Turmeric (Haldi) – Curcuma Longa

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Turmeric (also called Haldi and Haridra in Hindi and Curcuma Longa botanically) is a precious herb used in ayurveda and folk medicine. Due to its many preventive and health benefits, it is included in the Indian Foods as an important spice. Nowadays, Turmeric Supplements are also becoming famous in western world, which are used for preventive as well as therapeutic purposes.

Turmeric is a rhizomatous perennial plant belonging to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. This herbaceous plant is a native to the southern Asia and grows well at temperatures between 20 and 30 °C. It requires a considerable amount of rainfall to survive. The plants are gathered annually for its rhizomes and propagated from some of the rhizomes in the next season.

Medicinal Parts of Turmeric

Turmeric powder (Haldi Churna), which is the most commonly used form of this herb, is obtained from the root of the plant that has a tough brownish skin and a dark orange flesh. Turmeric is referred to as “Indian saffron” because of its deep orange-yellow color. It has a warm, peppery, and sometimes bitter flavor with a unique fragrance that is mildly reminiscent of ginger and orange.

Chemical Composition of Turmeric

Turmeric contains more than 90 active constituents, most of which have overlapping biological activities. Here is the list of active constituents of Turmeric.

Curcuminoids

The important chemical constituents of turmeric are the compounds called Curcuminoids, which include demethoxycurcumin, curcumin (diferuloylmethane), and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Among these, curcumin is the best-studied compound and constitutes 3.14% of the powdered turmeric on average.

Curcuminoids are responsible for most of the biological activities of turmeric. These are natural polyphenols, which help in improving the cell communication. They also reduce the release of cytokines, and prostaglandins thereby controlling inflammation in the body’s cells and tissues.

The prime Curcuminoids in turmeric is Curcumin. Curcumin is a pH indicator that turns yellow when in acidic solutions and red when in alkaline solutions. It also acts as a potent antioxidant and possesses anti-mutagenic proteins, which prevent the cells from undergoing mutations. It stops the toxic compounds from causing damage to the body tissues.

The other important Curcuminoids in turmeric, bisdemethoxycurcumin, and demethoxycurcumin, work together to counteract the factors causing coronary and autoimmune diseases that usually develop as a result of a poor diet and exposure to toxins.

Another important phytochemical in turmeric is 1, 8-cineole, which is a powerful expectorant and an antiseptic agent. It helps to eliminate gas, stimulates the nervous system, aids circulation, and improves the blood vessel elasticity. It also lowers bad cholesterol, inhibits platelet aggregation and improves physical endurance.

Vitamins

Turmeric (Haldi) provides a rich source of essential nutrients that help in enhancing the general health of a person and boost the functions of various organs. The vitamins present in turmeric are vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Minerals

Turmeric (Haldi) also offers a rich content of minerals that are needed by the body to perform various functions. It contains calcium, phosphorous, iron, chromium, manganese, selenium, zinc, and potassium in good amounts.

Phytochemicals

Turmeric provides several carotenoids, carotenes, and xanthophylls. It is these ingredients in turmeric, which give this herb its bright orange, yellow, and red colors. These carotenoids are converted to vitamin A as needed by the body, which helps in boosting the functions of the immune system. They also help combat the free radicals and prevent heart diseases.

Starch and Protein

Turmeric (Haldi) also contains carbohydrates in the form of starch and proteins in moderate amounts. Though turmeric is not primarily used to fulfill the energy needs of the body, its starch and protein content definitely add to the nutritional value of this herb.

Resin

Beside the carbohydrates and proteins, the turmeric root also contains a fatty substance that is soluble in ether along with a glucoside, turpethin, which reduces pain and inflammation.

Turmeric provides some essential oils such as turmerone, p-tolymehyl, and zingiberene

Cineole and other monoterpenes

The additional phytochemicals present in turmeric (Haldi) include alpha-terpineol, Alpha-pinene, azulene, borneol, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, caryophyllene, eugenol, limonene, guaicol, linalool, p-cymene, turmerone, p-coumaric acid, vanillic acid, phellandrene, and sabinene.

Each of these constituents provides unique health benefits and also work synergistically to make the whole herb more potent and powerful than any ingredient used alone.

