Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) Benefits with Scientific Proof

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. The main constituents are polyphenolic curcuminoids which include: curcumin (diferuloylmethan), demethoxycurcumin, bisde methoxycurcumin, and cyclocurcumin. Curcumin is one of the most abundant and well studied constituents of turmeric.

Scientifically proven therapeutic properties

Antioxidant & cytoprotective

Curcumin and turmeric as a whole plant extract have strong antioxidant effects [1]. Turmeric can scavenge hazardous free radicals, prevent oxidative stress[2], and stimulate cytoprotective enzymes that in turn act to resolve the consequences of hazardous oxidation [1], [3].

  • 1. Dinkova-Kostova A.T., Talalay P. Direct and indirect antioxidant properties of inducers of cytoprotective proteins. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Jun;52 Suppl 1:S128-38. PubMed
  • 2. Suryanarayana P, Satyanarayana A, Balakrishna N, Kumar PU, Reddy GB. Effect of turmeric and curcumin on oxidative stress and antioxidant enzymes in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat. Med Sci Monit. 2007 Dec;13(12):BR286-92. PubMed
  • 3. Lavoie S., Chen Y., Dalton T.P., Gysin R., Cuénod M., Steullet P., D.O. K.Q. Curcumin, quercetin, and tBHQ modulate glutathione levels in astrocytes and neurons: importance of the glutamate cysteine ligase modifier subunit. Journal of Neurochemistry. 2009;108:1410–1422. PubMed

Anticarcinogenic & chemopreventive

Turmeric and its main active component work as antimutagens and anticarcinogens[4], [5], and exert a wide range of chemopreventive actions.

Experimental and animal studies have demonstrated that curcumin inhibits carcinogenesis at three stages: tumor promotion, angiogenesis, and tumor growth[7], [6]. Turmeric suppresses the activity of several mutagens and carcinogens, such as benzopyrene (pollutant and carcinogen) [7] and DMBA (immunosuppressor and potent laboratory carcinogen) [8].

  • 4. Nagpal M, Sood S. Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jan;4(1):3-7. PubMed
  • 5. Ragunathan I, Panneerselvam N. Antimutagenic potential of curcumin on chromosomal aberrations in Allium cepa. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2007 Jul;8(7):470-5 PubMed
  • 6. Pantazis P, Varman A, Simpson-Durand C, Thorpe J, Ramalingam S, Subramaniam D, Houchen C, Ihnat M, Anant S, Ramanujam RP. Curcumin and turmeric attenuate arsenic-induced angiogenesis in ovo. Altern Ther Health Med. 2010 Mar-Apr;16(2):12-4. PubMed
  • 7. Mukundan MA, Chacko MC, Annapurna VV, Krishnaswamy K. Effect of turmeric and curcumin on BP-DNA adducts. Carcinogenesis. 1993 Mar;14(3):493-6. PubMed
  • 8. Liju VB, Jeena K, Kuttan R. Chemopreventive activity of turmeric essential oil and possible mechanisms of action. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(16):6575-80. PubMed


Many experimental and animal studies have demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric.

The anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric is mediated through its ability to inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipoxygenase (LOX), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), IFN-gamma, and NFkappaB [9], [10]. COX-2, LOX, and iNOS are important enzymes involved in inflammation processes. Also, turmeric increases and prolongs the action of the body’s natural anti-inflammatory adrenal hormone cortisone.

  • 9. Menon VP, Sudheer AR. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:105-25. PubMed
  • 10. Lantz RC, Chen GJ, Solyom AM, Jolad SD, Timmermann BN. The effect of turmeric extracts on inflammatory mediator production. Phytomedicine. 2005 Jun;12(6-7):445-52. PubMed

Antimicrobial, Antibacterial, Antifungal and Antiviral

Turmeric extract and the essential oil of Curcuma longa inhibit the growth of a variety of bacteria, parasites, and pathogenic fungi.

Turmeric extract and the essential oil of Curcuma longa inhibit the growth of bacteria, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) [11], E. faecalis[12], Helicobacter pylori[13]. Also, turmeric inhibits Staphylococcus aureus sortase A, a surface protein that Staphylococcus aureus uses to invade the tissues[16].

Turmeric inhibits replication of hepatitis C and B viruses[14-15], and Human Papillioma Virus[18].

