If you’ve been reading this blog for quite awhile, you’re probably already familiar with the wonderful benefits and uses of turmeric.

Research on this ancient spice commonly used in Indian cooking and Ayurvedic practices continues to mount, with science already firmly establishing it as protective of the cardiovascular system, [1] supporter of healthy cholesterol levels, [2] and a potent free radical scavenger.[3] New research coming to light is also showing that turmeric may keep you looking young, possibly slowing down the rate at which the skin ages. Is it time to start adding this yellow spice to your beauty regimen?

How Turmeric Keeps You Young

Turmeric is one of the highest antioxidant-containing spices on the ORAC scale. ORAC, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a scale that measures the amount and activity of antioxidants in foods. Turmericcomes in at #6 in the list of herbs and spices with the highest antioxidants, just under cloves (the highest) and cinnamon.[4] Antioxidants are essential for protecting the integrity of the skin by preventing free radicals from destroying its texture and elasticity.

Antioxidants also protect the skin from ultraviolet light, one of the key contributors to the visible signs of aging. [5] But don’t think that turmeric’s anti-aging power is just about the antioxidants–far from it. Research shows that turmeric inhibits a key enzyme (elastase) that reduces the ability of elastin from forming. [6] Elastin, along with collagen, is a protein needed for making the skin smooth and pliable, and also helps it to retain its original position when pinched. In fact, turmeric, in vitro, may inhibit elastase by up to 65%. [7]

How Turmeric Helps You Feel Young

While looking young is certainly helpful, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. True youthfulness comes from feeling young, because without energy, vibrancy, and emotional well being, life can be dull and unexciting. We now know that emotions are extreme determinants in how the physical body ages, so incorporating tactics to keep you mentally and emotional well are extremely important for a high quality of life.

Turmeric has shown some promise recently in helping people with post-traumatic stress disorder. [8] Some research also shows benefits of using turmeric for depression, but more studies need to be conducted to replicate these results. [9] It has been suggested that turmeric’s soothing compounds play a role in its ability to support mood. [10] While serotonin and other brain chemicals are involved, it’s possible that more research on the link between inflammationand depression could be on the horizon.

How to Use Turmeric in Your Beauty Protocol

If you’re attempting to use turmeric as a supplement for supporting skin health and for fighting the visible signs of aging, note that you can either use it topically or internally. As a topical adjunct to your current skin regimen, you can make a facial mask by mixing together 1 teaspoon turmeric powder with 1 teaspoon raw honey and ½ teaspoon coconut oil. Apply to the skin for 10 to 20 minutes and wash off with a soft natural soap. Since turmeric can stain, your skin may look yellowish for a time, so do this routine only one to two times a week at night. Further details can be found here and here.

You can also use a high-quality turmeric extract in liquid form for topical and internal preparations. Liquid extracts generally provide a higher level of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds compared with powder.

How do you use turmeric? We’d love to hear your suggestions!

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM