Guide: How Long Does It Take for Turmeric to Start Working?

How Long Does It Take for Turmeric to Work

If you have decided to start using natural remedies to tend to any conditions you might be suffering from, you might be curious as to whether they are working. It can be difficult to determine whether your natural supplements are helping your overall health or if you have simply spent money for nothing. Fortunately, most supplements have a timeline in which they are supposed to show results.

For most natural supplements, the timeline can vary. For turmeric specifically, its timeline of efficacy can vary due to several factors.

If you are concerned about your turmeric not working, hopefully, this article can give you some more clarity on how to use turmeric supplements and for how long.

Let's get started, shall we? 

What is Turmeric?

The Curcuma longa, colloquially known as turmeric, is a flowering plant of the Zingiberaceae family, a family of ginger roots.

What is Turmeric

The Curcuma longais a perennial plant native to India and Southeast Asia and has been applied to several uses in the cultures of both places.

The uses for turmeric in both countries and across the world has seen a wide range of applications.

Examples and Applications

For example:

  • Culinary: Turmeric has been used in Asian and Indian cuisine to impart a pleasantly bitter taste into curries and the like.
  • Dye: Turmeric has been used to dye fabrics and food alike with a golden yellow color thanks to the curcumin turmeric contains.
  • Turmeric Paper: Turmeric even has uses in testing the pH content of water by using the root to make turmeric paper.

While turmeric’s uses do apply to the practical, it also has the added benefit of having medicinal uses. It is important to bear in mind that the use of turmeric for contemporary medicine is a relatively new field and is still being studied. However, recent studies have found that turmeric offers health benefits for conditions such as arthritis, joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heartburn, kidney issues, and colitis.

The benefits of turmeric, while still a fledgling science, have an impressive track record.  This has resulted in turmeric supplements becoming a staple for anyone suffering from the above conditions or issues to alleviate their symptoms. Turmeric has an impressive anti-inflammatory effect that can reduce joint inflammation and reduce pain and stiffness for those who have arthritis. Turmeric even has a use for relieving indigestion, but the amount you take must be monitored to ensure you do not cause more irritation to your stomach than you relieve.

How to Take Turmeric

If you have concerns about how long it is taking for your turmeric intake to have an observable effect on your overall health, it might be the result of improper consumption. Despite the relative infancy of turmeric’s use as a health supplement, guidelines have been established about how much turmeric you should be consuming at any given time and with what frequency.

How to Take Turmeric

With turmeric serving as a staple of both Indian and Asian cuisine, it sees regular and excessive consumption in everyday dishes. The typical Indian diet will usually involve consuming anywhere between 2,000 to 2,500 mg of turmeric a day, which equates to a 60 to 100 mg intake of the staple chemical curcumin. The difference is that the raw spice only has a 3% concentration of curcumin, wherein the medicinal benefits truly lie, whereas turmeric extract has a 95% concentration of curcumin. This makes turmeric supplements more beneficial to you than simply spicing your meals up with turmeric spice.

Turmeric Root

Based on studies conducted, the Arthritis Foundation recommends taking a 400 to 600 mg capsule of turmeric three times a day to maximize the actual medical benefit you will experience from turmeric. If you are simply using the spice rather than a specially designed supplement, you would be experiencing less of a benefit over an even longer period than you would otherwise see with the supplement.

However, regardless of the medium through which you consume turmeric, and by extension curcumin, several other factors dictate how effective turmeric is as a supplement.

The Simple Answer

On average, it takes between 4 to 8 weeks for turmeric to work through your system and manifest results. However, other details can affect this timeline and should be noted.

We will be using the rest of this article to expand on certain details, side effects, conditions, and measures that can impede or enhance the way turmeric works through your body and is absorbed. 

The Complicated Reality

One of the lesser-known details about how turmeric can be used as a supplement is the fact that it is ridiculously difficult to get it to stay in the body long enough to reap the benefits. Back in 2009, a study published in the Alternative Medicine Review explained that a dose of 3.6 grams of curcumin a day increased the level of overall curcumin in the blood of the consumer. Doses that fell below the 3.6 grams used in the study did not demonstrate any noticeable rise in curcumin in the subjects’ blood. Certain dosages are ineffective in providing you with the health benefits for which turmeric is lauded due to the difficulty your blood has in absorbing turmeric.

The reason turmeric is so difficult to absorb is that curcumin dissolves in fat instead of being water-soluble. As a result, digesting curcumin from turmeric you have used as a spice causes most of the curcumin to be lost. Since the digestive system is a water-based part of your biology, most of the curcumin gets excreted rather than metabolized. The curcumin that is metabolized is metabolized quickly, which reduces the bioavailability of the molecule and leaves extraordinarily little for your body to use.

Use Caution

In addition to the absorption issues, there are rare instances where consuming turmeric and, by extension, curcumin is a hazard to your health rather than a boon.