In addition to the phytochemicals and phyto-nutrients, turmeric also has a high ORAC score of almost 160,000, which means it is a highly potent herb, which can boost the health of a person by improving body’s own resources like the natural antioxidants, glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase. These substances help the body’s cells, tissues to function optimally, and protect them against oxidation.

Mechanism of Action of Turmeric (Haldi)

Turmeric powder, its derivatives, and the extracts obtained from its rhizomes have been found to be highly bioactive. The mechanisms of action of the constituents of turmeric are explained below:

Turmeric as an antioxidant

Inflammation and oxidative stress are the major factors that lead to the development of several acute and chronic diseases such as myocardial infarction, renal failure, stroke, depression, vasculitis, hepatitis, and arthritis. These disorders are marked by a low concentration of antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase, glutathione, zinc, and vitamin E in the plasma. These antioxidants protect the body’s normal cells against the reactive oxygen species, which have the potential to damage the fatty acids, proteins, and DNA.

The lower level of antioxidants results in a higher-level of reactive oxygen species due to which there is a deficiency of glucose and oxygen in the healthy cells resulting in oxidative stress.

This form of oxidative damage can be detected through the increased levels of malondialdehyde, which is a by-product of the damage to the fatty acids in cell membranes, and a higher concentration of a marker of DNA damage, 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine.

Turmeric can help in preventing this chain of reaction with its strong antioxidant action. The antioxidant property of turmeric was demonstrated in research through a reduction in the levels of malondialdehyde in the blood following the administration of a combination of curcumin and pepper in the patients with chronic pancreatitis.

The brain is more susceptible to the effects of oxidative stress caused by the lower levels of antioxidants and a higher rate of metabolism in the brain. Hence, the oxidative damage is more likely to cause the neurodegenerative disorders like depression. Curcumin, by acting as an antioxidant, helps in reducing oxidative damage to the brain cells thereby preventing depression and other neurodegenerative disorders. It works by increasing the level of antioxidants such as glutathione and repairing the damaged induced by the free radicals. Similarly, turmeric also provides protection to the cells and tissues of other organs and prevents the disorders arising out of oxidative stress.

Turmeric as an anti-inflammatory agent

Inflammatory mediators like T-cells and monocytes play a major role in the development and progression of several diseases. Neutrophils and similar pro-inflammatory molecules that are activated via inflammatory pathways can result in a higher production of nitric acid leading to nitrosative stress.

Nitric oxide is produced in the inflammatory cells by an enzyme called intracellular nitric oxide synthase. Nitric oxide forms reactive oxygen species, which damage the proteins and DNA of the normal cells.

Several laboratory animal studies have shown that curcumin in turmeric possesses an ability to block the action of NF-kB (Nuclear factor-kappa B) and the subsequent activation of nitric oxide synthase and COX-2.

NF-kB is a protein, which binds to the DNA and boosts the expression of pro-inflammatory genes like nitric oxide synthase and COX-2 gene. It also plays an important role in the up-regulation of cytokines that trigger the development of inflammatory diseases.

Curcumin also inhibits the inflammatory neutrophils and other mediators. Turmeric, thus, helps to block the effect of inflammation-triggering substances and prevents damage to the healthy organs thereby reducing the risk of a range of diseases.

Curcumin increases BDNF levels

Curcumin has the ability to increase the levels of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF in the brain. BDNF is particularly present is abundance in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that controls the functions related to emotions, and navigation.

BDNF is a protein that helps in regulating the growth of nerve cells. It also controls several brain functions including learning, moods, and long-term memory. The presence of BDNF protein has also been detected in the parts of the brain that control drinking, eating, and body weight, which signifies its importance in regulating these activities thus maintaining the food intake and weight of a person.

A reduced level of BDNF has been linked with the disorders affecting the brain that cause loss of memory, depression, poor learning, cognitive decline, and even weight gain.

Curcumin exhibits a strong anti-anxiety and antidepressant activity through the inhibition of oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, and by boosting the levels of BDNF. The higher levels of BDNF result in the promotion of nerve cell regeneration in the hippocampus.

It also prevents the reduction in the ratio of pCREB or phosphorylated cAMP, response element-binding protein to the levels of CREB in the hippocampus. CREB is a gene, which becomes active and regulates the expression of BDNF protein upon phosphorylation.

