So while this may have translated to healthier mice, it’s unclear whether the same would be true in humans. Not to mention that had this study been conducted in humans, an average 70kg person would have needed to consume over 2kg of turmeric daily during the trial – which would be impossible.
Since no similar studies have yet been conducted on humans, we still don’t understand whether turmeric reduces inflammation in a similar way.
Effect on pain
Yet despite the lack of research showing benefits in humans, turmeric (and curcumin) are widely marketed as anti-inflammatory supplements for a range of conditions – including joint pain and arthritis.
According to the results of one review, it does seem that in human trials turmeric supplements may have a modest benefit on pain compared to a placebo – and in some cases as as beneficial as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
But the studies included in this review appear to be of variable quality. Many were conducted using a very small population (ten people or fewer) and had a wide variation in the amount of turmeric participants were given. This means it’s hard to make a clear recommendation that turmeric is effective for pain.
Turmeric has also been suggested to have anti-cancer properties due to its anti-oxidant effect. In the lab, curcumin has been shown to reverse DNA changes in cells which cause breast cancer. But it’s less clear whether turmeric reduces the risk of cancer or supports treatment in humans.
Some research has shown that using a turmeric gargle could reduce the side effects of radiotherapy in people with head and neck cancers, however.