  • Iron Deficiency: Taking turmeric when you suffer from an iron deficiency can result in your body having issues absorbing the iron it does get.
  • Kidney Stones: Turmeric is high in oxalate, a compound found in certain foodstuffs, which can bind with calcium. When it does, it can result in the creation of kidney stones and cause severe pain in individuals who have had a history of these issues.
  • Gallbladder Disease: If you suffer from gallbladder disease, taking turmeric can be extremely dangerous as it can cause the gallbladder to contract and exacerbate the symptoms of the disease.
  • Rare Bleeding Disorders: Turmeric can potentially hinder your blood’s ability to clot and cause further thin out your blood when you are taking certain blood thinners.
  • Diabetes: Turmeric can cause your blood sugar levels to decrease, making things difficult for certain individuals with diabetes.

Other issues include minor side effects like stomach pain, constipation, nausea, and diarrhea if turmeric is taken too frequently or more than a recommended dosage. All these side effects and absorption issues can stunt the progress of turmeric in your body.

Boosting the Effects of Curcumin

Curcumin absorption is minimal, reducing the health benefits you would enjoy from the supplements or just from spicing up your meals with turmeric. However, there are certain measures you can take to enhance the absorption of curcumin into your bloodstream.

One way to enhance your curcumin absorption is to combine the supplement or root with certain healthy fats. Since curcumin is lipophilic, meaning it attaches to fats, cooking turmeric root with other foods that are high in good fats will help increase its bioavailability. If you cook your turmeric root with coconut oil, you bathe the curcumin content with enough healthy fat for it to attach and increase the amount your body has access to. You can also use turmeric in a smoothie that you blend with whole fat dairy for the same effect you would see from the coconut oil option.

Boosting The Effects

Another common way to boost the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric is to combine it with black pepper. Due to the digestive enzymes in your stomach, intestines, and liver, along with the water-based nature of the human digestive system, curcumin gets metabolized too quickly to be of significant benefit. However, a compound found in black pepper called piperine has been proven to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin.

Piperine itself is a potent inhibitor for the part of your metabolism that breaks down drugs and medicine, protecting the curcumin from the digestive enzymes that would otherwise purge it from your body. As a result, curcumin’s absorption rate is boosted without any adverse side effects to you. Studies have found that piperine’s boost to curcumin’s bioavailability is a whopping 2,000%. So, cooking turmeric root in a dish heavy in healthy fats and black pepper could help your curcumin absorption go through the roof.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that turmeric is only about the curcumin within. The reality is that over 100 compounds in the root offer medicinal benefits to our bodies. Processing turmeric for supplements or byproducts causes a lot of these compounds to be eliminated in the process, with many supplements only containing curcumin by themselves.

Medical science is experimenting with the entire turmeric root. Research findings indicate that the various compounds within the root synergize to increase the bioavailability of curcumin in the body. As a result, using the entire turmeric root for your meal can help maximize the health benefits you enjoy from the curcumin.

Finally, more than a few spices can transform when exposed to heat, which causes the compounds within to activate or be altered to maximize their effect on your body. Research on turmeric has found that heating it can increase the solubility of the spice in water, mitigating the issue with the digestive enzymes that strip away the bioavailability of the curcumin.

Heating has also demonstrated a bolstering effect on curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its efficacy at fighting off cancerous cells. The trick is figuring out how long you should heat the spice and at what temperature, given that turmeric is somewhat sensitive to heat. This sensitivity reduces the amount of time you need to heat turmeric, with average heating times being recommended at 15 minutes to increase the bioavailability of the curcumin.

Using any of these tactics can make turmeric more easily processed by the body and increase the benefits you get out of it.

The Point

Turmeric, on average, should start showing results and benefits within 4 to 8 weeks of ingestion. Using the turmeric root as a spice can offer a more comprehensive list of benefits as all the compounds in the root work together, or a supplement can instead offer a more concentrated effect from the curcumin specifically. However, both will still be subject to the caveats associated with the biology of the compounds.

Powdered Turmeric

When it comes to taking turmeric, you should be opting for the recommended dosage of turmeric for their specific circumstances, keeping in mind the low amount of curcumin that exists within the root. Taking too little or too much can negatively impact the timeline of results.

You also need to be aware of any medical conditions that will cause turmeric to cause more harm than good. Failing to account for chronic conditions that affect your ability to process the already difficult-to-absorb compounds or absorb the compounds in a way that exacerbates your condition will damage your benefit timeline.

Finally, keeping in mind the low bioavailability will help you recognize if your timeline is more about not getting enough than anything else and should employ methods to help reinforce the bioavailability of the curcumin to speed up your results timeline.

Ultimately, turmeric is a highly beneficial spice whose contents can help you on the path to a healthier you even in the face of issues that you might have only considered treatable with synthetically created medicine.* But even with all of these benefits, the infancy of medicinal studies with turmeric means there is no clear time frame in which you will see results as your biology will affect how well you absorb the compounds and benefit from them.

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