Fight Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

Can Turmeric Help You Lose Weight?

Known by many different names around the world, most people know turmeric as the golden spice used in curry and yellow mustard. But did you know it may also help you lose weight and prevent metabolic syndrome(xi.103-104)

Obesity and its complications — including increased risk of cardiovascular conditions, cancer, and type-2 diabetes — are a major (and growing) global health issue. In the United States alone almost 70% of adults are overweight, and the number of obese Americans has increased some 60% since the 1990s, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. The good news is that decades of modern research and centuries of use in traditional medicines such as Ayurveda suggest that turmeric may help most people prevent obesity and its negative health effects. (xi.104)

How Does Turmeric Fight Obesity and Weight Gain?

Researchers now know that obesity is an inflammatory condition. Turmeric contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help suppress inflammation and the cell-damaging free radicals it creates. (xi.104)

Table XI.11: Effects of Turmeric Compounds on Weight Loss




Oral supplements of 500 mg (per kg of body weight) per day for 12 weeks significantly reduced the effects of a high-fat diet. Even though all the test animals gained weight and body fat, those given curcumin gained far less. Compared to the control group which was fed a low-fat diet: (xi.106)

  • Those fed a high-fat diet weighed over 23% more; those given curcumin with the high-fat food weighed 10% more than those who ate a low-fat diet.
  • The curcumin group had almost 39% more body fat than the low-fat control group. However, the non-curcumin group had over 83% more body fat.

Curcumin supplementation did not decrease appetite. Those given curcumin ate the same amount of food as the non-supplemented group — but still gained less weight. (xi.106)



  • Curcumin prevented the transformation of pre-adipocytes into mature fat cells. (xi.106)



  • Doses of 1.25 and 5 g/kg of body weight were given daily to obese rats on a regular diet (after being made obese from 8 weeks on a high-fat diet). (xi.107)
  • The rats lost significantly more weight than the control group not given curcumin. (xi.107)



  • Using a mouse model for obesity in humans, treatment mice were fed either 200 or 500 mg/day of fermented curcumin extract per kg of body weight. Both dosages significantly reduced body fat and overall weight compared to the untreated control group. (xi.108)




  • Female rats fed diets high in fat for 5 weeks had less abdominal fat when they were also given turmeric oleoresin. (xi.109)
  • They also had lower blood sugar levels than those who ate high-fat diets without turmeric. (xi.109)



  • Turmeric essential oil is primarily composed of turmerones. (xi.413)
  • When tested against turmeric oleoresin, curcuminoids, and a control (untreated) group, only the rats supplemented with oleoresin and essential oil turmerones prevented an increase in stomach fat(xi.109)


Clinical Trial

What Do Clinical Studies Say?

There have been very few clinical studies in humans using turmeric extracts that have measured its effects on weight loss. In one randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial involving 30 obese patients, curcuminoids did not reduce BMI, body fat, or waist-to-hip ratios. However, the study was only 30 days long and patients took only 1 gram/day of curcuminoids. On the other hand, longer cardiovascular and diabetes studies involving more patients have shown the benefits of turmeric compounds. (xi.110-111)

Turmeric's Curcumin Combined with Exercise Helps Postmenopausal Women Lose Weight and Lower Blood Pressure

For example, an 8-week study published in 2012 in the American Journal of Hypertension suggests combining curcumin with moderate exercise could help you lose weight. The clinical trial involved 45 postmenopausal women randomly divided into four groups and prescribed the following: (xi.110)

  1. Placebo-only
  2. Placebo and exercise
  3. Curcumin-only
  4. Curcumin and exercise

Neither the researchers nor the participants knew who was taking placebo or curcumin until after the study ended. Although the study was primarily conducted to measure curcumin's effects on high blood pressure, the women who took curcumin and exercised also lost weight. (xi.110)

The curcumin and exercise group had the highest average body mass than the other groups. Although the amount of weight lost was very small, it was statistically significant compared to the participants' weight at the beginning of the study. The weight loss was also statistically significant compared to those who had placebo combined with exercise. (xi.110)

Interestingly, in this clinical trial only 150 mg/day of curcumin was given to the participants. However, the curcumin was in the form of nanoparticles, which increases its bioavailability(xi.110112)

Turmeric's Curcumin Helps Pre-Diabetic Patients Lose Weight and Avoid Diabetes

More recently published clinical trial results in the July, 2012 edition of the journal for the American Diabetes Association further corroborate curcumin's weight loss effect. This 9-month long study involving 237 patients with pre-diabetes, randomly assigned to either a placebo or a curcumin supplement group. While the placebo group gained close to 7 pounds, the curcumin group lost almost 9 pounds by the end of the study. All participants were advised to exercise, it doesn't appear that this was measured or checked in any way. (xi.113)

None of those who took curcumin developed diabetes, compared to over 16% of those taking placebo. In addition, the curcumin group had significantly higher levels of adiponectin as well as improved pancreatic cell function. Adiponectin is an anti-inflammatory hormone secreted by fat cells that helps inhibit weight and is also associated with a lower risk for breast cancer(xi.104113-114)

Other researchers suggest that very high doses of even regular curcumin could work similar to green tea and block the absorption of fat. Of note, one of the ways Xenical® (or the nonprescription form of orlistat, alli®) helps with weight loss is also by preventing fat absorption. (xi.106115)

Turmeric Could Help People with Metabolic Syndrome Lose Weight

Results of a double-blinded clinical trial suggest taking turmeric supplements could reduce BMI, waist size, and body fat in patients with metabolic syndrome. In the study, 250 overweight men were randomly assigned to take turmeric, black cumin seeds, a combination, or a placebo for 8 weeks. (xi.122-123)

In addition to being placebo-controlled, the clinical trial was double-blinded. This means that neither the researchers nor the participants knew who was taking which supplement or placebo. Those who took either black cumin seeds or turmeric lost weight and body fat, and reduced their waist circumference compared to those who took the placebo. (xi.122-123)

Turmeric also lowered LDL cholesterol and reduced inflammation markers, but combination of the two herbs worked even better on all measurements. The dosage of turmeric was 2.4 grams daily, or 1.5 g/day when used with black cumin seeds. (xi.122)

An spice mixture made with about 60% turmeric, curry is commonly used in Indian cuisine. (xi.103)
Equal to a human dosage of approximately 3-4 g/day of curcumin. (xi.106)
At the end of the study, participants were walking medium intensity for 40-45 minutes a day 4 to 5 days a week. (xi.110)
Nigella sativa(xi.123)

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