You’re probably familiar with turmeric powder. The bright yellow powder is used in many Indian dishes including curry. It’s ubiquitous at street festivals and celebrations such as Holi. While it is recognized for its vibrant color, its health benefits are what make this natural plant revered in traditional medicine. Find out how adding this oil to your arsenal can make all the difference when it comes to overall health.
What Is Turmeric Essential Oil?
Turmeric essential oil is derived from the roots of the turmeric plant known by the Latin name Curcuma longa. The oil is extracted from the roots using a steam distillation method. The turmeric plant is native to Asia and part of the ginger family known as Zingiberaceae. It is cultivated most often in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Turmeric essential oil is a key part of Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese traditional medicine. The plant was first used in folk medicine as a dye. As knowledge of the plant and its essential oil grew, it became popular as a treatment for skin care ailments and heart health. The main chemical components in turmeric essential oil are zingiberene, alpha-curcumene, ar-turmerone, and cucumin.
Turmeric essential oil features a spicy, woody aroma with a fresh finish. The scent is considered a medium note. This oil blends well with other woodsy oils including frankincense oil and floral oils such as chamomile oil.
Health Benefits of Turmeric Essential Oil
1. May Fight Cancer
Like many other natural products such as green tea, turmeric oil may help to fight cancer on a cellular level. This oil helps to stop the growth of tumors and can also induce cell death, or apoptosis, in cancerous cells. The oil does this by working directly to inhibit the energy centers of these cancerous cells.
A study published by BioFactors in 2013 examined the use of turmeric oil compounds in fighting colon cancer cells. Scientists focused on the effects of curcumin and ar-turmerone — also known as aromatic turmerone — on cancer cells in animals. The results showed that turmeric oil compounds prevented tumor growth. Scientists believe that the anti-inflammatory properties of this oil help to prevent inflammation that causes related colon cancers.
Another study published by the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry evaluated the effect of ar-turmerone on breast cancer cells. The chemical compound was found to reduce enzyme activity and expression of tumor promoters in cancer cells. This means turmeric oil can help to reduce the spread of tumors and prevent damaged cells from replicating.
How to Use: Aromatherapy
The exact benefits of turmeric oil in fighting cancer are still being researched. There are studies that show the aromatic nature of these compounds can help to treat certain cancers when used in conjunction with traditional treatments. Add a few drops of turmeric oil to your diffuser three times a day. Breathe deeply and focus on relaxation.
2. Reduces Pain and Inflammation
Turmeric has been used for centuries in Asia to treat arthritis and other joint pain related health problems. The compounds in turmeric oil block cytokines and enzymes that can cause inflammation and discomfort. These properties have shown effectiveness in treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reviewed the efficacy of turmeric oil in treating arthritis on mice. Scientists concluded that a daily dose of turmeric essential oil reduced symptoms of arthritis. The researchers state the same effective dose in humans would be 5000 milligrams. The oil worked specifically on reducing joint pain and other pain receptors were not affected. Additional research is needed to show whether turmeric oil can help with other forms of pain such as muscle aches and headaches.
How to Use: Aromatherapy
The researchers gave the pure essential oil to the mice orally. Experts do not recommend human consumption of pure essential oils due to the high concentration of chemical compounds and limited research of side effects. Instead, add 3 drops of turmeric oil to your diffuser or a steam bath. Inhale the aroma deeply.
3. Detoxes and Improves Liver Function
Turmeric oil contains antioxidants like many other essential oils. These antioxidants work to eliminate free radicals that can cause a host of health problems. They help to body to remove toxins and prevent build-up of dangerous compounds.
A 2015 study found that turmeric oil can prevent oxidative stress and toxins from damaging the liver. The study examined six groups of albino rats over a period of 30 days. The groups that received pre-administration of turmeric showed reduced presence of an antimetabolite known as methotrexate, or MTX. MTX has been shown to induce liver damage and decrease antioxidant capacity. Using turmeric oil can help to protect the liver from this dangerous toxin.
Another study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology also examined the liver effects of turmeric oil on rats during a 30-day period. Researchers found that turmeric oil increased antioxidant enzymes in the liver and blood. These enzymes support the liver in removing toxins and waste products from the human body.
How to Use: Aromatherapy
Add 3 drops of turmeric essential oil to your diffuser before each meal. Run the diffuser for 5 to 10 minutes before eating.
4. Boosts Immune Response
Turmeric oil has anti-allergic, anti-worm, and antibacterial properties that help the immune system fight off invaders. The antioxidants in turmeric oil keep the human body running efficiently by eliminating bacteria and viruses. The anti-inflammatory properties of this oil also help to reduce swelling that can cause sore throat, difficulty breathing, and severe cough.
How to Use: Steam Bath
Add a few drops of turmeric oil to a large pot of boiling water. Remove the pot from heat. Cover your head with a warm towel and lean over the pot to breathe in the steam. Inhale for 5 minutes or until your sinuses clear.
