More about turmeric as a plant and how to take it
Turmeric as a plant
Turmeric is a perennial plant (lives for more than two years) which is part of the ginger family and can grow five to six feet in height. Turmeric is commonly found in the tropical parts of Southern Asia. The plant has trumpet-shaped flowers that are a dull-yellow colour. The roots of a turmeric plant are underground bulbs that grow horizontally, these are known as rhizomes that produce new roots and stems for new plants. Turmeric is a bitter yet fragrant spice with a sharp taste. The majority of turmeric is grown in India and used as a prominent ingredient in curry.
Parts of turmeric used
The roots, as well as the bulbs and rhizomes, are used in food and medicine. These are normally boiled and then dried, the turmeric then turns into the yellow powder.
What forms is turmeric available in?
Turmeric may be available for medicinal purposes in the below forms:
- Cut root – This is fresh turmeric that will still have some moisture in it.
- Powdered root – This is the most common form of turmeric used as a spice for curries and other foods.
- Capsules containing turmeric powder (standardised powder) – This refers to supplements of turmeric that are made by extracting curcumin from the turmeric root and concentrating this into standardised powders which are then sold as turmeric supplements.
- Tincture – A solution of turmeric in an alcoholic solvent, the ratio for a tincture is usually one-part turmeric to three parts alcohol or glycerine.
- Fluid extract – This form of turmeric is a more concentrated form of the herb than that of a tincture. A fluid extract is made through combining one part turmeric with one-part fluid, this fluid is typically alcohol.
Bromelain, a protein extract that comes from the stems of pineapples, aids in increasing absorption and promoting the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, therefore, it is often combined with turmeric.
How much turmeric (curcumin) should you take?
**Before taking turmeric (curcumin) based supplements or products, always consult a medical doctor.
The use of turmeric supplements for health reasons not pertaining to a certain condition in children have not been studied, therefore, there is not a specific recommendation for usage.
The below doses are the recommended amount for adults wanting to take turmeric for overall health and wellness reasons:
- Cut root = 1.5 - 3 grams a day
- Powdered root = 1 - 3 grams a day
- Standardised powder (curcumin) = 400 – 600 milligrams a day
- Fluid extract with a ratio of 1:1 = 30 - 90 drops daily
- Tincture with a ratio of 1:2 = 15 – 30 drops, 4 times daily
How much turmeric should I take for specific medicinal purposes?
- High cholesterol – Children who are younger than 15 years old should take two doses of 1.4 grams per day for a period of three months.
**Please note that the use of turmeric has only been explored for a few conditions in terms of safety, these are mentioned below. Some conditions may not be included in this list as the safety of the substance is not guaranteed in these cases as more evidence is needed.
- High cholesterol = Some experts recommend that 1.4 grams of turmeric extract should be divided into two separate doses taken every day for a period of three months.
- Itching (pruritus) = If you suffer from pruritus then you should take 1500 milligrams of turmeric in three divided doses daily for a period of eight weeks. Some alternative health practitioners suggest swallowing black peppercorns whole with these supplements to aid in digestion.
- Osteoarthritis = Experts may suggest that 500 milligrams of a specified formulation/supplement of curcumin should be used twice daily.