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1. Improved Memory
For years, it’s been suggested that eating lots of turmeric is a reason why seniors in India have much lower rates of Alzheimer’s than Americans. Now, a study at the University of California Los Angeles may help to explain the link. Among 40 people ages 50–90, those who took a curcumin supplement daily improved their memory, according to standard tests, by 28 percent after 18 months.
Related: 7 Ways to Improve Your Brain Health
2. A Stronger Heart
A review of studies with a total of 649 patients, published in Nutrition Journal, found that both turmeric and curcumin supplements could enhance heart health by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowering triglycerides among people at risk for heart disease. Levels of “good” HDL cholesterol did not change. In earlier animal research, curcumin somewhat reversed enlarged hearts, reduced scar tissue, and improved heart function.
3. Healthier Skin
Treating burns and scalds with a topical curcumin gel enhanced healing, reduced pain and inflammation, and resulted in less or no scarring, in a study at the David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles. In animal research, both topical and oral curcumin shows a protective effect against the most common form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma. Many skincare products contain turmeric or curcumin to treat blemishes and soothe irritation. The herb is also taken as a therapy for eczema and psoriasis by natural practitioners.
If you have psoriasis, eczema, or a similar type of skin condition, consider taking a turmeric supplement to reduce flare-ups.
4. Better Digestion
Turmeric is a traditional remedy for indigestion, and studies have found it can help heal or prevent digestive disorders. British researchers found that a turmeric extract, taken daily for eight weeks, reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. In Japan, adding curcumin to prescription medications for ulcerative colitis improved results. Adding turmeric to food can also reduce risk for bacterial stomach infections.
5. Less Dry Eye
A review of animal, lab, and human research, published in the journal Planta Medica, found that taking curcumin supplements for a few weeks can help relieve discomfort from dry eye and other eye conditions, such as allergic conjunctivitis, anterior uveitis, glaucoma, maculopathy, and ischemic and diabetic retinopathy. Researchers found that extracts designed to improve absorption, such as BCM-95 and Meriva, were some effective forms of curcumin supplements.
6. Seasonal Allergy Relief
A study of 241 people with seasonal allergies, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, found that curcumin significantly reduced symptoms, when compared to a placebo. Taken daily for two months, the supplement reduced sneezing, mucus, and nasal congestion, and improved breathing.
7. Healthier Arteries
With age, the ability of arteries to dilate deteriorates, increasing the odds of high blood pressure. A Japanese study of post-menopausal women, published in Nutrition Research, found that taking a daily curcumin supplement for eight weeks was as effective as doing aerobic exercise, in terms of improving dilation of arteries.
8. Less Diabetes
A study published in Diabetes Care found that curcumin supplements, taken daily for nine months, effectively prevented diabetes from developing among people who were already at high risk for the disease. In a group of 240 people diagnosed with prediabetes, none of those taking curcumin developed diabetes, compared to 16 percent of those taking a placebo. Curcumin reduced inflammation and improved the body’s ability to use insulin, which improves levels of blood sugar and keeps diabetes at bay.
9. Better Liver Function
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is linked to excess body fat and develops among 50–90 percent of those who are obese. A study of 87 people with the disease, published in Drug Research, found that liver health improved for 75 percent of those who took daily curcumin supplements for eight weeks. Among those taking a placebo, improvement was seen in five percent.
10. Arthritis Pain Relief
Studies with nearly 800 people have found that curcumin relieves pain from osteoarthritis, sometimes just as well as ibuprofen. And those with rheumatoid arthritis can also benefit. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that taking a curcumin supplement for three months reduced pain, inflammation, and medical markers of rheumatoid arthritis.