Turmeric for Inflammation and Muscle Recovery

Parul Dube

August 16, 2022

Turmeric or Curcuma longa is a traditionally important spice. It has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Some studies suggest that the medicinal use of turmeric has a very long history, dating back nearly 4000 years.

The turmeric plant grows mainly in Southeast Asia, especially in the Indian subcontinent. Its long medicinal history shows that turmeric has wide-ranging health benefits.

For example, turmeric helps reduce chronic inflammation, which is a cause of various major diseases. For athletes, turmeric has particular importance as it enhances muscle recovery and removes muscle soreness.

It’s no secret that turmeric possesses therapeutic properties that can assist with several health conditions. In recent years, the focus has been on turmeric’s precise action mechanism that helps combat inflammation, muscle pain, and soreness. At the very least, turmeric is a reliable natural method to lower inflammation and speed up post-workout muscle recovery.

Nutritional Profile of Turmeric

As per USDA, 100 grams of ground turmeric has the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 312 kcal
  • Protein: 9.68 g
  • Fat: 3.25 g
  • Carbohydrate: 67.1 g
  • Fibre: 22.7 g
  • Iron: 55 mg
  • Calcium: 168 mg
  • Magnesium: 208 mg
  • Phosphorous: 299 mg
  • Potassium: 2080 mg

Note: The typical dose of turmeric for therapeutic benefits is around 500–2,000 mg daily. Another option is to take one fresh teaspoon of ground turmeric. 

Turmeric for Inflammation

To an extent, inflammation is essential for the body. Inflammation is the immune system’s response to any external threat that the body faces. Many reasons can cause inflammation, including germs, injuries, and damaged muscle fibres.

Though short-term inflammation is helpful for the body, as per a study, chronic inflammation can cause various autoimmune and cardiovascular health problems. In addition, it also causes exhaustion, fever, intense pain, and other degenerative conditions. 

As per a study, the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric come from a compound known as curcumin. There are various ways in which curcumin has demonstrated its anti-inflammatory properties.

The first one is by inhibiting NF-κB, which activates inflammatory cytokines. According to research in this field, curcumin helps lower the NF-κB transcription factor, inhibiting inflammation. Another way curcumin prevents inflammation is by inhibiting what is known as the Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF). TNFs cause a significant amount of inflammation in the body. Therefore, lowering the TNF is essential for preventing inflammation.

A study has confirmed that curcumin helps block TNFs, inhibiting inflammation. The third way curcumin prevents inflammation is by reducing oxidative stress in the body, which causes inflammation. Curcumin has antioxidant properties that help fight oxidative stress and hence combat inflammation. Sufficient research backs the above finding as well. Therefore, as curcumin counters inflammation efficiently, turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

The HealthifyMe Note

Turmeric is among the most potent natural anti-inflammatory agents in the world. Curcumin in turmeric appears to be a highly effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent for decades. While turmeric and ginger go hand in hand in terms of their anti-inflammatory activity, turmeric shows slightly better performance. 

How to Use Turmeric for Inflammation

Turmeric supplements are the best way you can take turmeric to reduce inflammation. Experts recommend 500 mg to 2000 mg of turmeric daily for good results. But it is impossible to take such a high quantity through regular meals.

Also, curcumin (which is the compound responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties) is just 3.14% of turmeric. So, taking turmeric through food for inflammation may not be the best option.

Concentrated turmeric extracts in supplements are 95% curcumin. Therefore, turmeric supplements are the most potent type. But these encapsulated turmeric supplements with a higher ratio of curcumin works well for bodybuilders and active individuals. Nonetheless, research and understand the brand you choose because supplements have no regulations like medications.

The absorption capacity of the body for curcumin is relatively low. So, it would help to look for a turmeric supplement containing BioPerine and AstraGin. These together improve the absorption of curcumin by about 20 times. You can take these supplements in tablets of 400 mg to 600 mg three times a day.    

Turmeric for Muscle Recovery

Muscle pain arises due to inflammation. In the long run, the inflammation is harmful as it prevents you from engaging in physical activity. When inflammation occurs in a specific body part, more immune cells are transferred to that part to repair the damage.

