Turmeric Essential Oil
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a remedial plant and product of the Zingiberaceae family. It is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, which has been relied on as a therapeutic plant for thousands of years.1 To date, approximately 133 species of Curcuma have been discovered around the globe.2 Extensively used as a spice, turmeric is native to tropical South Asia.
The first documented use of turmeric essential oil dates back to India’s Vedic culture, some 4,000 years ago. Called “manjal” by people in the South and referred to as “haldi” in North India, the therapeutic plant has more than 53 names in Sanskrit.2 The essential oil that is extracted from this ‘golden goddess’ of herbal plants is being acknowledged in modern science for its effectiveness in comparison with alternative pharmaceutical medicines.3
Turmeric Essential Oil Uses
Turmeric essential oil is favored for external preparations such as therapeutic ointments or bath additives.3 For everyday use, turmeric essential oil has a variety of unique and surprising uses, the most common are listed below.
Turmeric essential oil contains many different compounds beneficial for skin, especially for clogged pores and oily skin. Turmeric essential oil may help improve complexion when the free radicals on the skin react with the oil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
To create a natural skin care cream, add 3-5 drops of turmeric essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil, such as coconut, sweet almond or jojoba.
Turmeric essential oil has balancing and stimulating properties, making it perfect for relaxation. Add 2-4 drops to a diffuser or nebulizer and let the aroma fill the room.
As an aromatic substance, turmeric essential oil’s spicy fragrance is perfect for making natural perfume. Create an energizing perfume by mixing 30-50 drops of turmeric, 2-10 drops of a base note (such as frankincense, myrrh or sandalwood) and 2-10 drops of a floral, or minty top note (like cedarwood, orange or spearmint). Preserve the fragrance by storing the solution in a dark-colored bottle.
Alternatively, add 5-10 drops of turmeric essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil and apply to your inner wrists and upper neck.
Reported to help users feel energized and stimulated, add 5-10 drops of turmeric essential oil to a hot bath for an invigorating experience. Alternatively, mix 5-10 drops of turmeric essential oil with ½ cup of Epsom salt to create a natural bath salt.
Using a spoon, blend 1 Tsp. each of turmeric essential oil, natural yogurt and raw honey. Beginning at your forehead, apply the mixture over the entire face with a clean makeup brush and let sit for 20 minutes. Once the mask is dry, wash it off with clean, warm water. Skin will be appear soothed and users may notice an enhanced overall tone as turmeric essential oil may help to shield the skin from the breakdown of elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid.4
Benefits of Turmeric Essential Oil
Regarded as an important herb in both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, turmeric essential oil has received increased scientific attention in recent years. With reported antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and natural insecticide properties, below, we break down the latest research on this multifaceted essential oil.
In a 2011 clinical study, turmeric essential oil was evaluated for its antifungal properties against Aspergillus flavus, a pathogen found in soil, grain, peanuts and corn.5,6 The fungus also produces secondary substances called aflatoxins which are carcinogenic and highly toxic to animals. In humans, A. flavus has been associated with respiratory infections, wound infections and cornea inflammation.6
Results indicate that when concentrated at 1.0% and 1.5%, turmeric essential oil inhabited aflatoxin production by 95.3% and 100%, respectively. Current practices for inhibiting the growth of A. flavus and aflatoxins are either not completely effective or use costly chemicals. Turmeric essential oil may be a potential future candidate for natural food preservation.5
A study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology noted that turmeric essential oil may be a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Researchers tested the oil against animal models of both acute and chronic inflammation. Data suggests that when injected at varying doses such as 100, 500, and 1,000 mg/kg of body weight, the turmeric essential oil was able to reduce inflammation by 34-52%.7
In these animal models, turmeric essential oil demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity but further research is required to evaluate these effects on humans.7 This preliminary data may help support its use in therapeutic massage.
In the same study, researchers noted that turmeric also demonstrated antioxidant properties in several animal models. After 30 days, subjects that had received 100 or 500 mg of the oil were noted to have increased antioxidant enzymes present in blood and serum levels. Researchers concluded that these effects may be caused by its primary compound, ar-tumerone. They proposed that this essential oil could have a place in future food preservation, as an alternative to synthetic chemicals.7
In a recent clinical trial, scientists evaluated turmeric extract as a natural insecticide for the termite species Reticulitermes flavipes. When tested against a control group, turmeric extract was able to eliminate 100% of the worker termites within a five-day period. Compared to the control group, which only saw a 10% reduction, it was concluded that compounds in the extract should be further researched for their natural insecticidal properties.8
When used in psycho-aromatherapy, inhaling essential oils may help stimulate positive emotions and improve users’ moods. During psycho-aromatherapy sessions, hormones such as endorphin, serotonin and noradrenalin may be released from the brain, creating a positive impact on the body, mind and spirit.4
Side Effects of Turmeric Essential Oil
Turmeric essential oil is considered safe when inhaled or diluted with a carrier oil and applied to the skin.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be toxic if consumed. Never ingest turmeric essential oil unless under the direct supervision of a health care professional. Always read and follow the label’s directions.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children should take caution by consulting with a health care provider before using turmeric essential oil.
Where to Buy Turmeric Essential Oil
Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Lakhan, S. E., Ford, T., & Tepper, D. (2015). Zingiberaceae extracts for pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Journal. 14(50). DOI: 10.1186/s12937-015-0038-8
- Prasas, S. & Aggarwal, B. B. (2011). Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 13: Turmeric, the Golden Spice https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
- Gupta, S. C., Patchva, S., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2012). Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal, 15(1), 195-218. doi:1208/s12248-012-9432-8
- Ali, B., Al-Wabel, N. A., Shams, S., Ahamad, A., Khan, S. A., Anwar, F. (2015). Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 5(8), 601–611. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007
- Comblain, F., Sanchez, C., Lesponne, I., Balligand, M., Serisier, S., & Henrotin, Y. (2015). Curcuminoids Extract, Hydrolyzed Collagen and Green Tea Extract Synergically Inhibit Inflammatory and Catabolic Mediator’s Synthesis by Normal Bovine and Osteoarthritic Human Chondrocytes in Monolayer. PLOS ONE, 10(3), e0121654. doi:1371/journal.pone.0121654
- Sindhu, S., Chempakam, B., Leela, N. K., & Suseela Bhai, R. (2011). Chemoprevention by essential oil of turmeric leaves (curcuma longa L.) on the growth of aspergillus flavus and aflatoxin production. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 49(5), 1188-1192. doi:1016/j.fct.2011.02.014
- Aspergillus flavus. (n.d.) Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary. (2012). Retrieved March 8 2017 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Aspergillus+flavus
- Liju, V. B., Jeena, K., & Kuttan, R. (2011). An evaluation of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive activities of essential oil from Curcuma longa. L. Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 43(5), 526-531. doi:4103/0253-7613.84961
- Raje, K. R., Hughes, G. P., Gondhalekar, A. D., Ginzel, M. D., & Scharf, M. E. (2015). Toxicity of turmeric extracts to the termite reticulitermes flavipes (blattodea: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology, 108(4), 1479-1485. doi:1093/jee/tov109