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Turmeric powder and root on a wooden table, learn about turmeric supplement benefits

Turmeric is a spice commonly found in curries of all kinds and has been used for thousands of years in India and other cultures as a natural remedy. Turmeric comes from the root of the curcuma longa plant, and contains curcumin; a natural anti-inflammatory said to have considerable health benefits.

Inflammation is a common symptom of many infectious diseases. However, an increasing body of evidence shows chronic inflammation can cause and advance many common diseases including, cancer and autoimmune disorders. With this research, looking at ways to limit unnecessary inflammation in the body creates new ways to find relief. Cooper Clinic Platinum  (Concierge Medicine) Physician Riva Rahl, MD, explores turmeric curcumin’s many benefits and uses. “Most people who take turmeric are now taking it for the curcumin, which is the most potent component in turmeric,” says Dr. Rahl.

Turmeric Supplement Benefit #1: Lowered Inflammatory Signals in the Body

Curcumin from the turmeric plant is an antioxidant that fights free radicals (unstable molecules) in the body that can damage cells. Scavenging free radicals in the body reduces the levels of stress the body experiences. A natural anti-inflammatory, curcumin’s key trait is how it helps prevent the body’s inflammation response before it starts. Turmeric inhibits the release of chemicals in the body that trigger the inflammation process.

“Turmeric works to suppress the protein complex NF-κB, which causes inflammation at a molecular level and is attributed to many chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer,” explains Dr. Rahl. “Beyond suppressing NF-κB, turmeric has also been shown to reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.”

Turmeric Reduces Joint Inflammation

Turmeric studies often focus on curcumin and how it benefits joint health. Many studies have noticed decreases in chronic inflammation throughout the body as a result of taking curcumin. By controlling inflammation levels, curcumin helps reduce pain in the body and joints.

Excessive inflammation in the joints is the leading cause of arthritis pain. Reports show curcumin can be effective at slowing the amount of joint inflammation. Two smaller studies found curcumin to reduce joint swelling and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties make the powerful spice an ideal daily supplement for many people. “I personally take Cooper Complete Turmeric Curcumin Complex Supplement,” says Dr. Rahl. “I like to run a lot which tends to make my joints inflamed. I have found turmeric to really help with that.”

Turmeric Supplement Benefit #2: Improved Skin Health

Skin is another part of the body that can experience damage related to inflammation. In fact, many common skin conditions such as rashes or itching are typically a direct result of skin inflammation.

Using curcumin to control skin health has been the focus of many recent studies. For example, one study used curcumin to improve health after UV ray exposure, and another concerned with curcumin and healthy bacteria found positive results.

Turmeric Supplement Benefit #3: Better Heart Health

Turmeric is said to improve blood vessel function in addition to positively counteracting inflammation and oxidation. For a healthy heart, cholesterol levels must be kept at safe levels to ensure healthy blood flow. Excessive blood lipids, such as cholesterol, lead to fat deposits building on artery walls and increasing blood pressure. As a result, a higher risk of heart disease is directly related to these conditions.

In a study published in the Nutrition Journal, scientists tested the ability of turmeric to control blood lipid levels. Results indicate curcumin was able to reduce blood lipid levels for patients considered at risk for heart disease. The patients in the study taking turmeric curcumin supplements experienced “a natural cardioprotective effect” in controlling LDL and triglyceride levels.

Turmeric Supplement Benefit #4: Digestive Health Support

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, some smaller studies have suggested turmeric may be helpful for digestion. Low stomach acid and bile levels can cause poor digestion. Bacterial infections can result from poor digestion and a lack of stomach fluid to digest food properly.

Turmeric helps by improving the stomach’s response to create the necessary chemicals. Adequate stomach chemicals allow food to break down better and move more efficiently through the body. In addition, turmeric can help prevent ulcers from forming in the stomach resulting from stress or alcohol.

A small study of 116 adults found turmeric better than a placebo for indigestion. The participants taking turmeric took 2000 mg per day (500 mg, four times daily).

It is best to take this dietary supplement with a snack or meal that includes fat, which aids turmeric digestion and absorption.

Turmeric Supplement Benefit #5: Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Preliminary research shows that individuals with metabolic syndrome or prediabetes who take turmeric long term may have a lower chance of advancing to actual diabetes. Curcumin may lessen blood sugar and increase insulin in healthy people after eating. A study of 15 healthy young adults (average age 26 years) found turmeric taken before eating reduced the increase in blood sugar by 61% and insulin levels by 26% compared with a placebo. The same researchers also conducted a 90-day study of 29 adults (average age 52) with insulin resistance and found supplementation reduced insulin resistance compared to placebo.

Turmeric Supplement Benefit #6: Increase Brain Health

Turmeric can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels, which helps form new neurons and therefore could play a role in reducing dementia. It is also shown to boost serotonin and dopamine, which reduces depression.

Turmeric Curcumin Supplement

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Most research shows consuming 1 gram daily of oral curcumin, a constituent of turmeric, improves symptoms of depression after six weeks when taken along with an antidepressant in adults with major depressive disorders. However, it is unclear whether curcumin is beneficial when used for longer than eight weeks.

Forms of Turmeric and Amounts of Curcumin

Turmeric is grown in Southeast Asia. Grocery stores in larger cities may have fresh turmeric root in the produce section and turmeric powder in the spice aisle. Only around 3 percent of turmeric’s total weight contains curcumin, and the turmeric extracts found in supplements are much higher, to levels as high as 95% total curcuminoids. (Cooper Complete Turmeric Curcumin Complex supplement contains curcumin extract standardized to 95% total curcuminoids.)

Enormous amounts of turmeric would need to be consumed in food to approach the levels found in supplements. The typical Southeast Asian diet contains adequate amounts of curcumin where supplementation is not necessary; the American diet, on the other hand, does not. While turmeric is found in most curry, most people don’t know turmeric smoothies and juice add-ins are also available, making it easy to add turmeric into your diet.

Turmeric is best absorbed with a fatty meal. Piperine, a compound found in black pepper, also enhances turmeric absorption by 2000%. Regular black pepper is 2-7% piperine, so it is estimated that ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper is the equivalent of 10 to 35 mg of piperine. Piperine has also been shown to improve the absorption of coenzyme Q10 and iron. Cooper Complete Turmeric Curcumin Complex supplement is a formulation of 1000 mg curcumin (standardized to 95% total curcuminoids) and 10 mg BioPerine® (a patented black pepper extract that is 95% piperine).

Turmeric Side Effects and Risks

When taken in recommended dosages, common side effects of taking a turmeric curcumin supplement can include gas, bloating, and acid reflux. If taken in large doses, the small amount of oxalate found in turmeric may induce problems for people prone to specific types of kidney stones containing oxalates. It is always important to consult your physician before adding a supplement to your regimen. Your physician understands your health profile best, so it’s important to talk to them about which supplements are best for you.

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