Turmeric for Menopause: Can This Herbal Remedy Help?
“Turmeric and Menopause” was written by soon-to-be-Registered Dietitian Nina Deuschle. Edited by Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, RDN.
Menopause comes with a set of symptoms that you probably haven’t experienced before. While some women would describe their symptoms as mild, others have a harder time managing the changes they are going through.
You may already be aware of some of the traditional approaches to addressing the issues that come with menopause. But have you heard about the alternative and complementary medicines that are available?
Just a few of the alternative and complementary medicines used to address menopause symptoms include yoga, acupuncture, and hypnosis. Plant estrogens and using supplements are also both common.
As for herbal remedies, some are safer and more well-researched than others. Turmeric is among the group with proven benefits.
Turmeric as an Herbal Remedy
This herbal remedy has been studied for some time now and consumed for many years. Not only is it generally safe to consume, but it’s also delicious and mild in flavor. What’s more, it may be effective in relieving some of the problems that you’re experiencing in menopause.
What is Turmeric?
Also known as Indian saffron and golden spice, it comes from the curcuma longa plant that grows in parts of Central America and Asia.
In your grocery store is easy to find ground turmeric from the root of the plant. It has a distinct yellow color that adds brightness to food and beverages.
You can also find it fresh in some stores. It looks a lot like ginger root and has a slightly peppery, earthy taste.
Turmeric is most commonly used in Indian curries. But it’s also an ingredient in Chinese and Thai dishes. You may even have had it in yellow mustard or Caesar salad dressing.
How is Turmeric Used?
In Ayurvedic medicine – a traditional medicine system native to India – turmeric has been used for thousands of years to address many ailments and conditions. Among them are joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
It has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Our Western medical community has started studying this spice for its potential healing properties.
More recently, it has become available in capsule form, extracts, and beverages in the United States.
What are Some of the Properties of Turmeric?
Curcumin is the name of the active ingredient found in turmeric. This is the component of the spice that provides its vibrant color.
While curcumin is still being studied, a few important qualities have been discovered so far. These include its antioxidants and ability to reduce inflammation.
Turmeric for Menopause: How Can it Help with Symptom Management?
Help in Reducing Hot Flashes
For many, hot flashes are the most bothersome part of menopause. Adding this spice to your diet might be able to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
A study found that curcumin helped to reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women.
The study participants took curcumin capsules for eight weeks and experienced a decrease in the number of hot flashes per day, as well as their severity.
Turmeric and Weight Loss
A review of multiple studies showed that curcumin intake was linked to reduced weight, BMI, and waist circumference in 1,600 people.
This may be attributed to curcumin’s inflammation-reducing properties.
More human studies are needed, however, before turmeric can definitively be recommended for weight loss.
Potential to Reduce Inflammation
Joint pain and stiffness are common symptoms of menopause. This is because of the reduction in estrogen levels.
Turmeric has been shown to help lessen inflammation that may be contributing to some of your pain. It has even been cited by the Arthritis Foundation as potentially providing some relief to people with arthritis.
Turmeric and Gut Health
Research has suggested that this is one of the spices can benefit the bacteria found in the gut. For more information related to menopause and gut health, take a look at this comprehensive article.
Turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it beneficial for digestion. It’s currently being studied as a potential treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Be careful when using it in supplements, though, because if taken in large doses, they can cause stomach upset. Obviously, this is the opposite effect that you’re looking for!
Start slowly when adding turmeric to food and beverages, noting how your body reacts, especially if you’re prone to stomach upset.
Fighting Free Radicals
The antioxidant properties of turmeric give it the potential to fight free radicals. What does this mean? Free radicals contribute to the development of illnesses and to the aging process.
By maintaining your baseline health throughout menopause, your overall experience can be smoother and more comfortable.
Effect of Turmeric on Circulation
The functioning of blood vessels can decline as we age, and this process is associated with heart disease risk. When paired with regular exercise, a study showed that turmeric improved the integrity of blood vessels.
Turmeric and Memory
A clinical trial showed that curcumin improved memory in adults who did not have dementia. This could be attributed to its ability to lower inflammation in the brain.
