When it comes to turmeric benefits for men, you might know it’s good for you, but you’re probably a little hazy on what it does and whether you should take a supplement or sprinkle turmeric atop meals to supercharge your health.
“Turmeric is a spice that’s been used in a variety of Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines for nearly 4,000 years,” says Catherine Karnatz, MPH, a registered dietitian based in Rhode Island. Though in recent years, turmeric has become more popular in Western culture.
“Its distinct yellow hue is responsible for the bright, sunny color of curry,” Karnatz adds, noting that besides adding bold flavor to your meals and smoothies, turmeric is available as a supplement in capsule, liquid extract, and tincture forms.
Ahead, learn about turmeric benefits, dosage guidelines, and potential side effects. By the end of this article, you’ll have a sense of the benefits of turmeric for men.
Note: Talk to your doctor or dietitian before taking turmeric supplements.
What Is Turmeric?
The knobby, flowering plant with orange flesh has quite the health halo around it. It’s on every juice shop’s menu. Walk into a health food store and you’ll see a packed section of turmeric supplements. Simply put, turmeric is a botanical cousin of ginger root grown in Southeast Asia, says Kim Yawitz, RD, owner of Two Six Fitness in St. Louis, MO.
“It has underground stems used to make spices for cooking, but it’s also been used in Eastern medicine for more than 4,000 years,” she says.
It’s derived from the curcuma longa root, which is part of the ginger family. In fact, it looks remarkably similar to ginger root. The major difference, however, is turmeric has an intense golden-yellow color. That pigment comes from its active compound, curcumin, according to materials from Johns Hopkins University.
You may have encountered curcumin when reading up on turmeric benefits for men or scanning supplements labels. Because most of turmeric’s positive effects come from curcumin, turmeric and curcumin are often used interchangeably in supplements and in research, Karnatz says.
Turmeric Benefits for Men
Turmeric contains many plant-based substances that have a number of proposed health benefits. One group of these substances is called curcuminoids, which provides the greatest health-promoting benefits. That includes the powerhouse we mentioned before, curcumin.
Turmeric has benefits for both men and women. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, balances cholesterol levels, improves immune function, helps to prevent clotting, and protects the heart and liver. Prioritize it as a heart health food. It also reduces chronic pain and ensures the blood supply to organs is healthy.
Curcumin is revered for its anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties. In fact, it’s arguably the most potent, naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory agent around.
Post-workout, inflammation increases in your body as a healing measure, but excess inflammation can be disruptive to healthy cellular processes, like metabolic function, and can damage certain cellular structures, like arteries.
Eases Disease Symptoms
Researchers allege the anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin can effectively improve the symptoms of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, psoriasis, depression, and more, according to a 2021 paper published in Drug Design, Development and Therapy. It’s expected to be a candidate drug for the treatment of related diseases.
In addition to turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential and benefits for men discussed above, the spice has “shown some promise in treating high cholesterol and anxiety—although typically in combination with other therapies,” Yawitz says, citing 2017 research published in Food.
Prioritize turmeric as a spice and/or supplement and follow a healthy diet you can sustain for life (like the green Mediterranean diet). And nix bad behaviors like smoking, being sedentary, and consuming foods that are processed or high in saturated fat to lower inflammation.
Improves Joint Health
In 2016, researchers conducted a systematic review of all available research to evaluate the effects of turmeric on joint arthritis symptoms. The meta-analysis, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, found that turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that may help reduce pain and swelling.
Provides Pain Relief
In another systematic review, published in the BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine journal in 2021, researchers compared turmeric to ibuprofen and diclofenac as a treatment for joint pain—specifically, knee osteoarthritis. They found that both groups of patients experienced significant pain relief.
Similar to ashwagandha benefits for men, turmeric has also been used for centuries in Eastern Asian and Ayurvedic medicine. It reduces inflammation by inhibiting the body from producing chemicals that trigger inflammation, according to a 2020 review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology. This is very similar to the action of over-the-counter pain medications.
Aids Workout Recovery
There’s also evidence it can help with post-workout muscle soreness, she adds. Further research is necessary to lend more validity to these potential turmeric benefits.
FAQ: Does Turmeric Affect Male Hormones?
“Turmeric and turmeric powder are unlikely to impact male hormones simply because curcumin is incredibly unstable,” says Yawitz.
As the dietitian notes, some studies have looked at special water-soluble curcumin capsules, which, in theory, should increase the amount of curcumin in the blood. “In one 2022 study, published in Scientific Reports, testosterone production was higher in mice and rats given a water-soluble curcumin supplement, but regular curcumin supplements had no real impact,” says Yawitz. But other animal studies—such as this 2018 study, published in Cancer Science—have shown that curcumin can potentially decrease the production of male sex hormones.
Karnatz adds that few human studies have been conducted to determine turmeric’s potential impact on male hormone function. A 2015 study published in Toxicology Reports observed that curcumin administration in hypertensive male rats may boost testosterone levels. A lack of research makes it difficult to assess if curcumin supplementation in male humans has a similar impact on testosterone, Karnatz concludes.
The bottom line is that there “haven’t been enough human studies to recommend turmeric (or curcumin) as a natural testosterone booster,” says Yawitz.
Does Turmeric Increase Sperm?
There are animal studies on whether turmeric impacts sperm quality, and even fertility outcomes, but not much research has been conducted on humans.