Turmeric, thus, prevents the decline in the levels of BDNF in the brain that results in an improvement in the long-term memory, motor functions, functions of HPA axis, and new nerve cell generation.

These actions of turmeric help to prevent the disorders that arise due to the low levels of BDNF such as depression, Alzheimer’s’ disease, dementia, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic disorders, and phobia.

Curcumin modulates neurotransmission

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the nervous system that transmit signals between the nerve cells. An imbalance in the levels of neurotransmitters is often the cause of several psychological disorders including depression, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders. The neurotransmitters that play an important role in the regulation of the nervous system functions are dopamine, norepinephrine, and Serotonin.

Dopamine plays a role in managing movements while serotonin regulates moods, sleep, and appetite. Norepinephrine triggers anxiety and increases the blood pressure by narrowing the blood vessels. Interference in the production and transmission of these neurotransmitters can result in mood disturbances, anxiety, and loss of energy and motor functions such as speed, coordination, and strength.

Antidepressant medications help to relieve these symptoms by regulating the levels of neurotransmitters in the spaces between the neurons called synapses.

Curcumin works in a similar way and helps to control these conditions by modulating the level of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It also inhibits monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that degrades the neurotransmitters.

During a study, the behavioral, neuroendocrine, and neurochemical effects of an ethanolic extract from turmeric were assessed in male mice using forced swimming test.

It was found that the oral administration of the extract reduced the duration of immobility in the mice by increasing the concentration of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine.

In another study, it was found that the oral administration of curcumin at a lower dose results in the inhibition of the action of Monoamine Oxidase-A in the brain of the mice while the Monoamine Oxidase-B activity was blocked following an administration of higher doses of the extract.

These studies indicate that turmeric can help in the treatment of psychological disorders with its ability to regulate the levels of neurotransmitters. The beneficial effect of this property is enhanced by its action to block Monoamine oxidase-A and -B.

Produces a steroid-like action

Research has indicated that the phenolic compounds like curcumin can initiate an action that is similar to the corticosteroids produced in the body. Turmeric destroys NF-κB, which is also the target of corticosteroids in their action aimed to control inflammation. (1)

Another important inflammatory molecule, cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2), is also controlled by turmeric just like steroids. Research performed on turmeric showed that it directly scavenges the oxidants in the arthritic and inflamed tissues. The major inflammatory pathways in the cells affected by diseases like cancers, arthritis, and asthma include the ones regulated by a signaling factor called NF-κB.

Several studies have concluded that both these factors, NF- κB and COX2, are analogously controlled by turmeric by producing the effects similar to those of steroids. The steroid-like anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions of turmeric can be beneficial in the management of uveitis, a condition caused by the inflammation of the uvea in the eyes. The condition is triggered due to an infection or immunological imbalance. It can also result in permanent damage to the eye.

Currently, corticosteroids are the only available treatment option for the patients with uveitis. The encouraging results of the studies proving the steroid-like action of turmeric have shown promise in the ability of this herb in healing the uveitis-affected eye.

Another comparative study focused on the use of corticosteroids and turmeric for the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has revealed that turmeric can be as effective as the steroids in managing the inflammation caused by IBD. However, turmeric does not cause the side effects that occur due to the prolonged use of steroidal medications. Hence, turmeric can be considered a safer treatment option for this disease compared to steroids. It produces a pharmacological effect analogous to the one produced by the administration of corticosteroids without the risk of serious side effects.

Benefits & Uses of Turmeric (Haldi)

Turmeric (Haldi) has been commonly used as a spice in the Bangladeshi, Indian, and Pakistani cuisine. It is used as a condiment and a healing remedy. It is also used as a dyeing agent to impart a bright yellow color to the mustard condiments. Turmeric has been traditionally used in these countries as a medicinal herb owing to its multiple health benefits. The main active ingredient of Turmeric, curcumin, is responsible for most of its medicinal properties. The chemical composition, mechanism of action, health benefits, and side effects of turmeric are discussed beneath.

