Does Turmeric Help With Weight Loss?

Turmeric is a spice derived from the root of the turmeric plant, a relative of ginger root. Turmeric is native to the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia.

Historically, turmeric has been widely used in traditional Indian (Ayurveda) and Chinese cuisine and medicine, including for treating skin, respiratory, joint, and digestive disorders.

Turmeric is sometimes called “Indian saffron” because of its vibrant yellow hue, which comes from curcumin. Curcumin is a curcuminoid and most of the healing properties of turmeric are attributed to its curcuminoid content.¹

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Turmeric and weight loss

In recent years, turmeric has gained attention in Western cultures for its anti-inflammatory properties and effects on weight loss.

Anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric

There is a well-established link between obesity and chronic inflammation. Evidence suggests that inflammation is both a cause and a consequence of obesity. Studies have demonstrated that there is a positive feedback loop between local inflammation in fatty tissue and altered immune response in patients with obesity.²

Curcumin, the compound present in turmeric, has known anti-inflammatory properties. In vitro (test tube) studies have proposed a mechanism for how turmeric may contribute to weight loss through its anti-inflammatory actions.³

Animal studies have also shown that curcumin effectively lowers both body fat and inflammation resulting from a high-fat diet.⁴

Further, a recent meta-analysis of turmeric has shown that it has anti-inflammatory effects in humans.⁵

Protection against weight regain

Weight regain and insulin resistance commonly occur soon after you stop a diet or exercise program. This is why it’s so easy to put weight back on again after losing it.

A study on rodents looked at whether curcumin supplementation could prevent subjects from gaining weight. Researchers found that curcumin helped protect against weight regain, and it supported sustained metabolic control after a period of successful weight loss through diet and exercise.⁶

Effects on obesity

Some studies have evaluated the effects of curcumin on obesity in humans. One study randomly assigned 44 participants to either take curcumin or a placebo.

Compared with the participants who took a placebo, participants who consumed curcumin experienced a significant decrease in body weight, body fat, waistline and hip circumference, and BMI.

Researchers concluded that curcumin is well-tolerated and promotes weight management in overweight people.⁷ While the results of these studies are promising, further studies are required.

How to take turmeric for weight loss

Supplements

Turmeric only contains about 2-8% curcumin, which is what produces the anti-inflammatory effects, so consuming turmeric alone is unlikely to have any beneficial effects on weight loss.

Although turmeric makes for a tasty and colorful addition to many dishes, if you want to reap any weight loss benefits, it is better to take it in the form of a more concentrated supplement.

Combine it with piperine

Another factor to be aware of is that curcumin has very low bioavailability, meaning it is not well-absorbed by the body when ingested. One way to increase the absorption of curcumin is to combine it with piperine.

Piperine is an alkaloid commonly found in black pepper. When ingested along with curcumin, it increases curcumin absorption by up to 2000%.⁸

Phytosomal curcumin

Another way to increase curcumin absorption is to consume curcumin in a form in which it is bound to phospholipids. This is referred to as phytosomal curcumin and is shown to be effective in weight loss.⁹

Studies on varying doses of curcumin have found that consuming 1,000mg or less per day had no effect on body weight. However, consuming 1,500mg per day has been shown to be effective in reducing participants’ body weight and waist circumference compared to those who took a placebo.⁹

Side effects of turmeric

If you are interested in taking a curcumin supplement, it’s important to know how safe it is and whether there are any side effects.

Curcumin is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated in humans when consumed in doses of up to 8g in the short term.¹⁰ Doses of 1,500mg daily have also been safely tolerated for up to six months. More studies are needed to determine the safety of longer-term curcumin use.¹¹

There are some known side effects of consuming turmeric, including nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea. Less common side effects include unusual bruising or bleeding and increased blood sugar levels.¹²

Some people may have an allergic reaction to turmeric, which is normally characterized by hives, swelling of the lips, face, and eyes, or difficulty breathing. An allergic reaction is usually considered a medical emergency, so you should seek medical attention immediately.¹²

Turmeric can also interfere with some commonly prescribed medications. If you are taking any of the following medications, make sure you speak to your healthcare provider before you start taking a turmeric supplement:¹³

  • Aspirin

  • Blood thinners

  • Diabetes medication

You should also avoid taking turmeric supplements if you are prone to kidney stones or iron deficiency (as turmeric inhibits iron absorption).

Curcumin supplements should also not be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.¹⁴

The lowdown

Further trials are required to determine the effectiveness and safety of taking supplements containing turmeric or curcumin, the active anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric. However, there is significant evidence to support their use as weight loss supplements.

Combining turmeric with a healthy diet and exercise plan may support weight loss.

Curcumin is generally well-tolerated and considered safe at doses of 1,500mg per day for up to six months. Since curcumin is absorbed poorly, taking it as a supplement is more effective than as a spice to see weight loss benefits.

Have you considered clinical trials for Weight management?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Weight management, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

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