Referred to as “the golden spice” in ancient traditional Indian medicine, turmeric’s long history of medicinal use dates back almost 4,000 years. It’s still widely used today as a popular herbal medicine, a healthy spice to cook with, and a natural cosmetic ingredient.

Scientists now know that turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and wound-healing properties. Although solid evidence of its health benefits is limited and remains questionable, many people still swear by it as a natural remedy to treat certain ailments and to boost overall health.

Here are just five ways the use of turmeric might benefit both your mind and body.

Mental Sharpness

A 2015 Australian study on older adults showed improvements in working memory when they took a turmeric supplement compared to those who took a placebo. Study participants also experienced reduced mental fatigue, suggesting that the spice could help our brains stay sharp as we get older. Despite these findings, other studies haven’t proven as much, and more research needs to be conducted on humans to be able to say for sure whether these benefits exist or not.

Improved Digestion

Turmeric has long been used as a natural remedy to help treat digestive disorders like ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and others. Even if you suffer from mild digestive discomfort like gas or bloating, adding turmeric to your diet might help bring some balance to your gut thanks to the spice’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Regulated Menstruation

For women who are looking to reduce painful menstrual cramps, turmeric could possibly act as a natural alternative to fight inflammation—without the nasty side effects that come with relying on prescription and/or over-the-counter painkillers every month. Some scientists think that certain herbs like turmeric act like estrogen in the body, binding to estrogen and progesterone proteins to help regulate menstruation.

Relief from Joint Pain

Some doctors have been known to recommend turmeric to patients suffering from sore and achy joints stemming from plain old wear and tear. Studies have shown that turmeric can be effectively used to help relieve pain and improve function in people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis almost as much as anti-inflammatory medicine can.

Weight Loss/Management

Turmeric can help lower blood sugar levels, prevent obesity by suppressing inflammation, and reduce high cholesterol—making it a powerful spice for almost anyone looking to lose weight or maintain their current weight. In one particular study conducted on rats, turmeric (along with sulphur) was shown to reduce weight gain and body fat deposition when the rats were fed a high-fat diet.

Turmeric is generally safe for most healthy people, but some people do experience allergic reactions or other side effects. If you’re taking any medications, are currently pregnant, or have any health conditions, make sure you speak to your doctor first before taking turmeric.

Image (edited) via the dabblist