A 2022 study published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences on male rats found that turmeric supplementation may raise sperm quality and aid fertility outcomes, says Karnaitz, stressing that limited human research exists at present to validate whether turmeric would have a similar effect on humans.
In general, antioxidants are thought to help protect sperm cells from damage. “But despite its antioxidant properties, it’s unclear whether curcumin increases sperm count,” says Yawitz, similarly pointing to a 2021 animal study, published in Molecules, that suggest curcumin can improve sperm production, quality, and motility. Still, says Yawitz, other studies caution it could actually lower sperm count, like this 2012 study done on mice.
Is Turmeric Good for Libido?
“Many websites—mostly ones selling supplements—have touted turmeric as a natural libido booster,” says Yawitz. Most of this hype is based on animal studies, like the aforementioned study published in Toxicology Reports, suggesting turmeric may increase testosterone production. Additionally, turmeric was used as an aphrodisiac in ancient India, Yawitz adds.
“Taking your lover out for a romantic curry dinner might put you in the mood, but the effect is most likely from the atmosphere and the company rather than the turmeric,” she says.
How to Add Turmeric to Your Diet
The downside to curcumin is that it isn’t absorbed very well in the gut when consumed (read: poor bioavailability).
“The body metabolizes and eliminates most curcumin before it can work its magic,” Yawitz says.
Luckily, there are many methods that can help increase absorption. Two of the most common: Pair turmeric with piperine (or black pepper extract), or combine it with fats.
“Foods with healthy fat can help increase its absorption, and so can adding a dash of black pepper.” The table staple increases curcumin absorption, per 1998 research published in Planta Medica.
You can also mix turmeric with other ingredients, such as avocado oil and coconut oil or add it to chicken, tofu, and other healthy foods. In addition, you can drink turmeric-based beverages.
Men may benefit from adding turmeric to their meals or taking a turmeric supplement. When adding powdered turmeric—available in the spice aisle at any supermarket—to your diet, use it as a flavor enhancer for curry dishes, soups, rice, and roasted vegetables, suggests Yawitz. You can also make that a turmeric or “golden” latte by stirring turmeric powder, ginger, vanilla, and cinnamon into regular or nondairy milk, she says. Just make sure you use almond milk or full-fat dairy as your liquid to get those healthy fats to bind to the turmeric.
Fresh turmeric is quite versatile, as well as being packed with robust flavor. “You can use it in any dish that calls for ground turmeric, but I also love it in dressings, marinades, or smoothies,” says Yawitz, noting that you should be sure to peel and either grate or slice your turmeric (just like ginger root) before cooking with it, and use about three times more fresh turmeric than you would ground (for example, one tablespoon of fresh grated turmeric if the recipe calls for one teaspoon of ground).
There’s one caveat: When you add the spice to meals, it might contain as little at 3 percent curcuminoids (more on this below), according to a 2006 article published in Nutrition and Cancer. In this case, supplementation is your best bet to get the benefits of turmeric and curcumin.
How Much Turmeric to Take
Before you reach for a supplements bottle, you should take all the research with a grain of salt (actually, pepper) as many of these studies are on animals or haven’t been replicated in multiple trials. That said, if you’ve decided to try a turmeric supplement and run it past your doc or RD, here’s what to keep in mind for dosage.
There are no official guidelines for turmeric and curcumin doses, though many studies in humans have used between 500 and 2,000mg of curcumin daily in capsule form for the prevention and treatment of health conditions ranging from osteoarthritis to high cholesterol, says Yawitz. And Karnatz notes that a generally recognized as safe curcumin supplement dose ranges from 500 to 1,000mg daily for the general population.
Is a Curcumin Supplement or Turmeric Spice Better?
In Yawitz’s practice, she typically has clients interested in turmeric supplementation start with 250mg of curcumin with food twice daily to increase absorption and minimize side effects.
Turmeric powder is about three percent curcumin by weight, so one gram of turmeric only has about 30mg of curcumin, says Yawitz. One tablespoon of turmeric powder has about 285mg, but in culinary terms, that’s about twice the amount typically called for in a turmeric-centric dish that serves four people.
Buyers should be wary of turmeric in supplement form. “Many health claims about turmeric supplements haven’t been proven, so there’s no guarantee that taking them will have an effect (especially if you’re generally pretty healthy),” says Yawitz, adding that supplements are basically isolated nutrients, while foods that contain turmeric have other beneficial nutrients.
Top 3 Turmeric Supplements
These supplements are recommended by the co-author of this article, Jordan Mazur, who serves as the Director of Performance Nutrition and Sports Dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.
- Solti Turmeric SuperShot: Incorporate one shot daily on an empty stomach or with food to get 17 grams of turmeric enhanced with black pepper extract.
- Thorne Meriva-SF (Sustained Release): Take 2 capsules once or twice daily (500 mg) to get a sustained release of curcumin that’s easily absorbed.
- Life Extension Super Bio-Curcumin BCM-95: Take 1 capsule daily (400 mg) with food to get a patented combination of curcumin with essential oils.
Turmeric Side Effects
Like all dietary supplements, turmeric supplements can have side effects. The good news: Side effects of turmeric—including nausea and diarrhea—are generally mild and much more common at higher doses, stresses Yawitz, who says turmeric tends to be well-tolerated in servings up to 12,000mg.
If turmeric is not already a part of your diet, you may be more likely to experience some minor digestive issues such as stomach ache. Opting for dietary supplements that do not contain artificial or synthetic additives will help reduce side effects.