Turmeric supplements are a type of dietary supplement that contain the spice turmeric, or an extract of one of its compounds. Turmeric is a yellow spice that comes from a plant, Curcuma longa, native to India. In culinary use, it is probably best known for giving its yellow color to different preparations of curry sauce. The spice has been investigated for its possible roles in treating or preventing a number of health conditions including cancer, psoriasis, arthritis, and a number of other conditions. Turmeric supplements are usually found in the form of pills of different dosages.
Sometimes turmeric supplements contain standardized extracts of curcumin in varying amounts. Curcumin, which gives turmeric its golden yellow color, is thought to be responsible for most of the benefits of turmeric. Scientific research has suggested that curcumin has cancer-preventive properties in animal and test tube studies, slowing the growth and metastasis, or spread, of cancer. This may be because curcumin acts as an antioxidant in the body, prevents deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage, or helps to repair DNA damage. The ability of curcumin to fight cancer has led to much of the scientific attention it has drawn.
Turmeric supplements may also be useful in controlling inflammation in the body. This could make it useful for alleviating inflammatory conditions like arthritis and psoriasis, among others. Some anecdotal evidence suggests relief from joint pain caused by arthritis, as well as the itching and flaking skin caused by psoriasis.
The curcumin in turmeric supplements may have a number of other therapeutic effects. As it seems to keep blood platelets from sticking together, which can cause blood clots, it may improve circulation and protect against hardening of the arteries. It is also being studied for gastrointestinal conditions including Chrohn's disease, ulcers, and indigestion. It has also shown anti-histamine properties, which might be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effect. It is also being tested as treatment for various conditions including Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.
Turmeric comes from the rhizome, or root-like structure, of the curcuma longa plant. The plant is related to ginger. In addition to its culinary use, turmeric has a history of traditional medicinal use in India.
As turmeric has a long history of regular and widespread use in cooking without harmful effects, moderate use of these supplements seems likely to be safe. Turmeric supplements may have anti-blood clotting effects, so people using blood thinners should ask a doctor about using them. Simply adding turmeric to more dishes may provide some of the possible benefits of turmeric supplements.