5. Prevents Neurological Diseases
Turmeric essential oil can protect cognitive function and prevent brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The main component responsible for these health benefits is ar-turmerone. In many of these cognitive disorders, cells known as microglia are activated. These cells have been correlated with reduced brain function and memory retention.
Scientists have found that ar-turmerone inhibits the activation of microglia. That means this essential oil can prevent brain disorders from developing in the first place. This chemical compound also increases the efficiency and proliferation of neural stem cells. This compound helps to regenerate brain cells and can slow the progress of degenerative neurological disease.
How to Use: Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is king with turmeric oil. Simply adding the oil to a diffuser can help you achieve many of the health benefits. We recommend using a nebulizer or ultrasonic diffuser to get the most out of this oil’s brain boosting properties.
6. Boosts Hair and Skin Health
Turmeric oil helps to reduce hair loss and prevent male pattern baldness. The anti-inflammatory properties of the oil help to tighten hair follicles and prevent stress related hair fall. Its ability to reduce oxidative stress prevents cellular damage that lead to hair loss. The antioxidants in turmeric oil stimulate the regrowth of healthy cells and can increase thickness of hair.
Turmeric oil is also used in many skin care products to make skin look more youthful. Turmeric antioxidants work to eliminate free radicals that can cause wrinkles and premature aging. Chemical compounds improve skin elasticity, resulting in firmer skin. Antibacterial properties help fend of infections and bacteria that can build up in pores and cause acne breakouts. Turmeric oil also regulates sebum content — the amount of oil produced by your skin. That means turmeric oil can be used on all skin types, even oily skin.
How to Use: Hair Oil and Body Oil
Make a hot hair oil treatment using turmeric oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil. Simply mix 5 drops of each oil into a small bowl and heat gently in the microwave. Work the hot oil through damp hair from root to tip. Massage gently into the scalp and leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing in the shower.
Combine 3 drops turmeric oil, 4 drops coconut oil, and 4 drops argan oil to make body or face oil. Gently massage into skin before bedtime. Your body will absorb the healthy skin compounds while you get your beauty sleep. You can also apply this oil directly to affected areas to reduce redness and dry skin.
7. Protects the Heart
Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans and hundreds of thousands die each year from cardiovascular health conditions. It’s important to focus on heart health now more than ever. Essential oils are a great way to protect heart health with limited side effects.
The main heart healthy component of turmeric oil is curcumin. This compound helps to improve liver health. Which reduces the production of bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. It also helps to reduce inflammation, which can help to open up blood vessels and improve circulation. Antioxidants in turmeric oil prevent the buildup of plaque in arteries and protect blood vessels from cellular damage.
How to Use: Aromatherapy or Topical Application
As always, adding the turmeric oil to a diffuser can help you reap the heart health benefits of this oil. You can also rub the oil gently into skin above your heart. Remember to apply using carrier oil to avoid irritation.
8. Whitens Teeth
Turmeric is used widely in India and Asia to whiten teeth naturally. The antimicrobial properties support gum health and prevent the growth of bacteria that cause cavities and gingivitis. This oil also helps to control plaque that can build up over time without proper brushing or flossing.
How to Use: Tooth Whitening Paste or Oil Pull
Make a turmeric oil paste to whiten teeth naturally. Combine 3 drops of turmeric oil with half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and 3 drops coconut oil. Rub directly onto teeth and let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse well. You can also do oil pulling with turmeric oil to promote overall oral health. Add 4 drops turmeric oil to your mouth and swish constantly for 5 minutes.
Side Effects of Turmeric Essential Oil
Turmeric oil can cause side effects in certain individuals. These side effects typically only occur when used in high concentrations. Never use more than 10 drops of turmeric oil at any time.
Turmeric oil boasts skin health benefits, but can be irritating to people with sensitive skin. Always conduct a small patch test before applying liberally. Stop use immediately if you experience symptoms of red skin, rash, or hives. Never apply turmeric oil topically without carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil. Keep turmeric oil away from sensitive areas including the eyes, mouth, and nose.
Interactions With Medication
Like many naturally derived products, turmeric essential oil can interact with certain medications. This oil can help lower blood pressure and the effects can be dangerous when used in conjunction with blood pressure medications. Side effects can include confusion, dizziness, and fainting. Consult with your healthcare provider before using turmeric essential oil if you are taking any medications.
Research on the impact of turmeric oil in pregnancy is ongoing. Ask your doctor before using this oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Never use essential oils on children under 2 years of age. Infants can be prone to serious side effects of essential oils.
It Dyes Everything
You know all about the color staining effects of turmeric if you cook with this spice. The oil is also a deep yellow that can stain clothes and countertops. Always carefully apply the oil, making sure to avoid spilling drops on clothes or stainable surfaces.
Brighten Up Your Health With Turmeric
Turmeric is one of the most beloved natural remedies in Asia along with Indian saffron. The vivid yellow powder is a mainstay in foods as well as at religious ceremonies in India. Turmeric oil is just as potent as its powdery counterpart. Add to a diffuser or apply topically to skin to reap its health benefits.