Turmeric tea has gained a cult following in recent years, with health-loving hipsters around the world shunning flat whites in favour of a steaming cup of the golden spice. But what are the big turmeric tea benefits for health? And why is brewing this hero herb so special?
Turmeric is a spice with a vibrant yellow-orange colour. It’s related to ginger and before the turmeric latte became an Instagram-endorsed beverage, it was most well-known for adding a sharp, earthy, taste and ochre colour to curries.
Despite appearances, the health-giving properties of this golden spice didn’t appear from nowhere. In fact, in India, turmeric has been a kitchen staple and a go-to herb for centuries.
The ingredients within turmeric have been well documented to support normal joint and bone health, and could also help ease joint pain caused by swelling. For example, one study revealed curcumin was effective in reducing pain caused by osteoarthritis and other studies suggest similar benefits for people with other forms of arthritis.2
Turmeric can also help ease some digestive problems. For example, studies show a potential role of curcumin in managing conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive tract. This includes helping to maintain remission from symptoms in mild and moderate forms of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis.3,4
Turmeric appears to help lower LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad variety.) As a result, turmeric may aid circulation and improve blood flow to the heart by reducing the build-up of plaque in the arteries.5
Your body produces free radicals during metabolic processes, such as eating. These unstable atoms can amass over time causing disruption and damage to cells (a process called oxidation).6 This contributes to the aging process and may play a role in the development of some chronic conditions.7
Due to its potent polyphenol content, turmeric has powerful antioxidant properties that can help fight off oxidative damage to cells.
Some studies show the antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral properties of the spice could help to moderate the immune system.8 This suggests turmeric could contribute to how effectively your immune system protects your body.
Making fresh turmeric tea takes no more than five minutes, a handful of ingredients and one pot. It’s hardly worth the effort (and expense) of walking to your local café to buy one.
Turmeric contains a relatively low concentration of curcumin. For context, the spice used in your tea is likely to contain roughly 3% of this active compound.9 In short, you’re highly unlikely to overdose on the spice by sprinkling it into a daily tea or latte.
There isn’t a specific recommended daily intake of turmeric. However, some experts provide a benchmark intake of 500mg of curcuminoids a day.10 One teaspoon of fresh or ground turmeric contains on average 200mg of curcumin.11
When consumed in moderation, the amount of turmeric in a tea is unlikely to cause side effects. Almost anyone can safely drink turmeric tea. However, as high doses of curcumin could have a blood-thinning effect, if you’re taking anticoagulants such as warfarin, talk to a doctor before taking turmeric in the higher concentrations found in supplements.12
And if you fancy exploring some of the wider benefits of turmeric, why not add a slice of turmeric tea cake on the side? Or maybe test out the skin benefits of curcumin by mixing a tablespoon of turmeric with some water to make a facemask for while you sip on your tea.
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.