One of our editors decided to spice things up by trying turmeric supplements for 30 days.
Medically reviewed by Suzanne Fisher, MS
Turmeric has many potential benefits due to curcumin, a chemical compound within the spice that has anti-inflammatory properties.
I tried taking a turmeric supplement for a month to see if it could help with three health conditions I live with.
My results were mixed but beneficial enough that I'm still taking the supplement every day.
Always talk to your healthcare provider and do your research before trying a new supplement.
Jamie Wolff, MA is an editor at Health with a Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling and expressive therapies. Research shows that turmeric can help reduce inflammation, so Jamie wanted to see if taking a supplement would help reduce symptoms of her chronic illnesses.
As a former health coach who has spent several decades immersed in wellness, I’ve taken many supplements over the years including turmeric. Turmeric is a brightly-colored spice typically used in Indian cuisine, but you can also take it as a supplement.
Turmeric has many potential benefits due to curcumin, a chemical compound within the spice that has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation occurs when your immune system responds to potentially harmful substances in the body. Short-term, this can lead to symptoms like redness or swelling. Over time, it can lead to symptoms like joint pain, depression or anxiety, and insomnia.
But will taking a turmeric supplement really lead to a noticeable difference in your health?
To answer this question, I tried taking turmeric pills for 30 days to see if it could help reduce symptoms of three health conditions I live with: asthma, anxiety, and psoriasis. My results were mixed, but I was pleasantly surprised by one shift in particular.
Related: How Is Psoriasis Treated?
Before You Get Started
Turmeric is a relatively safe supplement. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), taking up to 4,000 to 8,000 milligrams of curcumin per day is “generally recognized as safe.”
You might benefit from turmeric if you, like me, have an inflammatory condition, anxiety, arthritis, or an autoimmune condition such as psoriasis.
However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that the health benefits of turmeric are still uncertain, and there are some potential risks. For example:
Turmeric can decrease your body’s ability to absorb certain drugs, like cancer or heart disease medications.
Turmeric may increase your risk of side effects when taken with drugs like antidepressants and allergy medications.
Research has yet to determine whether or not turmeric is safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
You should always consult your healthcare provider before taking supplements, especially if you take other medications or supplements. Your healthcare provider or pharmacist can help you make sure your medications won't interact with one another.
I decided to try a turmeric supplement for 30 days to see if it would improve symptoms of three health conditions I live with: asthma, anxiety, and psoriasis.
Turmeric might help reduce symptoms of these three conditions, all of which I’ve tried to manage over the past few years.
Research studies in these areas, however, were relatively small, and most studies were conducted on animals or in vitro (human cells in Petri dishes). However, the results are promising, especially for someone (like myself) who has tried a long list of treatments with underwhelming success.
My goals were as follows:
Plaque psoriasis: Fewer new plaques, as well as less hair loss associated with scalp psoriasis
Asthma: Fewer episodes of noticeable shortness of breath and inhaler use—particularly during or after exercise
Anxiety: Fewer episodes of noticeable symptoms, including restlessness, impatience, and lightheadedness
Asthma: A chronic lung condition that causes inflamed and narrowed airways, which makes breathing difficult
Anxiety: A mental health condition characterized by excessive worrying
Choosing a Supplement
I chose Thorne’s Curcumin Phytosome. I always do research before trying new supplements, and Thorne is a well-respected brand, whose products I've used in the past.
I also chose Thorne’s turmeric supplement because:
It uses a clinically researched form of curcumin that contains no artificial colors or flavors.
Health named it the best overall turmeric supplement based on feedback from registered dieticians.
Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate supplements, you want to look for brands that submit their products for third-party testing. "It's important to choose reputable brands that undergo third-party testing to ensure quality and purity," said Crystal Scott, RD, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.
It might be worth noting that Thorne’s Curcumin Phytosome does not contain black pepper, which can help the body absorb curcumin. "Turmeric has been shown to be significantly more bioavailable when paired with black pepper," Shauna McQueen, RD, a registered dietitian and whole person health strategist, told me. However, Thorne's supplement does contain a phospholipid (type of fat molecule) derived from sunflower, which helps absorption.
I decided to take my daily turmeric every morning, after breakfast. Each capsule contains 1,000 milligrams (mg) of curcumin, which is higher than other curcumin supplements. The directions suggested taking one to two capsules daily. I tend to have a sensitive stomach, so I erred on the side of caution and decided on one capsule per day.