Curcumin is a very promising medicine against malaria - it inhibits Plasmodium Falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria[17].

Tumeric oil has antifungal activity against dermatophytes, pathogenic molds, yeasts[19]. Turmeric has antifungal effects against many species of Candida[20].

  • 11. Kim KJ, Yu HH, Cha JD, Seo SJ, Choi NY, You YO. Antibacterial activity of Curcuma longa L. against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Phytother Res. 2005 Jul;19(7):599-604. PubMed
  • 12. Prabhakar A, Taur S, Hadakar S, Sugandhan S. Comparison of Antibacterial Efficacy of Calcium Hydroxide Paste, 2% Chlorhexidine Gel and Turmeric Extract as an Intracanal Medicament and their Effect on Microhardness of Root Dentin: An in vitro Study. Int J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2013 Sep;6(3):171-7. PubMed
  • 13. De R, Kundu P, Swarnakar S, Ramamurthy T, Chowdhury A, Nair GB, Mukhopadhyay AK. Antimicrobial activity of curcumin against Helicobacter pylori isolates from India and during infections in mice. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2009 Apr;53(4):1592-7. PubMed
  • 14. Kim K, Kim KH, Kim HY, Cho HK, Sakamoto N, Cheong J. Curcumin inhibits hepatitis C virus replication via suppressing the Akt-SREBP-1 pathway. FEBS Lett. 2010 Feb 19;584(4):707-12. PubMed
  • 15. Kim HJ, Yoo HS, Kim JC, Park CS, Choi MS, Kim M, Choi H, Min JS, Kim YS, Yoon SW, Ahn JK. Antiviral effect of Curcuma longa Linn extract against hepatitis B virus replication. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jul 15;124(2):189-96. PubMed
  • 16. Park BS, Kim JG, Kim MR, Lee SE, Takeoka GR, Oh KB, Kim JH. Curcuma longa L. constituents inhibit sortase A and Staphylococcus aureus cell adhesion to fibronectin. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 16;53(23):9005-9. PubMed
  • 17. Reddy RC, Vatsala PG, Keshamouni VG, Padmanaban G, Rangarajan PN. Curcumin for malaria therapy. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Jan 14;326(2):472-4. PubMed
  • 18. Singh AK, Misra K. Human papilloma virus 16 E6 protein as a target for curcuminoids, curcumin conjugates and congeners for chemoprevention of oral and cervical cancers. Interdiscip Sci. 2013 Jun;5(2):112-8 PubMed
  • 19. Apisariyakul A, Vanittanakom N, Buddhasukh D. Antifungal activity of turmeric oil extracted from Curcuma longa (Zingiberaceae). J Ethnopharmacol. 1995 Dec 15;49(3):163-9. PubMed
  • 20. Sharma M1, Manoharlal R, Puri N, Prasad R. Antifungal curcumin induces reactive oxygen species and triggers an early apoptosis but prevents hyphae development by targeting the global repressor TUP1 in Candida albicans. Biosci Rep. 2010 Dec;30(6):391-404. doi: 10.1042/BSR20090151. PubMed

Anti-atherosclerotic & thrombosuppressive

Turmeric helps to prevent atherosclerosis by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, decreasing susceptibility of low density lipoprotein (LDL) to oxidation, and reducing the formation of bloods clots[21-23].

The anti-atherogenic effect of curcumin is confirm in patients with type 2 diabetes[24].

There is limited evidence on cholesterol-lowering effects of curcumin[25].

  • 21. Jin S, Hong JH, Jung SH, Cho KH. Turmeric and laurel aqueous extracts exhibit in vitro anti-atherosclerotic activity and in vivo hypolipidemic effects in a zebrafish model. J Med Food. 2011 Mar;14(3):247-56. PubMed
  • 22. Ramírez-Tortosa MC, Mesa MD, Aguilera MC, Quiles JL, Baró L, Ramirez-Tortosa CL, Martinez-Victoria E, Gil A. Oral administration of a turmeric extract inhibits LDL oxidation and has hypocholesterolemic effects in rabbits with experimental atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis. 1999 Dec;147(2):371-8. PubMed
  • 23. Mayanglambam A, Dangelmaier CA, Thomas D, Damodar Reddy C, Daniel JL, Kunapuli SP. Curcumin inhibits GPVI-mediated platelet activation by interfering with the kinase activity of Syk and the subsequent activation of PLCgamma2. Platelets. 2010;21(3):211-20. PubMed
  • 24. Chuengsamarn S, Rattanamongkolgul S, Phonrat B, Tungtrongchitr R, Jirawatnotai S. Reduction of atherogenic risk in patients with type 2 diabetes by curcuminoid extract: a randomized controlled trial. J Nutr Biochem. 2014 Feb;25(2):144-50. PubMed
  • 25. Yang YS, Su YF, Yang HW, Lee YH, Chou JI, Ueng KC. Lipid-lowering effects of curcumin in patients with metabolic syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Dec;28(12):1770-7. PubMed

