Turmeric essential oil benefits are profound. This ancient spice has been used for thousands of years for healing and we are literally just now discovering the wide spectrum of health benefits of this amazing oil.
Table of Contents
One Plant, Two Extraction Methods
Turmeric spice has long been used in Eastern cooking and has historically played a prominent role in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and traditional home treatments. As millions of consumers use it for everything from pain to mental health (it is being touted as the most versatile natural remedy in the world next to CBD oil), the demand for stronger, more medicinal grades of turmeric has reached the marketplace. Enter turmeric essential oil and CO2 extract.
The most potent and bioavailable (i.e. ability of the body to absorb and assimilate chemicals and nutrients) forms of turmeric available in the world, as the demand for turmeric CO2 extract and essential oil increases, the need for researchers to substantiate their potential therapeutic efficacy has reached an all-time high.
The proven benefits turmeric can have on your body have been heralded by experts across the globe as “the most effective nutritional supplement in existence.” (1) Thousands upon thousands of research studies exist evaluating the therapeutic efficacy of turmeric (and its primary healing component curcumin – the orange/yellow compound that colors mustard and curry) showing it has potent anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and immune-stimulating properties to name a few. It benefits your brain, heart, immune system and everything in between!
Though, not all of the research on turmeric and curcumin is applicable to the essential oil, and it all starts with how the plant has been extracted There are several processes used to extract essential oils from plants, and turmeric is one of a many plants that will derive very different products, depending on the process chosen.
Turmeric Essential Oil
Derived from the Curcuma longa plant, which comes from the Zingiberaceae family – the same as ginger, turmeric essential oil can be extracted is through traditional steam distillation, which loosens up the essential oils from the plant along with plant components. This is commonly done with the turmeric plant’s rhizome (2), the underground stem of the plant that sends out roots and shoots.
It is important to note the curcumin has not been reported in turmeric essential as it has with oleoresin & CO2 extracts.
Turmeric CO2 Extract
Another extraction method requires a solvent to “dissolve” the different compounds and components of the plant. CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide as a nontoxic solvent to extract the oil. The CO2 completely returns to a gaseous state, leaving no traces behind, unlike other, less eco-friendly solvents.
The end result? Two very different products! The CO2 extraction contains curcumin as one of its major components, a widely researched compound with a long list of health benefits and also contains turmerones. The steam distilled essential oil, on the other hand, does not contain curcumin (3). Instead, turmerones are its major components and are the cause of the distinctive spicy aroma of many turmeric products.
It’s important to know which version you are purchasing, however, the CO2 extract is what most companies sell under the generic term “turmeric essential oil.” If you are ever in doubt, turmeric oil that is yellow in color comes from the CO2 extract – curcumin gives both the spice and the oil its bright pigmentation!
Turmeric Essential Oil Compounds
As mentioned above, turmeric essential oil is predominantly derived from the rhizome and roots of the turmeric plant, although sometimes its leaves flowers are used as well.
The major constituents of this essential oil include the following: (source)
ar-Turmerone, has been shown to have powerful cardiovascular effects (antiplatelet aggregation and hypoglycemic activity), as well as antimutagenic properties and anti-carcinogenic properties. (source)
However, it’s important to note that these are just a handful of the constituents in turmeric essential oil. Turmeric oils and extractions have been found (4) to contain up to over 50 different components!
There is no doubt that the synergy between all these compounds contributes to its awesome healing potential.
10 Turmeric Essential Oil Uses
Turmeric oil is safe to be used via inhalation, topically and ingestion if dosed and diluted properly. Try some of the recommendations below and be sure to consult with your physician if you’re being treated for a medical condition or are currently taking pharmaceuticals.
1. CANCER-FIGHTING PROPERTIES
One of the most promising areas of research for turmeric oil is in the field of cancer prevention and management. Traditional treatments for cancer can have very damaging side effects to your overall health that make the process difficult and exhausting.
However, adding a holistic component, such as essential oils, to your treatment plan may ease or reduce symptoms, and can alleviate the stress of your healing journey.
