10 Top Turmeric Health Benefits & Medicinal Uses

turmeric health benefits

We have never been without using turmeric even for a single day! We use it in cooking, skincare and also in remedies extensively. Turmeric has amazing health benefits and medicinal uses and has been in use for centuries. It is widely used in all forms of Indian medicine. We use it for skin care, reducing inflammation, increasing immunity and treating wide variety of problems like cough, cold, indigestion, wounds, eye infection, eczema, acne, body pain and for fading scars.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a root of a plant, it belongs to the genus Curcuma. There are more than 120 species of turmeric and Curcuma longa is the most used variety. Turmeric is a perennial plant, it grows best in temperatures ranging between 20 degree centigrade and 30 degree centigrade and it needs ample amount of annual rainfall to thrive well.

The plant grows to 1 m in height and has long oblong leaves. It will take 8 to 10 months to harvest turmeric roots. The plant will stop growing at one stage and the leaves will turn into yellow color, we can start harvesting at that stage.

India produces nearly all of the world’s turmeric and consumes 80% of it. Indian turmeric is considered to be the best in the world. Erode, a city in Tamil Nadu is the largest producer of turmeric.

How is Turmeric Powder Prepared?

Usually raw turmeric is not used as such for making turmeric powder. The rhizomes are boiled or steamed to get rid of the raw smell, gelatinize the starch and also to get a more uniformly colored roots.

The fresh roots are taken in a large shallow pot along with sodium bicarbonate and boiled for about 40 to 45 minutes depending upon the variety. The rhizomes are then removed from the water and dried in the sun immediately. The dried rhizomes are polished to remove the rough surface and then packaged.

turmeric varietiesTurmeric Botanical & Common Names:

The botanical name of the variety of turmeric that we use for cooking is called Curcuma Longa. Turmeric is called Manjal in Tamil, Haldi in Hindi, Manjal in Malayalam, Pasupu in Telugu, Arashina in Kannada, Halood in Bengali and Haldi in Punjabi and Gujarati.

Apart from curcuma longa, the other varieties that we commonly use are kasthuri turmeric, white turmeric and mango ginger (Curcuma amada). Kasthuri turmeric and white turmeric are mainly for external applications and mango ginger is used in cooking in small quantities.

Turmeric Chemical Composition

Turmeric contains more than 100 compounds. The main component of turmeric is a volatile oil and colouring agents that lend yellow color to turmeric called curcuminoids. Curcuminoids consists of curcumin, demethoxy curcumin, 5′- methoxycurcumin and dihydrocurcumin which are natural antioxidants.

Turmeric contains 5 to 6 % of curcumin and around 3.5% of volatile oils, the main component of volatile oil is turmerone. The compounds responsible for the smell of turmeric are turmerone, arturmerone and zingiberene.

turmeric dosage

Turmeric Nutrition

100 grams of turmeric contains around 390 calories, 10 grams of fat, 69.9 gms of carbohydrates, 21 gms fiber, 3 gms sugar and 8 gms protein. It also contains .2 gms of calcium, .2 gms of phosphorus, 10 mg of sodium, 2500 mg of potassium and 47 mg of iron. It also contains small amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin c.

Turmeric Traditional Uses

Turmeric has been used as a spice in South Asian and middle eastern cooking for a long time. Apart from cooking we use it extensively in remedies too. We use it for treating almost all the skin problems from boils to acne. In our village, usually there will be a rubbing stone in the bathrooms of every home.

We rub a piece of turmeric along with either water or rice water on it and apply all over the face every single day. This keeps the skin blemish free, we also use turmeric oil for skin care too. Traditionally turmeric along with other herbs is ground into a paste and applied as a bridal bath paste, this gives a nice glow to the skin and it also helps treat all skin infections.

We burn turmeric and inhale the fumes to treat headache and nasal congestion. We grind turmeric along with neem leaves and apply for treating chicken pox scars. We apply turmeric cloth to treat Madras eye and we use turmeric poultice to treat boils. We also consume turmeric tea and turmeric milk to reduce inflammation and improve immunity, we also use them for treating cough, cold and fever.

Turmeric Other Uses

Turmeric is used as a coloring agent in many food products like cheese and butter. It is also used in many commercial baked and dairy products like ice creams, cakes, yogurts, juices, cake icing and sauces as a coloring agent. Both fresh turmeric roots and turmeric powder are used for it.

turmeric medicinal uses10 Top Turmeric Medicinal Uses

1. Anticancer Properties

Turmeric has been effective against the development of various cancers like skin cancer, breast cancer, oral cancer and stomach cancer. Turmeric does this by inhibiting cancer cell mutation, detoxifying carcinogens, decreasing cell proliferation and causing cancer cell death. Topical application of turmeric prevents skin cancer, turmeric extract also prevents animal tumors.