Each week, I documented results by:
Taking weekly photos of psoriasis on my back (a location of frequent flares) and taking observational notes on new plaques on my head and legs (two other locations of frequent flares)
Recording the number of times I experienced shortness of breath or used my inhaler
Recording the number of times I experienced my tell-tale symptoms of anxiety
Here are my notes:
About the same overall
Episodes: 3 Inhaler: 0
Back looks a bit worse New plaques on legs
Episodes: 2 Inhaler: 0
Back looks about the same New plaques on legs, back, and head
Episodes: 0 Inhaler: 0
Back looks better New plaques on legs and head
Episodes: 0 Inhaler: 0
All in all, I would call my results “mixed.” I didn’t have any side effects even though I have a sensitive stomach, so that was a plus.
Here's a summary of my results for each goal:
Psoriasis: My psoriasis didn’t change much. Some areas cleared a bit, but other plaques emerged. All in all, I call it about even.
Asthma: I experienced slightly fewer episodes of shortness of breath. This had been slowly improving over the past few months anyway, but I do find it interesting that I moved from three weekly episodes to none in just a few weeks. I also never needed to use my inhaler during exercise.
Anxiety: I was pleasantly surprised by this shift. I noticed a definite improvement, marked by the fact that I had no “episodes” of heightened anxiety at all by week two of taking the supplement.
Interestingly, my psoriasis didn’t improve even though I felt less stressed overall. This speaks to some of the challenges of this 30-day trial.
Determining a supplement’s effectiveness always comes with challenges. Here were some of mine.
I only took 1,000 mg of the Thorne supplement. Perhaps taking 2,000 mg—as the packaging suggested—would have made more of a difference.
Not Enough Time
I only recorded my results for 30 days, which might not be enough time to notice significant changes. It can take several months to see the results of a supplement. Perhaps I'll see more shifts if I keep taking turmeric for a few more months.
My results are anecdotal. In other words. I relied on my own experience and perspective, which is likely not 100% objective or accurate.
First of all, I didn’t have a metric system by which to quantify changes. For the psoriasis, I took photos and made general observations that it looked the same or slightly worse based on new spots I found. For the asthma and anxiety, I simply wrote down whether or not I had any significant "episodes." I didn't document any objectively measurable changes.
I was also likely influenced by cognitive bias. Cognitive bias is an error in thinking based on personal beliefs and experiences. In my case, I'm inclined toward believing in holistic wellness approaches, and I have a lot of experience working in that space. Therefore, I'm slightly biased that turmeric can help.
The placebo effect is a phenomenon that occurs when you experience positive changes—like fewer symptoms—even though you don’t receive any treatment. You might feel better because you expect to feel better. In my case, simply knowing that turmeric can help reduce symptoms of anxiety might have contributed to my reduced anxiety.
Too Many Factors
There are simply too many factors to determine a direct correlation between turmeric and my symptoms. I’ll break it down by goal:
Psoriasis: Sunlight can help manage psoriasis, and I spent more time in the sun because it was summer. That might have prevented significant flares. I also felt less anxious overall. Stress can trigger psoriasis, so perhaps feeling less stressed prevented my psoriasis from getting worse. Finally, I already use many other treatment strategies.
Asthma: My shortness of breath had slowly improved over the previous few months, so maybe it simply continued to improve. Respiratory symptoms can also be worse in colder weather, so perhaps the warmer weather helped. (The weather grew a bit colder the following week, and I needed to use my inhaler twice.) Finally, anxiety can cause shortness of breath, and I felt less anxious overall.
Anxiety: I had more vacation time while taking the supplement and more opportunities to enjoy beautiful weather after many air quality warnings and rainy days earlier in the season. I also decided to settle down in my current town after debating a possible move for the past several years. This definitely reduced stress.
The Final Verdict
Do turmeric supplements work? I don't have a definitive answer. I did experience less anxiety, and taking the supplement didn't lead to any negative side effects. However, I also only took it for 30 days, and I took the lower end of the dosage recommendations.
I will likely continue taking the Thorne supplement for a few months, especially as symptoms of psoriasis and asthma can increase during colder, drier months. If it seems to work, I'll have one more tool in my toolkit. If not, I'll keep trying other options. Sometimes you need to try many treatment approaches before finding a combination that works for you.
Always consult with a healthcare provider before trying any supplements and do your research to help ensure safety and quality.
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