This question gets asked a lot: is turmeric good for balancing hormones? And with good reason. Spices and herbs can absolutely be helpful in keeping your hormones healthy and balanced. That includes turmeric, but not everyone should take it—and not all ways of taking it are equal. Here’s what it can do and what’s a myth.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice that comes from a root, the curcuma longa. A compound called circumin exists within the turmeric, and this compound actually gives turmeric its helpful and active properties. Though a traditional Indian and Ayurvedic spice, turmeric—and its compound circumin—is sold as a spice in the grocery store. You can also buy the root. But what’s become most popular is purchasing turmeric as a dietary supplement.
How is turmeric good for balancing hormones?
Turmeric’s been heralded for a whole lot of benefits, and not all of them are just hormonal. Some studies have shown that turmeric may help with joint pain, reducing risk for Alzheimer’s disease, lowering deep musculoskeletal pain in fibromyalgia, and much more. The reason it’s good at so many things? The circumin in turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties that work to block some of the excess inflammation in your body in just 4 to 8 weeks of use. So what can it do for hormones?
Anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric help hormones
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties are also a plus for your hormones. Having too much inflammation in your body can be the cause of your hormone imbalances. That’s because, with inflammation, your body over-releases the hormone cortisol. All that extra cortisol tells your body to deo-prioritize the production and release of other hormones that you need to feel well. By reducing inflammation, turmeric can help your body remain able to produce and prioritize other hormones.
Turmeric for regulating estrogen
Turmeric is full of antioxidants—which are amazing. We all have free radicals in the body that can do damage, a process called oxidative stress. Antioxidants scavenge these free radicals. With fewer free radicals, your organs function better. One of the organs that antioxidants have a powerful impact on is your liver. Your liver is responsible for hundreds of vital functions, and one of them is for metabolizing and eliminating excess amounts of hormones. (Which means it’s a hormone-balancing powerhouse!)
After age 35 but before menopause, progesterone declines but estrogen doesn’t. Due to chronic stress and inflammation, many women in this age group end up with excess amounts of estrogen. If you have estrogen dominance, weight gain, heavy and frequent periods, increased anxiety, and more become the norm. Because turmeric can support estrogen metabolization and removal, it’s considered good for balancing hormones.
Turmeric and your thyroid
Research on how turmeric affects hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism is not conclusive. However, it stands to reason that it may be good for hypothyroidism because it works on reducing inflammation by lowering cortisol production. Cortisol production absolutely will absolutely put the brakes on thyroid hormone production and limit your ability to convert one of your thyroid hormones into its active form.
The other way turmeric may be good for your thyroid? If you have a goiter, ask your provider about supplementing with turmeric. Studies have shown that turmeric may be helpful.
How much turmeric is good for balancing hormones?
Currently, the recommended daily amount of turmeric is as high as 8 grams per day. But for many people, that’s way more than necessary. Chat with your doc about if you should take turmeric (see below too!) and the dosage. Chances are, if the answer is yes, they’ll want you to start much more conservatively: less than 1,000 milligrams or 1 gram.
Getting the most out of your supplement means being aware of what you’re eating before or after you take it. For optimal absorption of most vitamins and supplements, you’ll want to make sure you’re consuming healthy fats around them.
Careful! Not everyone should take turmeric
It’s so important to know the risks of adding a supplement to your routine before you start popping pills. Before you add turmeric or circumin to your cart, listen to this: turmeric limits your ability to absorb iron. In fact, it’s pretty dramatic too. Small doses of turmeric could inhibit absorption by 20%. Larger doses can affect absorption by as much as 90%. This can be dangerous to anyone, and even more so if you already have a condition that leads to or causes low iron (such as anemia).
So who else shouldn’t take turmeric? It’s a pretty long list. For starters, turmeric is a no for women who are pregnant, unless it’s directly recommended by their healthcare provider. If you have hormone-sensitive cancer (or any other hormone-sensitive condition, like endometriosis), you’ll also need to exercise caution. Don’t take turmeric until you talk to your provider. It’s also worth avoiding if you have diabetes, reflux, clotting disorders, liver issues, and more.
Also, keep this in mind: turmeric acts as a blood thinner. Like any and all vitamins and supplements, you need to disclose it to your physician well before being scheduled for surgery. Most likely, you’ll need to stop taking it in advance.
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