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Tumeric: The Golden Spice. By Our Student Pharmacist, Ruba Lahoud.


Most people are familiar with turmeric for its unique flavor and its presence in Indian cuisine. Turmeric is a spice native to Southeast Asia. It has been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.

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Health Benefits:

Curcumin, one of turmeric’s most active components, makes up to 3-5% of the spice. As a polyphenol, curcumin has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It has the ability to stabilize free radicals, which can damage the body’s cells. Additionally, curcumin can help support brain health and delay cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin also seems to have anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic effects, possibly through down-regulation of inflammatory cytokines.

It has been demonstrated in an animal study that curcumin is able to significantly lower triglycerides and free fatty acids. This is a promising result, indicating curcumin’s potential for treating obesity and associated diseases. In other animal studies, curcumin showed a chemopreventive effect in areas such as the colon, stomach, and esophagus.

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How to take turmeric?

Despite the health benefits that can be obtained from turmeric, some people may be unfamiliar on how to incorporate it into their cooking. Easy ways to use it is by adding it to tea or a smoothie for vibrant color or by cooking it into different dishes such as egg dishes, roasting veggies, or curries.

Additionally, turmeric comes in a capsule form, fluid extract or as a tincture. According to the University of Maryland’s Medical Center, the recommended dose for adults is as follows:

Cut root

1.5-3 g/day

Dried, powdered root

1-3 g/day

Fluid Extract

30-90 drops/day


15-30 drops, 4 times/day

What are some downfalls using turmeric?

One thing to keep in mind is that turmeric is a fat-soluble spice. Research has shown that around only 1% is absorbed through the digestive system. To address this concern, a number of methods have been used to help increase turmeric’s bioavailability (ability to reach the bloodstream):

  • Adding black pepper: Studies have found that piperine, a major component in black pepper, may increase the bioavailability.
  • Consume with fats.
  • Heat it up: According to one study, boiling turmeric for 10 minutes will increase solubility, which could help elevate absorption.
  • Turmeric Oral Spray – Pioneering Encapsulation Technology (Cyclocurmin): it is a process used by extracting the three active curcuminoids and then encapsulating them in a naturally derived starch known as cyclodextrin.

turmeric picture 3

What are the precautions when taking this product?

  • Always check with your doctor before you use a natural product. Some products may not mix well with drugs or other natural products.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor that you take this product if you are scheduled for surgery or tests.
  • Do not use this product if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Take extra care if you are taking drugs to thin your blood such as Warfarin, Lovenox. Taking turmeric with these medications may increase your risk of bleeding.



  1. de Jager P. Health Benefits of Turmeric. Massage Magazine [serial online]. May 2012;(192):80. Available from: SPORTDiscus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 29, 2012.
  2. Gomez-Pinilla F, Nguyen T. Natural mood foods: The actions of polyphenols against psychiatric and cognitive disorders. Nutritional Neuroscience [serial online]. May 2012;15(3):127-133. Available from: SPORTDiscus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 29, 2012.
  3. Alappat L, Awad A. Curcumin and obesity: evidence and mechanisms. Nutrition Reviews [serial online]. December 2010;68(12):729-738. Available from: SPORTDiscus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 29, 2012.
  4. Singletary K. Turmeric: An overview of potential health benefits. Nutrition Today. 2010 Sep 1;45(5):216-25. [Cited 26 June 2019]. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/Abstract/2010/09000/Turmeric__An_Overview_of_Potential_Health_Benefits .8.aspx
  5. Zeng X, et al. Selective reduction in the expression of UGTs and SULTs, a novel mechanism by which piperine enhances the bioavailability of curcumin in rat. Biopharm Drug Dispos. 2017 Jan;38(1):3-19. doi: 10.1002/bdd.2049. Epub 2017 Jan 19. PMID: 27882569.
  6. Kurien BT, Scofield RH. Heat-solubilized curcumin should be considered in clinical trials for increasing bioavailability. Clin Cancer Res. 2009;15(2):747. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-1957

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