Do you know what Turmeric can do for you?
I bet you’ve been seeing turmeric supplements popping up all over the place for the past few years. Did you know turmeric has been in use at the very least for 2000 years, if not much, much longer? As an herbalist, I’m always fascinated watching ancient remedies hit the mainstream… “The Dr. Oz Effect,” I call it.
Once it appears on a popular talk show and people start taking interest, all sorts of supplement companies jump on the bandwagon to get their product out to market faster and sell as much as possible before the fad passes.
The downside of this, no surprise, is usually poor quality testing, taking a one-size-fits-all approach to dosing, and lack of education of whether the supplement is even appropriate for the person at all.
It’s not all bad, though. It does get people interested in the beauty of plant medicine. Most every patient who walks into my clinic is hoping to avoid taking prescription medications and having to deal with side effects.
I much prefer working with supplements that aim to restore function and not merely suppress symptoms.
What is Turmeric?
While different parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine, turmeric most often refers to the rhizome of the plant. It’s related to the ginger family and at the grocery store, you might mistake it for ginger except for the golden orange color inside. Once grated, it’s a beautiful yellow gold. It gives curry its famous yellow color.
What we really care about in herbal medicine is the curcumin that can be extracted from the turmeric plant – this is one of the main ingredients to benefit health. You will also see reference to “curcuminoids” – these are the active compounds in turmeric that “do stuff.” (we’ll talk about the stuff in a minute.)
Why do I need a supplement? Can’t I just cook with turmeric spice?
Here’s the problem: the healthy active compounds within the turmeric spice are only about 1 to 3% bioavailable – this means that only 3% of the good stuff is usable by your body. That’s pretty low. You’d have to eat oodles of it to get anything close to a proper dose.
Food IS medicine in my eyes, so I give you my blessing to cook with it. It’s still good for your body. I love a good curry. And there are excellent benefits to the “golden milk/tea” recipes, though I’ll admit it hasn’t been my most favorite flavor, outside of curry.
But if you want to effect health changes in your body, it’s worth considering adding a good turmeric supplement. (Please don’t buy crappy supplements – they are not worth your money and your body has to work harder to process out the junk in them.)
In the clinic I used two brands – MediHerb and doTERRA. Both are excellent quality, but you have to be a patient of mine to be able to order the MediHerb brand, so today I’m just going to discuss doTERRA’s supplement which anyone can buy from my shop site.
What does turmeric do*?
If you do a pubmed.gov search on turmeric or curcumin, you will see 5,000 and 13,000 links, respectively. While, no, I did not click on each link and evaluate them for pros & cons, what it does reveal is this is a widely researched plant with a variety of uses.
Three of the most known benefits are:
Supports healthy inflammation.
When people see the word anti-inflammatory, they sometimes misunderstand thinking that all inflammation is bad. It’s not. We NEED a good, balanced inflammatory response. And then when the mini-crisis is over, we need the inflammatory response to calm back down.
A good example where turmeric shines: think of cold, achy joints that feel worse in damp weather. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we call this “wind-damp bi.” Turmeric is a warming spice that helps move blood and qi (energy), so think of it as improving circulation throughout the muscles and joints.
Supports the nerves which improves mood and cognition.
People most often think of turmeric for the effect on their discomfort, but you might not realize that it has mood-enhancing benefits too.
Turmeric has been shown to stimulate stomach secretions, improve the quality and flow of bile, and reduce gas. In TCM, we talk of “food stagnation”. Most everyone knows that feeling – think varying degrees of “Thanksgiving dinner.” Turmeric has the effect of driving energy in a downward direction (literally), so in the GI tract, that would be helping to move food and waste through the system.
In Chinese herbal medicine, turmeric is described as acrid, bitter, and warm. Flavors have a medicinal value in TCM. You probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that our culture uses an overabundance of sweet flavor. Bitter balances sweet. Bitter heals symptoms that come from over-sweet flavors.
Just about any search, even on western medicine sites like WebMD and Mayo Clinic, list other possible uses for turmeric, and the research will continue to reveal more.
Why I love doTERRA’s Dual Chamber Turmeric Capsule
Let’s go back to that 3% bioavailability. That’s a problem for a supplement. And that’s why you will almost always see turmeric combined with something else – to make it more bioavailable.
A common one is to combine turmeric with black pepper, not a bad idea, but not the best one. MediHerb combines turmeric with fenugreek for bioavailability, plus some pretty cool benefits to the fenugreek itself, which we won’t go into here for sake of time.
doTERRA has created a powerhouse by combining the herbal extract with turmeric essential oil. The main compounds in the essential oil are turmerone and ar-turmerone, which have benefits on their own, but have the most significant enhancement to the bioavailability of the turmeric extract. (1) Meaning, your body can make the best use of both when they are combined together.
Plus, it comes in a really cool capsule – the dual chamber keeps the oil separated from the extract so that it keeps the compounds intact until your body digests it.
Cautions: Who should not take turmeric?
Turmeric is a pretty safe supplement, especially at the dose provided in doTERRA’s version – one capsule has 150mg of turmeric extract. When starting a new supplement, unless it says otherwise, it’s always a good idea to take it with a little food until you know how your body responds.
Here are a few cautions:
(p.s. you’ll notice most of the cautions are because of improved bodily functions, so the supplement itself is a good thing, but you may need to get your issue resolved first or talk to your doctor about your prescription doses before taking turmeric.)
Active stomach ulcers and active GERD: turmeric has the positive effect of increasing healthy gastric secretions but if you have an open stomach ulcer it may cause discomfort until that heals. There is research that shows turmeric helps to maintain healthy tissues (2), but there are better supplements to improve the stomach lining while you’re healing.
Anticoagulants: turmeric may possibly have a mild effect on circulation, so check with your doctor if you are on anticoagulant medication. Also, it would be a good idea to pause turmeric a few days before any surgeries. And for women, depending on how your cycle is, the blood circulation effect could possibly increase your flow.
Gallstones: turmeric has been shown to improve the quality and flow of bile, so if you have gallstones or bile duct blockage, you need to resolve that first so a stone doesn’t get stuck.
Pregnancy: turmeric may stimulate uterine contractions, so you may want to avoid it until after birth. However, a little cooking spice in your meals would most likely be fine.
Blood sugar: turmeric has the potential to improve blood sugar metabolism, so if you are on medications to lower your blood sugar, make sure you are checking your numbers and talk to your doctor so that they don’t go too low.
And as always, you know your body best, so use good judgment when taking a new supplement.
Where to buy doTERRA Dual Chamber Turmeric Capsules
Either link below will ship directly to your house, so you don’t need to arrange coming in to the clinic to get your supplement. Because you can get the same discounted price that I can, I don’t usually keep much in stock in the clinic where I would have to charge retail prices.
If you currently have a wholesale membership with doTERRA, simply log into your account to order. For all others:
Click here for retail purchase (no membership required)
Click here to save 25% with a one-year wholesale membership (includes the first-year membership fee)
For those who have some of the health conditions listed above who might not yet be ready for turmeric, let’s start working on those issues now. Click Book Now to make either an acupuncture or an herbal appointment with me.
* The statements in this post have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links this post. See my disclaimer.
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