Inflammatory condition affecting the digestive tract

Extensive research has shown that curcumin, a major component of turmeric, can help in the treatment and prevention of several disorders affecting the digestive tract that arise due to inflammation. Turmeric works by modulating the cell signaling pathways. It can be used in the management of inflammatory disorders affecting the colon, rectum, and the pancreas including ulcerative proctitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel disease, and tropical pancreatitis.

Turmeric also helps to relieve the symptoms of gastric disorders like peptic ulcer, and gastritis that occur due to the damage to the inner mucosal lining of the stomach due to the intake of spicy foods, and prolonged use of Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs.

Curcumin has also been shown to provide protection against the hepatic and biliary inflammatory conditions like hepatitis, cholecystitis, and cholangitis occurring due to factors like chronic arsenic exposure, viral or bacterial infections, and alcohol intoxication.

The dose-escalating studies have proved the safety of curcumin when used at a dose as high as 12 gm per day for 3 months. The anti-inflammatory activities of Curcumin emanate from its ability to modify the signaling molecules like apoptotic proteins, pro-inflammatory cytokines, cyclooxygenase-2, 5-LOX, STAT3, NF–κB, and C-reactive protein. It also produces a favorable effect on the gut by modulating the actions of prostaglandin E2, adhesion molecules, phosphorylase kinase, and triglyceride, transforming growth factor-β, ET-1, HO-1, ALT, and AST in humans. (2)

Clinical trials have indicated that turmeric can be used as a standalone remedy or in combination with other agents for the treatment of these diseases.

Inflammatory bowel diseases

The effect of turmeric in the management of inflammatory bowel disease was proved in a study on the mice that were given an inflammatory agent to induce colitis. The study revealed that curcumin in turmeric protected the colon from the inflammatory damage caused by the agent when turmeric was added to their diet five days prior to the administration of the inflammatory agent. The weight loss in the mice receiving turmeric was also less than that in the control group of mice, which indicated that turmeric improved the intestinal cell functions and had a favorable effect on the absorption of food. Even the other signs of colitis such as mucosal ulceration, the infiltration of inflammatory cells, and thickening of the intestinal wall were much reduced in the experimental group of mice.

Researchers attribute the protective effect of turmeric on the colon to the antioxidant activity of curcumin and its ability to inhibit a cellular inflammatory agent, NF kappa-B. These studies confirm the therapeutic role of turmeric in the management of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Cancer

Turmeric has been found to be useful in the management of cancer. It can be used for the prevention and treatment of several forms of cancer including colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

It helps in preventing cancer mainly through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. It protects the organs and tissues from the potential damage caused by the free radicals that are released as a by-product of various processes in the body. A free radical has an unpaired electron, it attacks the normal cells, and tissues to obtain an electron that can bind with the unpaired electron and stabilize it. However, when the healthy cells lose an electron to the free radicals, they are left with an unpaired electron and thus, become free radicals. This results in a chain of reaction that destroys the normal cells and cause changes in their molecular structures, which trigger the development of cancer. Turmeric can help in preventing this by destroying the free radicals with its antioxidant action and blocking the resultant damage to the healthy cells.

Research has also shown that curcumin is a highly pleiotropic molecule that is capable of interacting with several molecular targets involving inflammatory processes. (3)

It has the ability to counteract the inflammation-triggering chemicals in the body and thus, protect the normal cells against the damage that can result in cancer.

Laboratory experiments have also shown that curcumin can prevent the tumors from forming and slow down the spread of cancer cells to the surrounding structures.

Curcumin acts against the transcription factors, which work like a master switch for regulating the genes that trigger the initiation of tumor development. Turmeric, by modifying these transcription factors, can shut down the genes involved in the invasion and growth of breast cancer cells. It also inhibits the activation of a regulatory molecule called NF-kappa B that signals the genes to produce several inflammatory molecules including COX-2, TNF, and IL-6, which promote the growth of cancer cells. Curcumin was also found to suppress the proliferation of cancer cells and induce apoptosis (cell suicide) and cell cycle arrest in the lung cancer cells.

The chemopreventive and therapeutic properties of curcumin against pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma have been proved in a study. In another study, Curcumin in turmeric was found to reduce the number and size of precancerous lesions in the intestinal tract.

However, due to the rapid conjugation and plasma clearance of curcumin, the therapeutic usefulness of turmeric is somewhat limited. Hence, the researchers have focused their efforts on investigating the possibility of combining curcumin with other substances to increase its systemic bioavailability.