Hepatoprotective & choleretic

Turmeric exerts hepatoprotective and detoxification properties[26] similar to milk thistle. Turmeric prevents the development of fatty liver[28], prevents and reverses cirrhosis[29], decreases liver injury induced by chemicals and drugs[30]. Also, turmeric has potential to enhance biliary contraction and bile flow[27].

  • 26. Bao W, Li K, Rong S, Yao P, Hao L, Ying C, Zhang X, Nussler A, Liu L. Curcumin alleviates ethanol-induced hepatocytes oxidative damage involving heme oxygenase-1 induction. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Mar 24;128(2):549-53. PubMed
  • 27. Boonjaraspinyo S, Boonmars T, Aromdee C, Puapairoj A, Wu Z. Indirect effect of a turmeric diet: enhanced bile duct proliferation in Syrian hamsters with a combination of partial obstruction by Opisthorchis viverrini infection and inflammation by N-nitrosodimethylamine administration.
  • 28. Yiu WF, Kwan PL, Wong CY, Kam TS, Chiu SM, Chan SW, Chan R. Attenuation of fatty liver and prevention of hypercholesterolemia by extract of Curcuma longa through regulating the expression of CYP7A1, LDL-receptor, HO-1, and HMG-CoA reductase. J Food Sci. 2011 Apr;76(3):H80-9. PubMed
  • 29. Reyes-Gordillo K, Segovia J, Shibayama M, Tsutsumi V, Vergara P, Moreno MG, Muriel P. Curcumin prevents and reverses cirrhosis induced by bile duct obstruction or CCl4 in rats: role of TGF-beta modulation and oxidative stress. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Aug;22(4):417-27. PubMed
  • 30. El-Ashmawy IM, Ashry KM, El-Nahas AF, Salama OM. Protection by turmeric and myrrh against liver oxidative damage and genotoxicity induced by lead acetate in mice. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2006 Jan;98(1):32-7. PubMed


Curcumin has neuroprotective properties and may prevent neurodegeneration (progressive deterioration of neurons) [31-32].

  • 31. Huang HC, Xu K, Jiang ZF. Curcumin-mediated neuroprotection against amyloid-β-induced mitochondrial dysfunction involves the inhibition of GSK-3β. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;32(4):981-96. PubMed
  • 32. Xiong Z, Hongmei Z, Lu S, Yu L. Curcumin mediates presenilin-1 activity to reduce β-amyloid production in a model of Alzheimer's Disease. Pharmacol Rep. 2011;63(5):1101-8 PubMed


The renoprotective effect of curcumin[33] has been documented in several experimental studies, including diabetic nephropathy[34], chronic renal failure[35], ischemia[36], damage caused by shock-wave lithotripsy[37], and nephrotoxicity induced by drugs and toxic chemicals.

  • 33. Trujillo J, Chirino YI, Molina-Jijón E, Andérica-Romero AC, Tapia E, Pedraza-Chaverrí J. Renoprotective effect of the antioxidant curcumin: Recent findings. Redox Biol. 2013 Sep 17;1(1):448-56. PubMed
  • 34. Soetikno V., Watanabe K., Sari F.R., Harima M., Thandavarayan R.A., Veeraveedu P.T., Arozal W., Sukumaran V., Lakshmanan A.P., Arumugam S., Suzuki K. Curcumin attenuates diabetic nephropathy by inhibiting PKC- α and PKC-β1 activity in streptozotocin-induced type I diabetic rats. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Nov;55(11):1655-65. PubMed
  • 35. Soetikno V., Sari F.R., Lakshmanan A.P., Arumugam S., Harima M., Suzuki K., Kawachi H., Watanabe K. Curcumin alleviates oxidative stress, inflammation, and renal fibrosis in remnant kidney through the Nrf2-keap1 pathway. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Nov;55(11):1655-65. PubMed
  • 36. Bayrak O., Uz E., Bayrak R., Turgut F., Atmaca A.F., Sahin S., Yildirim M.E., Kaya A., Cimentepe E., Akcay A. Curcumin protects against ischemia/reperfusion injury in rat kidneys. World J Urol. 2008 Jun;26(3):285-91. PubMed
  • 37. Bas M, Tugcu V, Kemahli E, Ozbek E, Uhri M, Altug T, Tasci AI. Curcumin prevents shock-wave lithotripsy-induced renal injury through inhibition of nuclear factor kappa-B and inducible nitric oxide synthase activity in rats. Urol Res. 2009 Jun;37(3):159-64. PubMed


