- Research suggests that curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.
- Because curcumin has been seen to play a role in decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation as well as improving the function of blood vessels, it is thought that it may also have a beneficial effect on blood pressure.
- Current evidence of the direct effect of curcumin on blood pressure is mixed and more high quality research is needed to confirm a link between the two.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family, native to southeast Asia but primarily India.
It is a deep, golden-orange spice known for adding color, flavor and nutrition to meals. It’s the spice that gives curry its yellow color.
But beyond this, turmeric has a history rooted in ancient Ayurvedic medicine and has been used in India for thousands of years as both a spice and medicinal herb.
Turmeric is increasingly being included in health supplements and tonics, as it is thought to possess various health benefits.
For health purposes, the most widely-used part of the turmeric plant is its root. The root contains vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. One of these phytonutrients is curcumin, which is the main active ingredient in turmeric.
Curcumin has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and is thought to be the main source of the health benefits of turmeric.
Research shows that curcumin:
- Reduces inflammation (Source)
- May provide antioxidant effects (Source)
- May support brain health (Source)
- May promote joint health (Source)
- May support heart health (Source)
- May improve gut health (Source)
And curcumin may also play a role in reducing blood pressure.
Turmeric can be consumed in various forms, such as in capsules, tinctures, powders, juices or the root itself.
What Is Hypertension?
It is estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. And it is predicted that by 2025, this number will reach 1.56 billion! (Source)
Blood pressure is a measure of the amount of work your heart must do to pump blood around the body. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your blood pressure is consistently higher than it should be. The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of heart attack or stroke.
There are certain risk factors that may increase your odds of developing hypertension.
These include: (Source)
- High sodium intake
- Low potassium intake
- Alcohol consumption
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy diet
By being aware of these risk factors, we can modify our behaviors to reduce our risk of developing high blood pressure.
Can Turmeric Lower Blood Pressure?
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been thought to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure due to its ability to:
Decrease Oxidative Stress And Inflammation
Both oxidative stress and inflammation play key roles in the development of hypertension. (Source)
Improve The Function Of The Endothelium
Our endothelium is the lining of our blood vessels and if this isn’t functioning well, our blood vessels can’t regulate our blood pressure. (Source)
However, the evidence of the direct effect of curcumin on blood pressure is mixed.
A meta-analysis of 11 studies investigating the effect of curcumin supplementation on blood pressure levels suggested that curcumin supplementation may have a beneficial effect on systolic blood pressure when consumed for 12 weeks or longer. (Source)
Although the reduction in systolic blood pressure observed was modest, the patients studied did not have very high blood pressure to begin with. More trials on hypertensive participants are needed.
In another meta-analysis of 7 studies, curcumin showed a small but insignificant improvement in blood pressure. It is thought the inconsistency in results may be due to different doses of curcumin being used across studies, the small number of participants included in each study and the small number of studies carried out.
While the evidence does show promise, more research is needed to confirm the effects of curcumin on blood pressure.
How To Take Turmeric For Blood Pressure?
Even though research investigating the effect of curcumin on blood pressure is scant, several studies suggest that curcumin can lead to improvements in cardiovascular health. (Source)
But how is curcumin taken?
The curcumin content of regular turmeric powder isn’t that high – around 3% – meaning it would be very difficult to consume beneficial levels of curcumin just by using turmeric as a spice in your foods. (Source)
This is why people often opt for turmeric supplements instead, such as Human Tonik’s Red Tonik powder.
Yet even in supplements, curcumin has low bioavailability, meaning it is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. (Source)
The effectiveness of a turmeric supplement depends on the form of turmeric and any ingredients it might be paired with to enhance absorption. It can help to consume turmeric supplements with black pepper, which contains piperine. Piperine is another phytonutrient that enhances the absorption of curcumin. (Source)
It might also help to take curcumin supplements with a high fat meal as curcumin is fat soluble, meaning it breaks down in fat or oil.
How Much Turmeric Should I Take?
When it comes to blood pressure, it is hard to know what is the best dosage and duration of supplementation because the research just isn’t there.
Most turmeric studies use doses of 500-2,000 mg of turmeric per day, typically as an extract with a high curcumin concentration and commonly combined with piperine to increase bioavailability.
However, high doses of turmeric and curcumin are not recommended long-term as research relating to their safety is lacking.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 1.4 mg of curcumin per pound (0–3 mg per kilogram) of body weight is an acceptable daily intake. (Source)
One of the meta-analyses that looked at curcumin and blood pressure suggested supplementing with curcumin for 12 weeks or more in order to experience an effect on blood pressure. (Source)
Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regime. They will be able to offer guidance on the most suitable dose for you.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been linked with a variety of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.
Although research investigating the effect of curcumin on blood pressure is lacking, the research that has been done shows promise. However, further high quality research in this area is needed.
Nonetheless, several studies suggest that curcumin may have beneficial effects on various aspects of cardiovascular health.
One meta-analysis suggested supplementing with curcumin for 12 weeks or longer in order to experience any effect on blood pressure. However, further research is needed to confirm this.
Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regime. They will be able to offer guidance on the most suitable dose, and length of time of supplementation, for you.
Human Tonik’s Red Tonik provides 500mg of turmeric root extract in each serving, making it a quick and easy way to supplement with turmeric as well as other ingredients that have been linked to cardiovascular health, such as beets and grape seed extract.
Lucy Brennan is a registered associate nutritionist (ANutr) and freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition and wellness content. She holds a BSc. (First Class Hons) in Public Health Nutrition and has over 4 years’ experience working in health communication, which is where her passion lies.
She has worked in roles with The Irish Food Board and FleishmanHillard PR, on their healthcare team, working with national and international health companies. Using this experience, Lucy now writes content in a freelance capacity. Lucy is dedicated to providing evidence-based content that is both engaging and accessible and inspires readers to make informed choices regarding their health.