Compounds in turmeric oil have been shown to impact cancer. Current laboratory research performed on cells or on animals demonstrate the following benefits of turmeric oil for cancer:
- Curcumin and turmerones inhibited (5) the spread of breast cancer cells.
- Additionally, the turmerones in this study were shown to have “immunostimulating effects,” that is, they kickstarted the immune system into action.
- Turmeric oil (6) killed pancreatic cancer cells.
- Ar-turmeric, one of the turmerone compounds, induced cell death in two separate human leukemia (7) cell lines. Turmeric oil has been tested (8) on other leukemia cell lines as well with similar results.
- Turmeric essential oil demonstrated anticarcinogenic effects in a 2014 study (9). It also displayed antimutagenic effects, meaning it might help prevent cells from mutating into a more serious problem.
These demonstrate the ancient healing potential of this turmeric essential oil for treating cancer and relieving treatment symptoms.
Application: Add 1-2 drops of turmeric essential oil to your curries, soups, stir-frys, stews, and other entrees to enjoy a safe,culinary dose. Be sure to discuss different methods of adding this oil to your treatment plan with your doctor.
2. PROTECTS BRAIN CELLS
Neurological diseases impact (10) over 100 million Americans every year and costs are expected to skyrocket to $600 million by 2030 for dementia and stroke. The potent medications that are used to treat these diseases are difficult to manage if a patient has multiple conditions and some have devastating side effects. And for some conditions, like Alzheimer’s, there is currently no cure available at all.
Fortunately, research is looking to turmeric essential oil for its promise in healing and preventing neurological disorders. In the lab, one study (11) of turmerone suggested that inhaling it could help regenerate stem cells in the brain. This is exciting news! And scientists (12) from China and the U.S. also demonstrated that this compound may reduce neuroinflammation and the memory impairment it can cause.
Researchers (13) have also been examining the impact of turmeric extracts on Alzheimer’s disease. Current science suggests that plaque buildup on the brain caused by amino acids likely contributes to this disease. Turmeric oil extracts were shown to inhibit the buildup of these amino acids.
More research is needed, but the neuroprotective qualities of turmeric essential oil on the brain make it an important tool that may be able to help you stave off brain deterioration and damage caused by neurodegenerative diseases – or even prevent them!
3. FIGHTS PAIN AND INFLAMMATION
A little pain is not always a bad thing. Inflammation causes pain but it’s part of your body’s normal, healing response to injury and other harmful agents. That said, prolonged inflammation can lead to chronic pain, disorders, and even serious diseases. When inflammation doesn’t heal, turmeric essential oil can be a powerful ally to alleviate your pain.
Arthritis is one such disease. It has numerous causes and encompasses over a hundred diseases but they all have one thing in common: inflammation that causes pain. This occurs in joints and bones as well as the tissues that surround them. The most common forms are:
- Osteoarthritis, which is caused by aging or physical wear and tear on the bones over time, and
- Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease.
While the root cause of your inflammation should be addressed with your healthcare provider, turmeric essential oil may be able to ease your symptoms.
Research (14) from 2011 shows that turmerones are more effective in reducing certain types of inflammation in cells while curcumin inhibits other types of inflammation. Another study (15) from 2006 demonstrated that curcumin from turmeric extract prevented experiential rheumatoid arthritis in mice.
It’s also been demonstrated that high doses of turmeric essential oil had an anti-inflammatory effect on joints when tested on rats. This suggests that this oil may be helpful for arthritis, however, more research is needed.
However, for continued pain, it can’t hurt to add turmeric essential oil to your routine to get some much-needed relief!
Application: Make a homemade pain relief cream by adding 12 drops of turmeric to 1 ounce of Mama Z’s DIY Salve Base & Lotion Bar Recipe.
4. POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT CAPABILITIES
Over time, our bodies are exposed to a host of natural – and unnatural – compounds, chemicals, and toxins. These are called free radicals, and they increase oxidative stress. This can damage different cells that are overexposed to it, leading to disease and the ravages of aging.
Antioxidants, on the other hand, are chemicals that help prevent free radicals from causing too much damage. These compounds, found in many essential oils, serve many functions and are necessary for your body’s optimal well-being.