2. Antioxidant Properties

Turmeric is a very very powerful antioxidant and it helps lower oxidative stress. Curcumin found in turmeric fights off free radicals which are the major cause of premature aging by several different mechanisms. It scavenges different forms of free radicals such as reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. It strengthens the effect of enzymes that are active in neutralizing the free radicals and it inhibits free radical generating enzymes.

3. Anti-inflammatory Properties

Another very very important medicinal use of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric reduces inflammation very very fast. Oxidative stress and inflammation are closely linked, inflammatory cells release a number of reactive species in the place of inflammation leading to oxidative stress.

Inflammation and oxidative stress have been linked to the development of many chronic diseases and turmeric is effective in reducing both oxidative stress and inflammation. If you are suffering from any form of inflammation including arthritis, try including turmeric tea or turmeric milk in your diet regularly.

4. Prevents Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome includes high blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and elevated low density lipoprotein cholesterol, high triglyceride levels and obesity. Metabolic syndrome is the leading cause of death worldwide.

Curcumin improves all the conditions of metabolic syndrome, it improves insulin sensitivity, reduces blood pressure, suppresses adipogenesis (development of fat laden cells which accumulate as body fat in various parts of our body) and also helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

5. Has a Protective Effect:

Turmeric has a protective effect on the liver. In a study, just 5% turmeric extract decreased carbon tetrachloride induced liver damage in rats.

Turmeric also has a protective effect on our kidneys, heart and also our brain. Neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy affects millions of people world over.

Neuro inflammation is the reason for many of the problems related to neurodegenerative disorders. Turmeric is very effective for many of the neurological disorders like dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease. This is due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

6. For Depression

Another very interesting and not well known effect of turmeric is it is useful against depression too. A study was done on rats who were forced to swim which caused them lot of stress, they were orally administered turmeric extract for 21 days. This helped reduce the duration of immobility in the water and it also helped reduce swim stress-induced increase in cortisol levels. Turmeric does this by increasing the levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a type of growth hormone which is important for our brain function.

7. Wound Healing Properties

Turmeric is one of the best ingredients to use for healing wounds and ulcers. Here in our village, we use turmeric water for washing wounds to help it heal faster. We also apply turmeric poultice made by rubbing a turmeric root with water in a rubbing stone. We usually mix turmeric with neem and apply as a poultice. Though it is effective on it’s own, mixing it with neem makes it even more effective.

8. Improves Digestion

Turmeric extract improves digestion and it is also one of the best home remedies for irritable bowel syndrome. In a study, 207 volunteers who were suffering from irritable bowel syndrome were given either one or two turmeric tablets daily for 8 weeks. There was significant drop in irritable bowel syndrome after the treatment and the abdominal discomfort also reduced significantly.

Turmeric also helps heal peptic ulcer. In a clinical trial, 45 patients with peptic ulcer were given turmeric capsules 5 times daily. After 4 weeks of treatment, ulcer was absent in 40% of the cases and after 12 weeks, ulcer free cases increased to almost 76%.

9. Antimicrobial Properties

Turmeric has very strong antimicrobial properties. It is effective against bacterial strains like Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Proteus mirabilis. Turmeric also inhibits the growth of food borne pathogen V. parahaemolyticus. Ethanol extract of turmeric is effective against the fungus Trichophyton longifusus. It is because of its wonderful antibacterial properties that it is widely used for treating almost all skin problems.

10. For Skin Care

In our village, turmeric is the number one ingredient we reach out for treating all kinds of skin problems. We use turmeric face packs for treating and preventing acne. We use turmeric oil to massage the body to reduce skin infections and we always add turmeric to bath powder recipes to prevent any skin problems.

turmeric side effects

Where To Buy Turmeric?

We can easily purchase fresh and dry turmeric roots and turmeric powder in all the departmental stores in India. The rest of the ingredients can be ordered online. We get turmeric essential oil, turmeric capsules, turmeric tea, turmeric oil and turmeric face packs in the markets. I would suggest getting organic turmeric roots and powder if possible.

Turmeric Bio Availability

Though turmeric has wonderful health benefits and medicinal uses, one of the biggest problem with consuming turmeric for therapeutic properties is its low bio availability. This is due to poor absorption by our bodies along with rapid metabolism of turmeric and also rapid elimination. This problem can be easily resolved by adding pepper. Pepper contains a compound called piperine which increases the bio availability of turmeric by 2000 %. When using turmeric for therapeutic properties, always use it along with pepper.

