Does turmeric’s reputation translate into real health benefits?

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While Kamal Patel was probing through the reams of user data on examine.com – a website that calls itself “the internet’s largest database of nutrition and supplement research” – before a planned revamp later this year, he discovered that the most-searched-for supplement on the website was curcumin, a distinctive yellow-orange chemical that is extracted from the rhizomes of turmeric, a tall plant in the ginger family, native to Asia.

Patel concluded that this was probably because of curcumin’s purported anti-inflammatory properties. “An astounding number of people experience inflammation or have inflammation-related health conditions, and curcumin and fish oil are two of the most researched supplements that can sometimes help,” he says.

This consumer interest in curcumin hasn’t gone unnoticed by the “wellness” industry. Besides its use in pill supplements, curcumin is increasingly being incorporated into cosmetic products that claim to help treat acne and eczema, prevent dry skin, and even slow down the aging process. Some reports predict that the global curcumin market size could reach $191m (£156m) by 2028.

The ground rhizomes of the turmeric plant are commonly found in curry powder, but turmeric has also been part of Ayurvedic medicine – a traditional Indian system of treatment – for centuries, and at some point in the last decade turmeric worked its way out of the spice cupboard and took its place at the forefront of the western wellness industry. “As part of the general concept of Ayurvedic medicine and wellness, it’s increased in popularity in lockstep with yoga and meditation,” says Patel.


https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/0a0932c341c4475066fc6b8398877d2e188ba3de/1_0_4997_3000/master/4997.jpg?width=1020&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=8dcb492492ceed15d01e9e873281458aSuperman logo formed out of turmeric powder Photograph: P Partridge/GNM Imaging



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