Turmeric is an oil that is widely known for its antioxidant abilities. In lab studies, turmeric oil (17) appeared to remove free radicals that cause oxidative stress. It was also shown (18) to reduce certain types of oxidative stress that are responsible for causing high cholesterol. A healthy diet and regimen full of antioxidants is a recipe for anti-aging and good health!
Application: Take advantage of the antioxidants in turmeric oil by consuming 2-3 drops of turmeric in a gel capsule filled with olive oil once daily during cold/flu season. Be sure to discuss adding this oil to your treatment plan if you’re currently being treated for a disease by a doctor.
5. ANTIMICROBIAL BENEFITS – FUNGUS AND BACTERIA
Turmeric essential oil is also useful for killing fungal and bacterial pathogens. Candida albicans is a type of fungal yeast infection that is very difficult to fight – ask anyone who’s dealt with it!
Candida overgrowth wreaks havoc in the gastrointestinal tract, causing an imbalance in bacteria in the gut. It’s been linked to chronic fatigue, sinus allergies, bloating, constipation, eczema, and more! It is particularly harmful to people who are immunocompromised and is a common infection for those in treatment for cancer or HIV.
Researchers (19) tested the impact of turmeric essential oil on candida cells and found that it was twice as powerful as the commonly prescribed antifungal medication, Nystatin, to combat this fungus. Other studies (20) have shown that it can combat other forms of bacteria, making this an effective and useful oil for both clearing the gut and adding to your homemade cleaning formulas!
Turmeric essential oil was also one of four oils tested (21) for its efficacy in combating the P. Gingivalis bacteria, which primarily lives in the oral cavity and may cause certain periodontal diseases. All the oils tested were effective in combating this bacteria, including turmeric.
If you are battling candida overgrowth, a clean eating regimen along with adding turmeric oil to your culinary dishes can help. Check out our book, The Essential Oil Diet Book, to discover a sustainable way to enjoy food while living your healthiest life ever!
Application: Try adding a drop of turmeric to your oil pulling routine if you are fighting gingivitis or to promote oral health.
6. USE TURMERIC OIL TO HELP MANAGE OR PREVENT DIABETES
Diabetes requires a change in eating habits, however, using essential oils for diabetes can be a healthy part of combating – or preventing – this disease. In the lab, food scientists studied (22) turmeric essential oil and found that it inhibited important enzymes that are linked to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Animal research (23) from 2006 also showed that the compounds in both turmeric essential oil and the CO2 extract may be able to reduce blood sugars in rats, particularly curcumin. Additionally, turmeric oil without curcumin and turmeric oleoresin inhibited abdominal fat in the subjects. This does not replace the benefits of a healthy diet low in sugar along with regular exercise but it can assist you in healing your body.
Application: Add 1-2 drops of turmeric essential oil to your favorite dishes to enjoy a safe, culinary dose. Be sure to discuss different methods of adding this oil to your treatment plan with your doctor.
7. POTENTIAL ANTI-SEIZURE APPLICATIONS
According to the CDC, epilepsy (24) is common and it’s more frequently seen in children than adults. All seizure disorders are life-threatening and are usually treated with medication. Unfortunately, finding the right medication and dosage is tricky, and side effects can have a heavy impact on patients.
In fact, some 30% of epilepsy patients don’t respond to treatment. That is why in 2013, scientists (25) researched one of the components of turmeric oil, ar-turmerone, as a potential future drug candidate to treat epilepsy by testing it on zebrafish and mice embryos. Their results indicate that ar-turmerone is a safe candidate as a drug for some forms of epilepsy.
Hopefully, research will develop proven solutions for epilepsy with turmeric oil but for now, you can use this amazing elixir in your home to discover its benefits.
8. AIDE FOR GASTROINTESTINAL HEALTH
Turmeric essential oil might also have protective benefits for digestive health. A 2014 study (26) compared turmeric and ginger essential oils for inhibiting ulcers in rats. The animals were given different doses of each oil in different groups. Both oils appeared to inhibit ulcers by over 80%! They also reduced lesions and stomach injuries.
