If you enjoy Indian cooking, it's likely you're already familiar with the deep orange root turmeric. But did you know that it's also reputed to have properties that help treat skin conditions such as acne?
What is turmeric?
Part of the ginger family, turmeric has been used in Indian cooking for thousands of years as one of the main ingredients in curries and other national dishes. These days, while turmeric is still a popular spice for cooking, it's also developed a fan following who believe the plant can help with a number of health concerns, from diabetes to depression and even acne.
How can turmeric help with acne and skin problems?
Actually, it's not the turmeric itself which has possible acne-fighting properties, but its main component, curcumin, which gives the plant its orange colour as well as its reputation.
Curcumin is strongly anti-bacterial, including against P. Acnes bacteria (the ones connected to acne symptoms). A study published in 2013 suggested that curcumin was up to 36 times stronger than azelaic acid, which is often prescribed in creams to treat acne. Curcumin is also anti-fungal, although not any more so than anti-fungal medication, which can be helpful in the treatment of candida fungus skin infections. Research has also shown that curcumin can help sufferers of skin conditions such as psoriasis.
It is perhaps the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin that give it such a glowing reputation when it comes to acne, and explains why it has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce inflammation. Curcumin inhibits the spread of inflammation among cells, and turns down the intensity of inflammatory factors such as enzymes and protein kinases.
Turmeric can be taken orally, in the form of a capsule, or applied topically. However, be warned, applying turmeric directly to your face will leave you with an orange complexion afterwards (usually removable with cleanser)! The taste is not to everyone's liking either, especially not on its own. You should also be aware that side effects could occur if you ingest too much turmeric so, if you're giving it a try, keep the dose low. Or you could simply make a curry tonight and get your turmeric from there!