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by the deterioration of the cognitive functions together with a declining efficiency in performing daily tasks and behavioral changes.

Curcumin can work as an effective remedy for the management of Alzheimer’s disease. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and lipophilic actions help to improve the cognitive functions in the patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It has been found that the factors like oxidative stress, beta amyloid, abnormal inflammatory reactions, free radicals, and cerebral deregulation caused due to the bio-metal toxicity contribute to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin in turmeric can protect the brain cells from these factors through a range of actions like reducing the Beta-amyloid plaques, and delaying the degradation of neurons. (4)

It also acts as a metal-chelation agent and produces an anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant action that further protect the brain cells from any form of degenerative effect. The major beneficial effect of turmeric comes in the form of decreased microglia formation, which helps to improve the memory of patients and provides relief from the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Oral health

Turmeric has been found to be useful in maintaining the oral health and as a treatment option in the field of dentistry. Though various modes of treatment are available for the dental diseases, the conventional drug therapies have major disadvantages in the form of numerous side effects associated with their use. Hence, research has been conducted to find alternative treatment options that can provide effective treatment for the dental disorders without causing any side effects. This has led to the discovery of the anti-infective natural compounds that can be derived from plants like turmeric.

Turmeric is known to possess a number of medicinal properties like anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, immune-stimulant, anti-mutagenic, and antiseptic. (5)

These properties can help in managing oral and dental disorders that occur due to infections, and ulcerations. The disorders that can be treated using turmeric include oral cancer, oral thrush, aphthous ulcers, gingivitis, and tooth infections. Turmeric can be used as a mouthwash, pit and fissure sealant, as well as a subgingival irrigant.

Arthritis

Turmeric has been found to be beneficial in the management of arthritis. A study was conducted to understand the effectiveness of turmeric in comparison with the usefulness of ginger in the management of arthritis, which proved turmeric to be more effective than ginger.

Turmeric, which is rich in Curcuminoids, and ginger, which is rich in shogaols and gingerols rhizomes have been used widely as dietary spices to manage arthritis. The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of these two herbs were assessed in the rats suffering from adjuvant-induced arthritis. It was found that both these herbs significantly suppressed the severity of arthritis when administered at a dose of 200 mg per kg body weight. The mechanism of action of these herbs involved increasing the production and release of anti-inflammatory substances and reducing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. They also triggered an activation of the antioxidant defense system. However, it was also found that the anti-arthritic action of turmeric was more effective and exceeded that of ginger as well as indomethacin, a commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

The percentage of recovery from the disease was about 4.6 to 8.3% more in turmeric in comparison with ginger and 10.2% more as compared with indomethacin. (6)

The study proved the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of turmeric to be more potent than ginger and indomethacin. This marks the effectiveness of turmeric in the treatment of arthritis. It provides relief from the symptoms of arthritis such as pain, restricted mobility, stiffness in the joints, and swelling. It also slows down the progression of the disease by protecting the bones and the joint tissues from the damage caused due to free radicals and pro-inflammatory substances.

In addition, turmeric also inhibited the joint destruction by inhibiting a protein called NF-κB that has the ability to regulate the gene expression of chemicals that create an inflammatory response. Turmeric has the potential to alter the expression of hundreds of genes that can cause joint destruction and swelling and prevent the increase in the cells called osteoclasts that break down the bone.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Clinical research has substantiated that the powerful antioxidant effect of turmeric exerts a favorable effect in the patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. As a powerful antioxidant, it possesses the ability to neutralize the free radicals that can travel throughout the body and cause considerable damage to the healthy cells and cell membranes including the immune cells, joint tissues, and bones.

This activity of turmeric is important in cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis, in which free radicals are primarily responsible for the painful inflammation and damage in the joints. The combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Turmeric can provide considerable relief to the patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

In a recent study that included patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone, a commonly used Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug. The beneficial effect of turmeric was found to be comparable to the one achieved by the use of phenylbutazone. However, turmeric did not cause the side effects that are common when phenylbutazone is used for prolonged periods as necessitated by a chronic painful condition like Rheumatoid Arthritis. In addition, turmeric was found to improve the joint movements and shortened the duration of morning stiffness, while lengthening the time for which the person could walk without feeling pain. It also reduced the joint swelling and improved the longevity of joints.