Mood changes, depression, and anxiety are symptoms of menopause experienced by many women. Specifically, curcumin may be able to increase levels of chemicals in the brain that help fight depression.
Easy Ways to Add Turmeric to Your Diet
When it comes to adding turmeric into your food and beverages, it couldn’t be simpler. It’s also easy to find in most grocery stores.
You will find that it has a mild, warm flavor. If you’ve ever enjoyed Indian, Persian, or Indonesian food, then you have likely tried turmeric!
Fresh, Dried, or Ground
You have a few options when buying turmeric. It’s sold in fresh form, in whole dried pieces, and as a ground spice. The fresh root looks a bit like dark ginger and has a slightly bolder flavor than dried and ground types.
Dried turmeric is sold at many specialty grocery stores, while the ground version is the most widely sold and easily purchased. When making substitutions for fresh and ground turmeric, follow this simple guideline:
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric = 1 tablespoon of grated fresh
Ideas for Using Turmeric in Food
If you aren’t familiar with it and want to start getting used to the flavor, you can start by using curry powder.
Curry powder typically also contains coriander, fenugreek, and onion. It’s a delicious spice mixture that you can add to stir-fries, chicken dishes, and stews.
Add to Vegetables
Are you ready to jump right into making recipes using turmeric? One of the easiest ways to start is by sprinkling a couple of teaspoons on vegetables that you are going to roast in the oven.
Check out this recipe for turmeric roasted root vegetables.
This works especially well with veggies like cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and onions.
Add to Drinks
Turmeric is also a great addition to drinks. All too often, we reach that afternoon slump and might want to reach for a caffeinated beverage. If this is you, try turmeric tea instead.
If you want something quick, you can buy the tea, or it even makes a delicious drink when you add it to normal tea
Pro tip: The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is vastly easier for our bodies to absorb when we include a little freshly ground black pepper in whatever we eat or drink. You just need a pinch, so if you don’t love black pepper, you don’t have to worry that it will overpower your recipe.
More Tasty Ideas for Enjoying Turmeric:
- Mix a teaspoon into your morning oatmeal
- Use in homemade vinaigrettes
- Make a batch of roasted chickpeas spiced with curry powder (or ground turmeric, cumin, and chili flakes) for a healthy snack
- Add a teaspoon to your next smoothie
- Add to rice
- Drink golden milk
- Stir into stews and soups
- Blend it into smoothies
- Sprinkle it onto scrambled eggs
- Add to muffins
Can Everyone Use Turmeric?
Turmeric is considered safe to consume for the general population. However, it should not be taken in excess by people on Coumadin because it has the same blood-thinning properties.
The Bottom Line
Turmeric is an herb that has been used and enjoyed for thousands of years. Beyond its comforting and delicious taste, it comes with a host of potential health benefits.
Remember to talk with your healthcare provider about any form of complementary medicine that you would like to try. Make informed decisions together!
Do you have any favorite ways that you incorporate turmeric into your routine? Leave us a comment to share your ideas.
Ataei-Almanghadim K, Farshbaf-Khalili A, Ostadrahimi AR, Shaseb E, Mirghafourvand M. The effect of oral capsule of curcumin and vitamin E on the hot flashes and anxiety in postmenopausal women: A triple blind randomised controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2020;48:102267. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102267
Akazawa N, Choi Y, & Zempo-Miyaki A, Tanabe Y, Sugawara J, Ajisaka R, Maeda S. Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women. Nutrition Research. 2012;32(10):795-9. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2012.09.002
Akbari M, Lankarani KB, Tabrizi R, et al. The effects of curcumin on weight loss among patients with metabolic syndrome and related disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2019;10. doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.00649.
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Raman R. Does turmeric help you lose weight? Healthline. healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-benefits-weight-loss#effects-on-weight. 2020. Accessed June 17, 2022.
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7 Health benefits of turmeric. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/turmeric-health-benefits/. 2021. Accessed Jun 16, 2022.
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL. She is passionate about helping women over 40 live their best lives through healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. Su-Nui is a doctor in clinical nutrition, able to translate complicated evidence-based science into practical advice. Su-Nui’s charisma and warmth have made her a frequent guest on Hispanic popular morning television shows.