Turmeric Dosage:

The amount of turmeric that we use in our day to day cooking will not cause any problems at all but in therapeutic dosages, we have to be a bit cautious. Studies have shown that up to 8 grams of curcumin per day has not shown any toxic side effects so please try not to go above 8 gram per day. You can read the side effects of turmeric in detail here.

turmeric nutrition5 Top Ways To Use Turmeric

1. Turmeric Oil

Turmeric oil is an infusion of turmeric with coconut oil. Massaging with turmeric oil helps keep the skin blemish free and glowing. We pound turmeric roots and steep it in coconut oil till the oil is infused with turmeric, you can find the method here.

2. Turmeric Tea

Turmeric tea is very famous in our place. To make the tea, we mix turmeric powder along with other spices like ginger, cardamom and pepper. It is very comforting to drink and helps reduce inflammation very fast. You can find the recipe for it here.

3. Turmeric Water

We use turmeric water in many remedies. We use it for washing wounds and it helps heal it faster. We dip cotton cloth in turmeric water and use it as an eye compress to reduce eye infections. We sprinkle turmeric water around the house to get rid of insects and pests.

4. Turmeric Face Packs

Turmeric face packs are so famous all over world and I’m sure many of you must have tried turmeric face pack at least once. Turmeric face packs can be made in many ways depending upon our skin problem. It can be used to treat acne, fade scars and even out the skin tone, you can find turmeric face pack recipes here.

5. Turmeric Milk

We usually make turmeric milk to improve immunity and also to heal internal wounds. Always make turmeric milk with black pepper to increase the absorption of turmeric, you can find the benefits and how to make it here.

turmeric for skin care


  1. RaiFai
    January 27, 2015 / 9:52 am

    This looks like a good way to take turmeric. Thanks.I have a condition that occurs occasionally, where a blood vessel in a finger may unexpectedly burst, causing pain & bruising. When I take turmeric tablets or in other forms, it seems to happen more often. Can you suggest anything to help avoid this, so I can take advantage of turmerics anti inflammatory qualities?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      January 29, 2015 / 4:29 pm

      Hi sir,I am sorry, I don't have any idea regarding the condition that you mentioned….

    • Anonymous
      February 8, 2015 / 8:16 am

      Tumeric can make your blood thinner. It is one of the herbs that is not to be taken in patients on warfarin as it causes more bleeding in patients. I'm sorry I don't have the exact information in my head as in how it interacts with your blood cells, but in patients taking warfarin it reduces the bloods ability to clot, ie. They bruise more easily. Hope that helps you.

  2. jega
    January 28, 2015 / 7:02 am

    Please provide the tips of neck pain

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      January 29, 2015 / 3:56 pm

      Hi jega, if the neck pain is due to an injury and is inflamed try the ice pack from the blog, else for regular muscle pain try the salt compress. You can also try the tamarind paste application from the blog, it works very well for some….

  3. vaishnavi jai
    February 3, 2015 / 6:26 pm

    Wish I had seen this post a little earlier. Just let week used the left over turmeric from pongal to be used as powder šŸ™

  4. Penny
    February 20, 2015 / 9:20 pm

    Where will I find turmeric root?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      February 21, 2015 / 3:56 pm

      Hi Penny, You can easily order turmeric root online….

    • Anonymous
      October 15, 2016 / 12:36 pm

      I buy fresh organic ginger and turmeric from Amazon.com, shipped right to my door.

  5. Anonymous
    March 11, 2015 / 2:17 am

    When you mix the ingredients together (for arthritis), do you rub it on the affected area or do you take a few drops by mouth?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      March 11, 2015 / 8:38 am

      You take a few drops by mouth…

  6. Anonymous
    March 11, 2015 / 10:34 am

    Is there any other way to use the turmeric root instead of storing it with vodka? Or can it be consumed directly or with milk. I have pain in my knees and sometimes small joints also pain. Is it useful for this also.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      March 13, 2015 / 3:49 pm

      Hi, Fresh turmeric root can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or it can be made into a tincture with glycerin, but it is not as effective as alcohol based tinctures. Turmeric, consumed in any form will benefit joint and knee pain. Try it with milk, that is the best way to consume turmeric. But use at least 1/2 tsp of good quality turmeric powder for a cup of milk and try consuming it for a few days to see results…..

  7. Anonymous
    March 14, 2015 / 12:08 pm

    thank you Ramya, I will try.