Cystic Fibrosis

Curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric (haldi), can help in the management of cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a fatal condition that affects the lungs. It is characterized by the production of thick mucus, which hinders breathing and other pulmonary functions. It can cause considerable damage to the healthy lung tissues thus reducing its respiratory efficiency. The excessive production of thick mucus can increase the risk of life-threatening infections. Beside the lungs, Cystic fibrosis can also affect the pancreas, and damage its tissues with the mucus production thus interfering with the ability of the digestive tract to digest and absorb nutrients. Turmeric can correct the common expressions of the genetic defect that are responsible for the development of cystic fibrosis.

Research has indicated that cystic fibrosis occurs due to the mutation in the genes, which encode for a protein, transmembrane conductance regulator. This protein can travel to the surface of the cells and create channels for the chloride ions to leave the cell. A faulty gene can cause the protein to be abnormally shaped due to which it is unable to perform its physiological functions. As a result, there is a chloride build-up in the cells leading to an excessive mucus production.

DeltaF508 is the most common mutation that can result in the production of the abnormal protein. A study conducted on mice with a DeltaF508 defect found that turmeric could help correct this genetic defect. The mice were given curcumin in a dose based on their body weight. The administration of curcumin resulted in an improvement in the appearance and functions of the DeltaF508 protein.

In another study, curcumin has been shown to inhibit the release of calcium thus allowing the mutated transmembrane conductance regulator protein to exit the cells via calcium channels. This helps to prevent the build-up of mucus driven by the accumulation of chloride.

These studies have concluded that turmeric can be an effective remedy for the management of cystic fibrosis.

Childhood Leukemia

Research on childhood leukemia has provided evidence that eating turmeric-spiced foods can decrease the risk of childhood leukemia. The incidence of this disease has risen dramatically during the last century, especially in the children below the age of five years. The modern lifestyle and environmental factors are thought to be responsible for the development of this disease.

Some other factors responsible for the rising incidence of childhood leukemia are prenatal and postnatal exposure to radiation, environmental pollutants, benzene, and alkylating chemotherapeutic drugs. The study showed that turmeric could mitigate the effects of these risk factors.

It can inhibit the mutagenicity of the carcinogenic chemicals released during the burning of cigarette smoke and carbon-based fuels such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It can also prevent the chromosome damage induced by radiation. It prevents the formation of harmful heterocyclic nitroso, and amines compounds that enter the body when the processed foods containing nitrosamines are consumed. Turmeric can also inhibit the multiplication of leukemia cells. These properties of turmeric can help in reducing the risk of childhood leukemia.

Cardiovascular diseases

Curcumin has been found to possess cardioprotective properties. It can inhibit the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Oxidized cholesterol is largely responsible for causing damage and the buildup of plaques in the blood vessels that can lead to hypertension, cardiac failure, and heart attacks. Hence, preventing the oxidation of cholesterol can help to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis. Additionally, turmeric is a rich source of vitamin B6 that helps to prevent arise in the homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an intermediate product released during a cellular process called methylation. It has the potential to damage the blood vessel walls. The high level of homocysteine is considered a significant risk factor for heart attacks, atherosclerotic plaque buildup, and cardiac failure. Turmeric, with its high vitamin B content, can reduce the risk of these diseases by controlling the Homocysteine levels.

Turmeric powder (Haldi churna)
Turmeric powder (Haldi churna)

Turmeric (Haldi) Dosage

Turmeric (Haldi) is used in form of Turmeric powder (Haldi Churna), extract, decoction, tea etc. Here are dosage guidelines for different formulations of Turmeric.