Topically applied curcumin promotes faster wound healing, and enhances the repair and regeneration of wounds [38-39]. Latest 2015 animal research has shown that curcumin enhances neovasculogenesis, a vital process for wound healing[40].

  • 38. Kant V, Gopal A, Pathak NN, Kumar P, Tandan SK, Kumar D. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of curcumin accelerated the cutaneous wound healing in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Int Immunopharmacol. 2014 Jun;20(2):322-30. PubMed
  • 39. Jagetia GC, Rajanikant GK. Curcumin treatment enhances the repair and regeneration of wounds in mice exposed to hemibody gamma-irradiation. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2005 Feb;115(2):515-28. PubMed
  • 40. Kant V, Gopal A, Kumar D, Pathak NN, Ram M, Jangir BL, Tandan SK, Kumar D. Curcumin-induced angiogenesis hastens wound healing in diabetic rats. J Surg Res. 2015 Feb;193(2):978-88. PubMed

Diseases and Conditions


Turmeric reduces pain, inflammation and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Turmeric has potential to inhibit joint inflammation and destruction [41], slow down the progression and severity of rheumatoid arthritis[46].

There is clear evidence that curcuma extract at doses 1.5 - 2 g per day provides  pain relief and functional improvement in knee osteoarthritis similar to ibuprofen [43], [45]. One clinical trial found that turmeric supplement Meriva® provided long-term improvement in pain and function in patients with knee osteoarthritis [42]. Japanese 2014 study confirmed the effectiveness of Theracurmin® for treating knee osteoarthritis [47].

In a small 2012 pilot study curcumin reduced joint tenderness and swelling in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis better than diclofenac[44].

  • 41. Funk JL, Frye JB, Oyarzo JN, et al.Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Nov;54(11):3452-64. PubMed
  • 42. Belcaro G1, Cesarone MR, Dugall M, Pellegrini L, Ledda A, Grossi MG, Togni S, Appendino G. Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Dec;15(4):337-44. PubMed
  • 43. Kuptniratsaikul V, Thanakhumtorn S, Chinswangwatanakul P, Wattanamongkonsil L, Thamlikitkul V. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):891-7. PubMed
  • 44. Chandran B, Goel A. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25. PubMed
  • 45. Kuptniratsaikul V, Dajpratham P, Taechaarpornkul W, Buntragulpoontawee M, Lukkanapichonchut P, Chootip C, Saengsuwan J, Tantayakom K, Laongpech S. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Mar 20;9:451-8. PubMed
  • 46. Huang G, Xu Z, Huang Y, Duan X, Gong W, Zhang Y, Fan J, He F. Curcumin protects against collagen-induced arthritis via suppression of BAFF production. J Clin Immunol. 2013 Apr;33(3):550-7. PubMed
  • 47. Nakagawa Y, Mukai S, Yamada S, Matsuoka M, Tarumi E, Hashimoto T, Tamura C, Imaizumi A, Nishihira J, Nakamura T. Short-term effects of highly-bioavailable curcumin for treating knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled prospective study. J Orthop Sci. 2014 Nov;19(6):933-9 PubMed


Recent 2014 high quality studies of patients with major depressive disorder have demonstrated that curcumin may be an effective and safe treatment for depression, including atypical depression [48-49]. Benefits occur after 4 to 8 weeks of treatment.

  • 48. Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, Trivedi J, Patel T, Tiwari D, Panchal B, Goel A, Tripathi CB. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85. PubMed
  • 49. Lopresti AL, Maes M, Maker GL, Hood SD, Drummond PD. Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2014 Oct;167:368-75. PubMed

Ulcerative colitis, IBS, & Gastroprotective Benefits

Curcumin is effective adjunctive therapy for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis[50].

