true.
Here, we investigate.
Supplement sellers say that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric root, can reduce the chronic inflammation that can increase pain and your risk of fatigue, heart disease and irritable bowel syndrome. And, they argue, they’ve got the scientific research to back all this up.
“The data on curcumin is not the most robust, but it does have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” says dietitian Brian St. Pierre. Studies show that curcumin reduces inflammation related to IBS, muscle fatigue, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Yes, a 2021 review found that curcumin supplementation helped people with inflammatory diseases, particularly when used with other drug therapies. But popping a pill now and then isn’t going to make any difference, says St. Pierre. It’s on you to regularly and diligently take the supplement.
Should you take it?
If you have chronic fatigue and/or pain, IBS, heart trouble or diabetes, there’s a good chance curcumin can help, though you’ll want to talk to your doctor before you take it. Curcumin may mess with your iron absorption, especially
if you’re on blood thinners, says dietitian Shinta Gale.
What to look for
You want a supplement with a 1000mg recommended dosage. And always buy a brand that has a third-party certification, such as ACS, to ensure that what’s advertised on the label is actually in the product itself.
A version of this article originally appeared in the November 2022 issue of Men’s Health Australia.