Turmeric and Acne

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is more than just a golden-yellow spice commonly found in savory Indian curries. It is cultivated throughout China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Africa, and tropical islands. Traditionally the dried rhizome and tuberous root have been used in both Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal remedies for a number of different medical conditions. Haridr? (the Sanskrit word for the turmeric spice) is a common Ayurvedic home remedy for acne.1-2

Turmeric’s primary biologically active component is curcumin. Research has shown that curcumin has potent antioxidant, wound-healing, and anti-inflammatory properties, which may prove to be therapeutic against acne.1-2


Turmeric is considered safe in amounts found in foods and when taken orally and topically in medicinal quantities. It may cause atopic dermatitis in some people. However, pregnant women should not take medicinal amounts of turmeric because it could stimulate the uterus.3

How to Use

Turmeric is used both systemically and topically. Oral supplements are readily available online, and at health-food retailers. Recommended doses for its active constituent are 400-600 mg up to six times a day. You can also boil 5-30 grams of dried herb per cup of water to make an herbal tea (up to six cups a day). Taking turmeric with food increases absorption of curcumin.3

Topically turmeric may cause the skin to temporarily stain yellow—especially in people with light skin tones. When used as a topical remedy, it is typically mixed with water or honey to a pasty consistency and applied directly to the skin. Orally, dried turmeric can be mixed into liquid and consumed.4

  1. Fowler, Joseph F., Jr., Woolery-Lloyd, Heather, Waldorf, Heidi, Saini, Ritu. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology 9(6 Suppl): Innovations in natural ingredients and their use in skin care. The Free Library by Farlex. [Online] June 1, 2010. [Cited: January 4, 2011.] http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Innovations+in+natural+ingredients+and+their+use+in+skin+care.-a0229836294.
  2. Wynn, Susan G. and Fougère, Barbara. Veterinary herbal medicine. s.l.: Elsevier Health Sciences, 2007. ISBN 0323029981, 9780323029988.
  3. Therapeutic Research Faculty. Turmeric Full Monograph. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. [Online] 2011. [Cited: January 22, 2011.] http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=ND&pt=100&id=662&ds=&name=TURMERIC&searchid=24780145.
  4. Caldecott, Todd. Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life. s.l.: Elsevier Health Sciences, 2006. ISBN 0723434107, 9780723434108.
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