Turmeric, also known as the golden spice, is popular in Asian cuisine and has been a part of traditional Indian medicine — or Ayurveda — for thousands of years.
Most of turmeric’s health properties can be attributed to curcumin, a compound that has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Recent studies indicate that turmeric may play a role in weight loss.
However, you may wonder whether it’s effective — and how much you would have to take to see results.
This article explains whether turmeric aids weight loss.
Turmeric and weight loss
Recent research has examined turmeric’s role in weight loss.
Test-tube studies suggest that curcumin may suppress particular inflammatory markers that play a role in obesity. These markers are typically elevated in people with excess weight or obesity.
Animal studies indicate that this compound may promote weight loss, reduce fat tissue growth, curb weight regain, and enhance your sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
What’s more, a 30-day study in 44 people who were previously unable to lose weight found that supplementing twice a day with 800 mg of curcumin and 8 mg of piperine led to significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist and hip circumference.
Piperine is a compound in black pepper that may boost curcumin absorption by up to 2,000%.
Furthermore, a review of 21 studies in over 1,600 people linked curcumin intake to reduced weight, BMI, and waist circumference. It also noted increased levels of adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate your metabolism.
While current research is promising, more human studies are needed before turmeric can be recommended for weight loss.
Summary: Turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity — mostly related to its compound curcumin — may play a role in weight loss. All the same, further human research is necessary.
Turmeric safety and adverse effects
In general, turmeric and curcumin are considered safe.
Short-term research demonstrates that taking up to 8 grams of curcumin per day poses a little health risk, though long-term studies are needed.
Nonetheless, some people who take large doses of this compound may experience adverse effects, such as allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation, skin rash, or diarrhea.
Also, those with the following conditions should avoid turmeric supplements:
- Bleeding disorders. Turmeric may hinder blood clotting, which may cause issues in people with bleeding disorders.
- Diabetes. These supplements may interact with diabetes medications and cause blood sugar levels to fall too low.
- Iron deficiency. Turmeric may hinder iron absorption.
- Kidney stones. This spice is high in oxalates, which are compounds that may bind to calcium and contribute to kidney stone formation.
Note that there’s insufficient evidence regarding the safety of these supplements among pregnant or breastfeeding women. Therefore, they should avoid them.
Moreover, some turmeric products may contain filler ingredients not revealed on the label, so it’s best to choose a supplement that has been certified by a third party, such as NSF International or Informed Choice.
Curcumin may also interact with many medications, including anticoagulants, antibiotics, cardiovascular drugs, antihistamines, and chemotherapy drugs.
Consult your healthcare provider to determine whether turmeric or curcumin supplements are right for you.
Summary: Turmeric and curcumin are widely considered safe, but large doses may have adverse effects. Certain populations should avoid these supplements.
How to use turmeric
Turmeric comes in several forms, though the easiest way to use it is as a cooking spice.
Suggested read: Does too much turmeric have side effects?
It’s also enjoyed in beverages like turmeric ginger tea and golden milk, which is made by heating milk, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and cinnamon powder.
In Indian cuisine, turmeric is commonly consumed in tea with black pepper and other ingredients like honey, ginger, olive oil, and coconut oil.
That said, most human studies suggest that health benefits are only seen at higher doses, such as those found in turmeric extracts or curcumin supplements.
That’s because turmeric is used in small amounts as a spice. Moreover, the spice contains a mere 2–8% curcumin — whereas extracts pack up to 95% curcumin.
You may want to choose a supplement that includes black pepper, as its compounds significantly improve curcumin absorption.
Although there are no official dosage guidelines for these supplements, most research suggests that 500–2,000 mg of turmeric extract per day is sufficient to see potential benefits.
However, you should avoid taking high doses of turmeric for longer than 2–3 months at a time, as long-term safety research is unavailable.
While you shouldn’t expect turmeric to aid weight loss, this powerful herb has numerous other benefits, such as lowering your risk of brain conditions and heart disease.
Remember to inform your healthcare provider of any supplements you’re taking, including turmeric and curcumin.
Summary: Turmeric is a versatile spice and can be used in cooking or taken as a supplement. Though its effects on weight loss need to be studied further, it may provide numerous other benefits.
Turmeric is a popular spice associated with many benefits, including heart and brain health.
While it holds promise for weight loss, more extensive human studies are needed before it can be recommended for this purpose.
Turmeric and its active compound curcumin are widely recognized as safe, but you should consult a health professional if you have any concerns.
Suggested read: Turmeric and ginger: Combined benefits and uses