Turmeric (Haldi) Powder

The general dosage of Turmeric (Haldi) Powder is as follows.
Children500 mg to 1500 mg *
Adults1 to 3 grams *
Maximum Possible Dosage12 grams Per Day (in divided doses)
* Twice or thrice a day preferably with black pepper and milk (but it can also be taken with water)
Best Time to Take: At least 30 minutes before food or an hour After food

Turmeric (Haldi) Extract

The general dosage of Turmeric (Haldi) Extract is as follows.
Children125 mg to 250 mg *
Adults250 to 500 mg *
Maximum Possible Dosage2 grams Per Day (in divided doses)
* Twice or thrice a day preferably with black pepper and milk (but it can also be taken with water)
Best Time to Take: At least 30 minutes before food or an hour After food

Turmeric (Haldi) Extract capsules or tablets are also available in the market. The dosage should be adjusted according to dosage given in the table. Generally, 250 to 500 mg tablets or capsules are available, which can be taken 1 to 2 tablets or capsules twice or thrice daily depending on the health condition.

Raw Turmeric (Haldi) Juice

The general dosage of Raw Turmeric (Haldi) Juiceis as follows.
Children5 to 10 ml *
Adults10 to 20 ml *
Maximum Possible Dosage40 ml Per Day (in divided doses)
* Twice a day (it can be mixed in a cup of warm water)
Best Time to Take: At least 30 minutes before food

Fresh raw Turmeric (Haldi) can be used for maximum health benefits. A pinch of black pepper or Trikatu Churna can be added for getting maximum benefits from it and enhancing its absorption in the alimentary canal.

Raw Turmeric Powder (Haldi Churna)

Many ayurvedic doctors do not prefer to boil the turmeric before making its powder. Commercially, Turmeric is boiled, then dried and ground to obtain a fine turmeric powder. This process may destroy its many important nutrients and phytochemicals, so one may not get optimum benefits from this.

Many ayurvedic doctors buy fresh and raw turmeric. They cut them in very small pieces with their outer skin and dry them under sunlight. When turmeric slices are properly dried, then these slices are ground to make raw turmeric powder (Haldi Churna). This powder is more effective than commercially available turmeric powder.

The general dosage of Raw Turmeric Powder (Haldi Churna) is as follows.
Children500 mg to 1500 mg *
Adults1 to 3 grams *
Maximum Possible Dosage12 grams Per Day (in divided doses)
* Twice or thrice a day preferably with black pepper and milk (but it can also be taken with water)
Best Time to Take: At least 30 minutes before food or an hour After food

Side Effects of Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)

Turmeric is not known to cause serious side effects. However, some patients may experience a few adverse reactions to turmeric resulting in stomach upsets, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea. Taking turmeric in a very high dose of more than 1500 mg two times per day can lead to an abnormal heart rhythm.

In rare cases, there can be an allergic reaction to turmeric, which results in breathing difficulties, skin rashes, and itching. Rare cases of anaphylaxis, hives, and contact dermatitis have also been reported. Local application of Turmeric or the ointments and lotions containing this herb may result in rashes, itching, and a burning sensation in the patients having hypersensitivity to it. There can be an increased risk of renal stones in the susceptible individuals.

Though turmeric is helpful in improving the functions of gallbladder, using it in very high amounts is associated with the aggravation of gall bladder conditions including acute cholecystitis, gallstones, and cholangitis.

Turmeric may cause gastric irritation or inflammatory reaction of the stomach when used for the management of systemic chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Since turmeric is slightly acidic in nature, it can act as a stimulant for the gastric acid secretion. Hence, people having history of hyperacidity and dyspepsia should avoid using turmeric in high doses.

Turmeric can inhibit the platelet aggregation and thus, increase the risk of bleeding. It can also interfere with the production of clotting factors in the liver. Hence, it must be avoided by the patients suffering from a clotting disorder.

A high intake of turmeric is associated with liver dysfunctions that present with jaundice and indigestion. Some research studies in animals have confirmed the toxic effect of turmeric on the hepatocytes. However, no human study has been conducted to know the effect of Turmeric on the liver in humans. Hence, it is advisable to avoid taking large doses of turmeric especially by the patients suffering from a liver disorder.

Turmeric can interfere with the action of anti-coagulant medications like aspirin, warfarin, and clopidogrel. It can also alter the action of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is known to reduce the blood sugar levels and lead to a state of severe hypoglycemia in the dietetic patients who are using hypoglycemic medications. Hence, patients taking these medications should exercise caution while using Turmeric.

Women, who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, should avoid turmeric as it can act as a uterine stimulant and increase the activity of the uterine smooth muscle cells resulting in premature uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding, and miscarriage.

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