  8. Mary Wardlow
    April 14, 2015 / 8:35 pm

    Can this be done with dried root? Any suggestions on how?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      April 17, 2015 / 4:38 pm

      It will be very hard to infuse the dried root as it is next to impossible to grate it. But you can try breaking it into small pieces with a sharp instrument and then infusing it in alcohol for longer periods of time…….

  9. Anonymous
    July 25, 2015 / 11:52 pm

    What about recipes with using tumeric essential oil

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      July 30, 2015 / 5:10 pm

      You can add turmeric essential oil to a base oil and use it for treating acne, arthritis, skin allergies and even as a massage oil…

  10. Anonymous
    January 24, 2016 / 2:10 am

    Hi Ramya,If I want to take the turmeric extract in a powder form, is it possible to dry the vodka mixture and then consume what's left? I would like to be able to put the powder in capsules if possible.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      February 27, 2016 / 12:54 pm

      I would suggest using pure organic turmeric powder instead of drying out the turmeric tincture…

  11. Anonymous
    April 14, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    Hi Ramya Is it possible to start a small business of selling turmeric extract? Pls suggest, any success storyDr. Rajeev

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      May 30, 2016 / 7:53 am

      I guess you can sell turmeric extract made with organic turmeric roots. I don't know anyone who has marketed turmeric extract…:)

  12. Unknown
    May 24, 2016 / 9:45 am

    Dear turmeric tincture users using equal amounts (8oz) of turmeric, garlic and ginger makes the tincture very potent against many ailment including coughs, flu and colds.

  13. Unknown
    January 11, 2017 / 4:57 am

    Hi Ramya, My mother is suffering almost last 15 years with knee pain , is it useful to use this now , if possible can you can you able extract and send, i will credit to your account..

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      January 12, 2017 / 5:48 pm

      Hi, turmeric in any form will help with easing inflammation, it need not be only in extract form. Try turmeric tea for your mother, it also works well in easing the inflammation, you can find the video recipe for it here

  14. cydney hubbard
    January 22, 2017 / 12:04 am

    I have Lupus and kidney failure.

  15. Unknown
    March 4, 2017 / 7:48 pm

    Hi,I am interested in making the extract with both apple cider vinegar and alcohol in order to get the most out of the turmeric while getting the added benefit of the acv. Any ideas on how to do this? Should I combine alc and acv right off the bat or extract with one or the other first? I do not want to damage the fermentation process by introducing one or the other at the wrong time…. Any ideas are much appreciated. Thanks!

  16. Punci
    July 16, 2017 / 8:13 am

    Hi, any other method to extract turmeric oil without use of alcohol..?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      July 16, 2017 / 3:22 pm

      You can add vegetable glycerin to extract the turmeric.

    • Punci
      July 30, 2017 / 7:23 am

      there will be two separate layers.?

  17. Nee Kok Teh
    October 13, 2017 / 4:52 pm

    Hi Ramya,Thank you so much for all your kind sharing.Our family members are prone to high uric acid and some of us are suffering from gout pain.May I know which types of turmeric (i.e. Kasthuri manjal, Kuda manjal, Kari manjal, etc) most suitable to make into capsule which we can take daily?Do you have any recipes for a good capsule preparation?Thank you. God bless

  18. caraalis
    December 1, 2017 / 8:26 pm

    Hi, I am fortunate to have curcumin delivered fresh from Morocco frequently..So I was perusing the internet looking to make all this fresh powder into an extract to take around when I travel,I never comment on any page, but I couldn't resist laughing when I heard about using the 40% proof vodka for extraction. So I gotta' ask you….are you sure it's not the vodka that takes away the pain? Or at least the worry?Hahhaha… 'scuse me but just couldn't resist…With all do respect however you are right, and as a Doctor and long proponent of natural medicine (I am recovering/always recovering from a blood transfusion containing Hep. C. ) I keep an eye out for anything that can give the power of cure back to the patients.So atta boy Ramya. The future of our world will be many times better once people realise that Drs are not what you think they are…..

  19. Piolin
    October 27, 2018 / 5:48 am

    Thanks for this recipe, I’ll try it. Just one thing, tinctures made in strong alcohol last indefinitely.

  20. TC King
    July 1, 2019 / 6:49 pm

    Hi Ramya! Iā€™m about to make some turmeric extract, and came across your site along with others. I am wondering why your recipe says to bottle in dark glass and keep cool, whereas the others say to put it in clear glass and place in sunny window for three weeks! Quite opposite directions for same ingredients- just wondering why so different?

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