Preliminary research indicates that turmeric extract improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms[51].

Turmeric can increase bowel motility and activate hydrogen-producing bacterial flora in the colon[52]. Also, turmeric promotes healing of peptic ulcers[53].

  • 50. Kumar S, Ahuja V, Sankar MJ, Kumar A, Moss AC. Curcumin for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD008424. PubMed
  • 51. Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Booth J. Turmeric extract may improve irritable bowel syndrome symptomology in otherwise healthy adults: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Dec;10(6):1015-8. PubMed
  • 52. Shimouchi A, Nose K, Takaoka M, Hayashi H, Kondo T. Effect of dietary turmeric on breath hydrogen. Dig Dis Sci. 2009 Aug;54(8):1725-9.
  • 53. Prucksunand C, Indrasukhsri B, Leethochawalit M, Hungspreugs K. Phase II clinical trial on effect of the long turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn) on healing of peptic ulcer. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2001 Mar;32(1):208-15.

Eye inflammatory diseases

Curcumin is has great potential in the treatment of inflammatory and degenerative eye diseases[54]. There is evidence that turmeric may help reduce symptoms of chronic uveitis [55-56]. Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye between the white part and the retina.

  • 54. Mazzolani F, Togni S. Oral administration of a curcumin-phospholipid delivery system for the treatment of central serous chorioretinopathy: a 12-month follow-up study. Clin Ophthalmol. 2013;7:939-45. PubMed
  • 55. Lal B, Kapoor AK, Asthana OP, Agrawal PK, Prasad R, Kumar P, Srimal RC. Efficacy of curcumin in the management of chronic anterior uveitis. Phytother Res. 1999 Jun;13(4):318-22. PubMed
  • 56. Allegri P, Mastromarino A, Neri P. Management of chronic anterior uveitis relapses: efficacy of oral phospholipidic curcumin treatment. Long-term follow-up. Clin Ophthalmol. 2010 Oct 21;4:1201-6. PubMed

Liver function

High quality study[57] has demonstrated that turmeric improves liver function by lowering levels of alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). Turmeric supplementation can also decrease levels of gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), which are elevated in disease of the bile ducts and in some liver diseases.

  • 57. Kim SW, Ha KC, Choi EK et al. The effectiveness of fermented turmeric powder in subjects with elevated alanine transaminase levels: a randomised controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Mar 8;13:58. PubMed


Turmeric is an effective medicine for postoperative pain [58]. It works by means of anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive mechanisms[59-60].

Recent 2014 animal study demonstrated that curcumin treatment is effective in alleviating inflammation, nociceptive sensitization, and functional gait abnormalities[61].

  • 58. Agarwal KA, Tripathi CD, Agarwal BB, Saluja S. Efficacy of turmeric (curcumin) in pain and postoperative fatigue after laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study. Surg Endosc. 2011 Dec;25(12):3805-10. PubMed
  • 59. Lee JY, Shin TJ, Choi JM, Seo KS, Kim HJ, Yoon TG, Lee YS, Han H, Chung HJ, Oh Y, Jung SJ, Shin KJ. Antinociceptive curcuminoid, KMS4034, effects on inflammatory and neuropathic pain likely via modulating TRPV1 in mice. Br J Anaesth. 2013 Oct;111(4):667-72. PubMed
  • 60. Zhao X, Xu Y, Zhao Q, Chen CR, Liu AM, Huang ZL. Curcumin exerts antinociceptive effects in a mouse model of neuropathic pain: descending monoamine system and opioid receptors are differentially involved. Neuropharmacology. 2012 Feb;62(2):843-54. PubMed
  • 61. Sahbaie P, Sun Y, Liang DY, Shi XY, Clark JD. Curcumin treatment attenuates pain and enhances functional recovery after incision. PubMed

Lactational mastitis

Topical application of curcumin decreases pain, breast tension and erythema in women with lactational mastitis [62].

  • 62. Afshariani R, Farhadi P, Ghaffarpasand F, Roozbeh J. Effectiveness of topical curcumin for treatment of mastitis in breastfeeding women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Oman Med J. 2014 Sep;29(5):330-4.

Created: January 27, 2015
Last updated: January 27, 2015

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