As more fluid concentrates in a limited area, it leads to swelling. Once the inflammation gets treated, the swelling will subside. Turmeric can help fasten the muscle recovery process.

Curcumin can help in better muscle recovery by tackling inflammation. As per a study, the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin make turmeric an important natural muscle recovery agent.

A study on rats showed that the curcumin supplement improved muscle recovery and performance. A few more animal studies have shown curcumin’s effectiveness in muscle recovery.

A recent study showed that curcumin reduces muscle damage after intense muscle-damaging exercise. Another study on humans showed that curcumin had reduced the oxidative stress caused due to vigorous and repetitive activity. It, in turn, reduced inflammation and hastened muscle recovery. 

How to Use Turmeric for Muscle Pain and Swelling

Turmeric milk, commonly known as ‘Haldi ka Doodh’, is one of the best remedies for muscle pain. The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin makes turmeric milk highly beneficial in reducing muscle pain and swelling. 

Here’s a quick recipe to follow if you decide to make this drink yourself.


  • Milk: 100 mL
  • Turmeric: 1 teaspoon
  • Fresh ginger: 1 inch

Method of Preparation

  • Add turmeric powder and fresh ginger to the milk. Boil it.
  • Strain it before drinking.
  • You can add cardamom, clove, or cinnamon to it while boiling for additional health benefits.
  • Always add a pinch of black pepper to turmeric milk for better absorption of curcumin by our body.

Other Benefits of Turmeric

Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Curcumin in turmeric benefits the heart as it works on the endothelial membrane. With age, the functionality of the endothelial membrane starts diminishing. Therefore, it increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Curcumin works on the endothelial membrane and reduces the risk of heart disease.

A study on postmenopausal women found that people with a curcumin supplement saw as much improvement in the endothelial membrane’s health as did people who regularly did aerobic exercise.

It May Help Prevent Cancer

One of the causes of tumour growth is inflammation. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can help prevent certain cancers. A study suggested that curcumin present in turmeric can stop tumours from growing.

It can also slow down the rate of tumour growth. In addition, it can prevent tumour growth by interfering with the signalling pathways of the cell and causing them to die. As a result, turmeric can play a crucial role in preventing colon, pancreas, prostate and breast cancers.

May Delay the Onset of Alzheimer’s Disease

Healthy neurons are essential for keeping your brain healthy. As per research, a protein known as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is responsible for the health of the neurons. With age, BDNF levels may reduce in the brain and the spinal cord.

The same happens in the case of Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric may help treat Alzheimer’s by increasing the levels of BDNF and taking them to levels essential for healthy brain function. 

It Helps People with Depression.

A study done on rats showed that turmeric has antidepressant effects. Studies done on humans have also given similar results. Results with turmeric were as good as those from Prozac, a drug used for treating depression. Not only can turmeric help improve BDNF levels, but it can also boost the secretion of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. 

Good for Skin

Most skin diseases are infectious, which makes these diseases even more prevalent. Because of its antimicrobial properties, turmeric is good for the skin. Therefore, it can effectively treat skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

A review of studies showed that turmeric tackles psoriasis, a skin condition caused due to chronic inflammation of the skin. Nowadays, turmeric complements other skin treatments. 

When to Avoid Taking Turmeric

Use caution in the following situations:

  • While pregnant or breastfeeding, do not use turmeric supplements containing medicinal amounts of curcumin. 
  • Turmeric is a natural anticoagulant that can thin the blood too much if taken with other blood thinners simultaneously.
  • Turmeric causes the gallbladder to contract and make symptoms worse. Therefore, it is dangerous if you have gallbladder disease. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Adverse side effects of turmeric are mild and rare. However, it is crucial to be cautious with all herbal supplements, including turmeric. For example, turmeric is high in oxalate, making it unsuitable for people with kidney stones. Oxalate binds with calcium to form painful kidney stones.


Turmeric is an essential medicinal spice. Modern science has recognized turmeric’s medicinal properties, and many experts suggest turmeric complements other treatment procedures. It is beneficial in treating inflammation and improving muscle recovery.