Turmeric root extract has been shown to improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Scientists (27) randomly tested 207 otherwise healthy adults before and after treatment with the extract and surveyed the subjects. About two-thirds of the subjects reported improvements in symptoms after the treatment, including pain and discomfort demonstrating that turmeric oil may be beneficial in addressing IBS.
Application: Consume 2-3 drops of turmeric in a gel capsule filled with olive oil once daily for 3-4 weeks and monitor symptoms. Be sure to discuss adding this oil to your treatment plan if you’re currently being treated for a disease by a doctor.
9. SAFE FOR BACKYARD GARDENING
Is turmeric essential oil a safe tool to use in your backyard garden? Research shows that you can! Food scientists in China studied (28) the benefits of turmeric essential oil in combating Aspergillus flavus, a fungus known for harming maize, grains, and legumes, and found it to be both effective and eco-friendly.
Turmeric essential oil, along with ginger oil, was also found (29) to be to useful as an herbicide on maize plants. Turmeric was most effective after the weeds started to emerge and caused no damage to the crops. Learn more about organic backyard gardening from Mama Z!
Application: Add 20-30 drops of turmeric oil to 16 oz of your natural weed killer recipes.
10. BUG REPELLENT
Many essential oils have been studied (30) for their effectiveness as a bug repellant. Turmeric essential oil and CO2 extract are both safer choices for bug repellent than most brand name pesticides, which commonly contain malathion, DEET, and permethrin. All these chemicals are linked to a variety of health concerns and you’d be wise to avoid them.
In fact, essential oils can work even better than these harmful products, including turmeric! Research showed that it was more effective (31) than DEET for reducing mosquito bites and killing mosquito larvae. Essential oils are an excellent choice to keep your family safe from warm-weather outdoor pests.
Application: Add 10 drops of turmeric oil per 1 ounce of your favorite DIY bug repellent recipes.
Turmeric Oil and Safety
Yes, as seen in the recommendations above, turmeric oil is safe to consume.
One of the peer-reviewed studies (16) done on inflammation and arthritis raised concerns about the toxicity of ingesting turmeric essential oil because it proved fatal to mice that were given very high doses. However, this conflicts with another animal study (32) performed in 2013 that showed no toxicity from the oil.
In earlier research (33) from India, nine healthy volunteers were given 0.6ml of turmeric essential oil three times a day for one month and 1ml/day divided into 3 doses for the following two months. While two subjects had a mild reaction, this dose of turmeric oil had no effect on weight, blood pressure, or symptoms of the subjects for up to 12 weeks, and no additional toxicity at three months. This size of the study, however, is far too small to be conclusive.
Turmeric essential oil has powerful benefits but there are some common-sense precautions you should take when using this essential oil, including:
- At present, there is no clinically safe level of dosage for children, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot give it to them. Start off small and in “culinary doses” – no more than 1 drop per dish. Also safe to use in your diffuser and topical applications (1% or less for children).
- Don’t consume straight out of the bottle, and don’t drink with water (remember oil and water do not mix).
- Try adding in some turmeric essential oil in your food (culinary doses), replace 1 teaspoon turmeric spice with 1-2 drops of essential oils in your curries and favorite recipes.
- Consume safely by adding 2-3 drops of turmeric essential oil into a veggie gel capsule, and fill capsule with olive oil. Consume with food.
- Do not stay on turmeric oil for an extended length of time. Ideally, you should rotate your oils every few weeks.
- Stop using it immediately if you experience any side effects.
- Use with caution if you take medications, especially aspirin, warfarin, or other blood thinners. Turmeric oil can also interact with anti-inflammatory drugs. Check with your healthcare provider first.
Learn more about all of the important side effects of turmeric spice.
Turmeric essential oil abounds in health and wellness applications, and in keeping your home and body fungus-free. It blends well with citrus oils, as well as ginger essential oil – not surprising since they share the same family!
With such a great number of wonderful healing properties, don’t miss out on this lesser-known oil. It’s a great addition to your home, even if you regularly cook with turmeric spice!