Turmeric has received worldwide attention for its multiple health benefits. It is suggested that turmeric can help in the management of inflammatory conditions, accelerates wound healing or relieves muscle soreness (2). The following article checks what the latest science says about the effect of turmeric on skin conditions and if turmeric can really live up to its promises.
What is turmeric?
The turmeric plant, a herb belonging to the ginger family, and is extensively cultivated in south and southeast tropical Asia. The most active component of turmeric is curcumin, which makes up 2–5% of the spice.
What does the science say?
Curcumin has been shown to be effective against different skin diseases including eczema, psoriasis, scleroderma, and skin carcinogenesis.
Numerous scientific reports suggest that curcumin accelerates wound healing. In addition, curcumin also prevents the formation of scars and plays a role in muscle regeneration following trauma (1). However, further well-controlled clinical trials are required to confirm these observations.
Inflammation has been identified in the development of many chronic diseases like psoriasis, arthritis, irritable bowel disease, and diabetes (4). The body´s cells have different mediators of inflammation and curcumin has been shown to block these mediators.
For example, people with psoriasis tend to have higher activity levels of PhK, a protein kinase. Therefore, agents with the potential to inhibit PhK activity can be useful for the treatment of psoriasis. Different studies indicate that curcumin suppresses PhK activity and thereby stops the psoriatic activity of PhK (4,5,6).
In general, research in the last few years has indicated that many diseases are caused by the dysregulation of multiple cell signalling pathways. Curcumin has been found to modulate multiple targets, which may provide the basis for its effectiveness in so many different diseases (1).
However, because of the complex nature of the diseases, the underlying mechanism in many cases remains unclear. Further research is required to gain a deeper understanding of curcumin’s therapeutic potential.
Tips on how to use Turmeric
Eating curcumin by itself does not lead to the associated health benefits due to its poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid elimination. Piperine is the major active component of black pepper and, when combined with curcumin, has been shown to increase the degree of absorption by 2000% (3).
Remember therefore to always eat turmeric together with black pepper to enhance the uptake of curcumin. For example, add a sprinkle of black pepper to a teaspoon of turmeric powder and mix it into drinks, smoothies or cooking dishes.
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