Turmeric has long been used as a spice that adds flavor, color, and aroma to dishes in Southern Asia. Thanks to its medicinal properties, it also occupies pride of place in ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. In fact, you may already be using turmeric powder or tea as a natural home remedy for indigestion or pain. Take it up a notch by leveraging the benefits of another essential component of turmeric – its essential oil!
Turmeric essential oil is obtained through steam distillation of the rhizome and has compounds like ar-turmerone, α-turmerone, and β-turmerone which boost your health in many ways. It is readily available in aromatherapy or herbal remedy stores. So get a bottle of the good stuff and use it for the following benefits. Do note that while turmeric essential oil may have more benefits, we’ve only listed the ones backed by studies.
1. Fights Skin Infections Like Ringworm, Athlete’s Foot, And Jock Itch
Fungal skin infections like ringworm, athlete’s foot, or jock itch have plagued most of us at some point or the other. And turmeric oil might provide an easy cure for them. According to research, this oil can act against dermatophytes like Trichophyton rubrum which cause skin infection. One animal study found that when diluted turmeric oil was applied to areas with the fungal skin infection, lesions caused by the infection disappeared within a week.1 Simply dilute in a carrier oil and dab on affected areas for relief.
2. Tackles Cough And Asthma
Steam inhalations are generally useful for loosening mucus and clearing blocked airways. Want to amp up the power of your stem inhalation? Add a few drops of turmeric oil to it. Studies have found that inhaling the vapor of turmeric oil can remove sputum, reduce coughing, and ease asthma symptoms.2
3. Can Protect The Liver
Thanks to ar-turmerone, curlone, and ar-curcumene, turmeric oil has shown antioxidant activity in in vitro studies. It can scavenge free radicals and reduce cell damage. In an animal study, mice were given turmeric essential oil for one month. They showed increased levels of antioxidant and antioxidant enzymes in the blood and the liver, which could enhance detoxification of cancer-causing compounds.3 In another study, rats pre-treated with turmeric extract had less liver damage due to methotrexate, a drug used in chemotherapy and to treat autoimmune conditions.4
4. Can Fight Gum And Teeth Diseases
Turmeric oil can help prevent tooth decay as well. A study found that 100% concentrated turmeric oil can exert an antimicrobial effect on Porphyromonas gingivalis, the pathogenic bacteria that causes periodontitis, an inflammatory condition affecting the periodontal tissues that support the teeth, and eventually loss of teeth. Eucalyptus oil, however, is even more beneficial.5
Add a few drops of turmeric oil to your toothpaste or mouthwash to keep your teeth and gums disease-free.
5. Reduces Risk Of Cancer
That’s right, turmeric oil may be able to fight the big C. Studies have found that people with a condition known as oral submucous fibrosis showed fewer signs of developing cancer when they took turmeric oil. Oral submucous fibrosis is characterized by thickening and scarring (or fibrosis) of mucous membranes in the mouth. This condition also has a high chance of developing into cancer. But one study found that treatment with turmeric oil decreased a biomarker of oral cancer – the number of micronucleated cells – in people with oral submucous fibrosis, essentially reversing precancerous changes in them.6
Animal studies have also found that both ar-turmerone found in turmeric oil and curcumin, one of the main components in turmeric, may be effective at preventing colon cancer associated with inflammation.7
Turmeric essential oil has also been seen to act against mutagenic chemicals, which mutate DNA and may cause cancer, and carcinogens. It inhibits enzymes involved in the activation of carcinogens.8
6. Fights Neurological Diseases And Supports Cell Regeneration
Neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease can take quite a toll. Animal studies indicate that turmeric oil may support neural cell regeneration and help people suffering from these progressive conditions. How does turmeric oil work? Studies have found that ar-turmerone in turmeric essential oil inhibits microglia activation. Microglia, cells present in the central nervous system, function as immune cells. There is now a wealth of evidence that activated microglia are a source of multiple neurotoxic factors implicated in the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases.9
7. May Treat Epilepsy
Turmeric oil and its sesquiterpenoids have anticonvulsant properties. Animal studies show that ar-turmerone can modulate the expression patterns of two genes related to seizures. While it might still be too early to replace anticonvulsants and antiepileptic drugs with turmeric oil, early research indicates this oil could offer a ray of hope to people with epilepsy.10
8. Relieves Inflammation And Pain
Turmeric oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve pain. One animal study showed that when turmeric oil was injected into the abdomen of subjects, there was a significant reduction in swelling induced by chemical compounds. But that’s not all. Animal studies have also found that oral administration of turmeric oil can reduce pain considerably.11
For a topical remedy to reduce pain, dilute equal parts of essential oil in a carrier oil like almond or coconut and apply on the area. Oral ingestion is best discussed with an experienced herbal practitioner or doctor who can guide you on exact dosage.
9. Prevents Damage Due To Free Radicals
Turmeric oil has been found to raise the level of antioxidant enzymes in the serum and blood of mice. Antioxidants help counter the damaging effects of free radicals which are produced naturally during the process of oxidation in our bodies as well through exposure to external oxidant substances. Free radicals have been implicated not just in aging but also in many diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and cataract. But it may be possible to improve your body’s natural antioxidant defense by taking turmeric essential oil.12 While there aren’t exact quantities earmarked for use, a trained herbal doctor should be able to guide you.
