Turmeric is a common spice that comes from the root of Curcuma longa. It contains a chemical called curcumin, which might reduce swelling.
Turmeric has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. Because curcumin and other chemicals in turmeric might decrease swelling, it is often used to treat conditions that involve pain and inflammation.
People commonly use turmeric for osteoarthritis. It is also used for hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, a type of liver disease, and itching, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses. There is also no good evidence to support using turmeric for COVID-19.
Don't confuse turmeric with Javanese turmeric root or tree turmeric. Also, don't confuse it with zedoary or goldenseal, which are unrelated plants that are sometimes called turmeric.
Possibly Effective for
Hay fever. Taking turmeric by mouth seems to reduce hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestion.
Depression. Most research shows that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, by mouth reduces depression symptoms in people already using an antidepressant.
High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Taking turmeric by mouth seems to lower levels of blood fats called triglycerides. But the effects of turmeric on cholesterol levels are conflicting. Also, there are many different turmeric products available. It is not known which ones work best.
Buildup of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Taking turmeric extract by mouth reduces markers of liver injury in people who have this condition. It also seems to help prevent the build-up of more fat in the liver.
Osteoarthritis. Taking turmeric extracts, alone or together with other herbal ingredients, can reduce pain and improve function in people with knee osteoarthritis. Turmeric might work about as well as ibuprofen for reducing pain. But it doesn't seem to work as well as another drug, called diclofenac.
Itching. Taking turmeric by mouth might reduce itching that is caused by various conditions.
Possibly Ineffective for
Alzheimer disease. Taking turmeric, or a chemical in turmeric called curcumin, by mouth does not seem to improve symptoms of Alzheimer disease.
Stomach ulcers. Taking turmeric by mouth does not seem to improve stomach ulcers.
There is interest in using turmeric for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.