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Turmeric Tea: Is It Good For You?

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 28, 2020

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family. Its roots, which have a notable orange color, have been used as a natural dye, food additive, and medicinal herb for centuries.

Native to southern India and Indonesia, turmeric has a peppery aroma and strong, slightly bitter flavor. It’s a main ingredient in curry powder mixes, but can be added to numerous other dishes. In some parts of Asia, it’s added to water and applied to the face for glowing skin.

Turmeric can be found in the spice aisle of any grocery store. It’s also available in more concentrated amounts as a supplement. You can even consume it as a tea by steeping the root in hot water. Bagged turmeric tea can also be found at most health food stores.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric — it’s what gives the root its distinctive color. While several studies indicate that there are potential benefits to turmeric and curcumin, further research is needed to confirm the degree of its positive effects.

Nutrition Information

You can make turmeric tea by steeping ground, freshly sliced, or grated turmeric in hot water and letting it steep for about 10-15 minutes. A single cup of turmeric tea made with one teaspoon of ground turmeric provides:

  • Calories: 8
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Turmeric also contains:

The root itself has flavonoids, beta-carotene, and curcumin. These powerful antioxidants may all provide several health benefits, such as reduced inflammation and the prevention of chronic diseases.

Potential Health Benefits of Turmeric Tea

Curcumin is the most potent ingredient in turmeric. That said, it has low bioavailability, meaning that the body doesn’t absorb it well.

Still, research has found that turmeric tea may have several potential health benefits:

Immune SystemSupport

The curcumin in turmeric contains antioxidants that can boost your immune system. Curcumin could act as an immune modulator, which means that it may aid in the regulation of immune cells. 

Reduced Inflammation

One of the most popular applications of turmeric tea is in the treatment of arthritis pain. Curcumin provides powerful anti-inflammatory properties. One study shows that it may be effective in the management of osteoarthritis pain. Some studies show that it may be as effective as some medications, without the side effects. 

Heart Health

Curcumin from turmeric tea may help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) as well as total cholesterol levels. Taking curcumin before and after coronary artery bypass surgery may help decrease the risk of having a heart attack

Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Numerous studies show curcumin’s promise as an anticancer drug. It may slow the growth of cancer cells. It can also help prevent the development of cancer, especially in the digestive system. 

Brain Health

Curcumin in turmeric tea may slow or prevent changes in the brain linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. It has the potential to aid in the treatment of depression as well.

Potential Risks of Turmeric Tea

In general, turmeric tea is well-tolerated by most people. However, there are some potential risks to keep in mind:

Medication Interference

The curcumin in turmeric may lower your blood sugar or blood pressure. If you take medications for high blood pressure, like Warfarin, or diabetes, you should consult with your doctor before adding turmeric tea to your diet. 

Pregnancy Concerns

While there is little evidence to support this claim, some believe that turmeric may stimulate labor contractions. Pregnant women may want to avoid turmeric tea or speak with their doctor before drinking it. 

Bile Duct Blockages

Turmeric can increase bile production, which may cause problems for those who have had bile duct blockages, gallstones, or liver disease. Again, consult with your doctor if you have (or have had) any of these conditions.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Spice, Turmeric, Ground.”

Frontiers in Pharmacology: “Turmeric and Its Major Compound Curcumin on Health: Bioactive Effects and Safety Profiles for Food, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnological and Medicinal Applications.”

Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: “Chapter 13 Turmeric, the Golden Spice.”

Journal of Applied Biotechnology & Bioengineering: “Role of Antioxidants in Prevention of Diseases.”

Journal of Clinical Immunology: “Spicing Up of the Immune System by Curcumin.”

Cell Division: “Curcumin and Tumor Immune-Editing: Resurrecting the Immune System.”

Oncogene: “Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Agents Differ In Their Ability to Suppress NF-kappaB Activation, Inhibition of Expression of Cytooxygenase-2 and Cyclin D1, and Abrogation of Tumor Cell Proliferation.”

SpringerPlus: “Curcumin: A New Paradigm and Therapeutic Opportunity for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis: Curcumin for Osteoarthritis Management.”

Nutrition Journal: “Efficacy and Safety of Turmeric and Curcumin in Lowering Blood Lipid Levels in Patients with Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials.”

The American Journal of Cardiology: “Effects of Curcuminoids on Frequency of Acute Myocardial Infarction After Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting.”

World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Therapeutic Applications of Curcumin for Patients with Pancreatic Cancer.”

Nutrients: “Curcumin and Cancer.”

Cancer Prevention Research: “Phase IIa Clinical Trial of Curcumin for the Prevention of Colorectal Neoplasia.”

Biofactors: “Curcumin and Neurodegenerative Diseases.”

Phytotherapy Research: “Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Controlled Trial.”

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