10. Eases Joint Swelling In People With Arthritis
As we saw earlier turmeric oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Studies even show that it can inhibit joint inflammation.13 Aromatherapy experts also suggest that its anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal for an anti-arthritic massage.14 So getting a nice massage with turmeric essential oil may bring you relief if you have arthritis.
Early Studies Indicate Ingestion Of Turmeric Oil Is Safe, But Be Cautious
Centuries of use of turmeric powder as a spice vouch for its safety. But though turmeric oil is extracted from turmeric rhizomes, it’s not used as widely and, therefore, doesn’t have an established history of safe use. But one study that administered 0.6 ml of turmeric oil thrice a day for 1 month and then 1 ml of turmeric oil in 3 divided doses for 2 months found that there were no signs of clinical, renal, hematological, or hepatic toxicity in subjects.15
But since this is a concentrated form of the oil and one tested minimally in human studies, tread with caution while ingesting turmeric essential oil. Have it diluted with water or milk and let an expert ayurvedic or herbal practitioner guide you on dosage. Also, as a safety measure, do check with your doctor if you plan to consume turmeric essential oil regularly or for long periods of time.
|↑1||Apisariyakul, Amphawan, Nongnuch Vanittanakom, and Duang Buddhasukh. “Antifungal activity of turmeric oil extracted from Curcuma longa (Zingiberaceae).” Journal of ethnopharmacology 49, no. 3 (1995): 163-169.|
|↑2||Li, C., L. Li, J. Luo, and N. Huang. “Effect of turmeric volatile oil on the respiratory tract.” Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi= Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi= China journal of Chinese materia medica 23, no. 10 (1998): 624-5.|
|↑3||Liju, Vijayastelter B., Kottarapat Jeena, and Ramadasan Kuttan. “An evaluation of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive activities of essential oil from Curcuma longa. L.” Indian journal of pharmacology 43, no. 5 (2011): 526.|
|↑4||Moghadam, Adel Rezaei, Soheil Tutunchi, Ali Namvaran-Abbas-Abad, Mina Yazdi, Fatemeh Bonyadi, Daryoush Mohajeri, Mohammad Mazani, Hassan Marzban, Marek J. Łos, and Saeid Ghavami. “Pre-administration of turmeric prevents methotrexate-induced liver toxicity and oxidative stress.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 15, no. 1 (2015): 246.|
|↑5||Hans, Veenu Madaan, Harpreet Singh Grover, Himanshu Deswal, and Preeti Agarwal. “Antimicrobial efficacy of various essential oils at varying concentrations against periopathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR 10, no. 9 (2016): ZC16.|
|↑6||Hastak, K., N. Lubri, S. D. Jakhi, C. More, A. John, S. D. Ghaisas, and S. V. Bhide. “Effect of turmeric oil and turmeric oleoresin on cytogenetic damage in patients suffering from oral submucous fibrosis.” Cancer letters 116, no. 2 (1997): 265-269.|
|↑7||Murakami, Akira, Ikuyo Furukawa, Shingo Miyamoto, Takuji Tanaka, and Hajime Ohigashi. “Curcumin combined with turmerones, essential oil components of turmeric, abolishes inflammation‐associated mouse colon carcinogenesis.” Biofactors 39, no. 2 (2013): 221-232.|
|↑8||Liju, Vijayasteltar Belsamma, Kottarapat Jeena, and Ramadasan Kuttan. “Chemopreventive activity of turmeric essential oil and possible mechanisms of action.” Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 15, no. 16 (2014): 6575-6580.|
|↑9||Hucklenbroich, Joerg, Rebecca Klein, Bernd Neumaier, Rudolf Graf, Gereon Rudolf Fink, Michael Schroeter, and Maria Adele Rueger. “Aromatic-turmerone induces neural stem cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo.” Stem cell research & therapy 5, no. 4 (2014): 100.|
|↑10||Orellana-Paucar, Adriana Monserrath, Tatiana Afrikanova, Joice Thomas, Yelaman K. Aibuldinov, Wim Dehaen, Peter AM de Witte, and Camila V. Esguerra. “Insights from zebrafish and mouse models on the activity and safety of ar-turmerone as a potential drug candidate for the treatment of epilepsy.” PLoS One 8, no. 12 (2013): e81634.|
|↑11, ↑12||Liju, Vijayastelter B., Kottarapat Jeena, and Ramadasan Kuttan. “An evaluation of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive activities of essential oil from Curcuma longa. L.” Indian journal of pharmacology 43, no. 5 (2011): 526.|
|↑13||Funk, Janet L., Jennifer B. Frye, Janice N. Oyarzo, Huaping Zhang, and Barbara N. Timmermann. “Anti-arthritic effects and toxicity of the essential oils of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.).” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 58, no. 2 (2009): 842-849.|
|↑14||Martin, Ingrid. Aromatherapy for massage practitioners. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006.|
|↑15||Joshi, Jayashree, Sadhana Ghaisas, Ashok Vaidya, Rama Vaidya, D. V. Kamat, A. N. Bhagwat, and Sumati Bhide. “Early human safety study of turmeric oil (Curcuma longa oil) administered orally in healthy volunteers.” JOURNAL-ASSOCIATION OF PHYSICIANS OF INDIA 51 (2003): 1055-1060.|