A large part of turmeric’s effectiveness in treating inflammation is due to the presence of a compound known as curcumin. There are other benefits of turmeric as well.

Turmeric is healthy for the heart and the skin. It can improve mental health and prevent conditions like depression. It can also help in preventing various kinds of cancers. Moreover, it is easy to add turmeric to your diet and enjoy the health benefits that come with it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How much turmeric should I take for inflammation?

A. Turmeric can help improve inflammation in the body. However, you must take approximately 500 to 2000 mg of turmeric daily to see the effects. It isn’t easy to take this quantity through regular food. So, you can consider taking turmeric supplements or tablets. You can start with a small dose, around 150-250 mg.  

Q. How long does it take for turmeric to stop inflammation?

A. A standard treatment with turmeric extract takes eight to twelve weeks to show results. Taking three tablets of 400 mg to 600 mg per day offers a considerable difference in your body’s inflammation levels. Recovery time can vary depending on your body weight and the severity of inflammation. 

Q. How does turmeric help with inflammation?

A. There are various ways turmeric helps in inflammation. A compound known as curcumin is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric. Cumin fights inflammation by lowering the NF-κB transcription factor and inhibiting inflammation. Curcumin also helps in blocking TNFs and hence inhibiting inflammation. In addition, curcumin has antioxidant properties that help fight oxidative stress and combat inflammation.  

Q. What is inflammation? What are the symptoms and signs of inflammation?

A. Inflammation is the immune system’s response to any external threat that your body faces. The body induces inflammation due to attack by germs, injuries and damaged muscle fibres. Therefore, short-term inflammation is helpful for the body. However, chronic inflammation can cause various health problems. The most common signs are pain, heat, redness and swelling in the inflamed body parts. 

Q. What are the adverse effects of turmeric?

A. Though turmeric is safe to use in most cases, it has some side effects. It is a blood anticoagulant. It means that it can make your blood thin, which may lead to problems in blood clotting. Like anything and everything you eat, you should consume turmeric in moderation. Too much turmeric can give mild headaches and stomach discomfort.

Q. How can I reduce inflammation?

A. Turmeric is an excellent option to treat inflammation. Turmeric-based supplements containing much more significant amounts of curcumin help recover faster from inflammation. Supplements with BioPerine and AstraGin are the perfect combination to reduce inflammation. It would help if you also modified your diet by eliminating processed and inflammatory foods.  

Q. What is the best time of day to take turmeric?

A. You can take turmeric at any time of the day. However, most people prefer taking it just after dinner. It is because curcumin absorption increases with a meal. It can also help ease problems like sleep deprivation and improve sleep quality.  

Q. What can I use for inflammation?

A. You can use turmeric to treat inflammation. Curcumin is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric. You need approximately 500 mg to 2000 mg of turmeric to see your inflammation-reducing. But it is impossible to take such a high quantity through regular meals. So, taking turmeric intake through supplements is the best option. 

Q. Is turmeric or ginger better for inflammation?

A. Turmeric and ginger produce good results in terms of inflammation when used together. As per a study that tried to determine anti-inflammatory properties in ginger and turmeric, both turmeric and ginger performed well in the tests. However, turmeric yielded slightly better performance.

Q. Who should not take turmeric?

A. You should consult your doctor about taking turmeric if you are pregnant. Also, you should avoid taking turmeric at least two weeks before surgery as it can cause blood clotting issues due to thinner blood. In addition, turmeric may interfere with the way your body absorbs iron. Therefore, it is not ideal if you suffer from iron deficiency. Moreover, people with kidney stones and gallbladder disease must be cautious. 

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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2 responses to “Turmeric for Inflammation and Muscle Recovery”

    • Turmeric is such a versatile ingredient that it can be incorporated in multiple ways while cooking. Starting with your morning detox cleanse, one tsp of turmeric does wonders. Adding turmeric while cooking Indian dishes such as curries is another staple way of using it. Turmeric does well even in bakes and beverages like your buttermilk or tea. Add a pinch of it to these dishes or beverages and see how your immune system improves and becomes stronger.

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