Why is Turmeric Good for PCOS: A Comprehensive Guide

For centuries, turmeric has been used to cure a range of ailments. But is it good for PCOS?

3 min read

Turmeric is touted as a natural PCOS remedy for relieving inflammation, irregular cycles, and insulin resistance. But is this spice truly the miracle cure it’s made out to be?

Back in 2016, turmeric became something of a modern wellness craze. That’s when everyone wanted a sip of turmeric latte, writes Saba Imtiaz in the Guardian. Suddenly, coffee shops in London, Sydney, and San Francisco were serving up cups of “golden milk” to their most health-conscious customers.  Yet, Imtiaz said turmeric had long been incorporated into traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic approach to healing.  

If you spend any time online searching for PCOS natural remedies, it won’t be long before you find a post on turmeric. Indeed, the evidence suggests you should definitely consider adding turmeric to your treatment plan. But experts said there’s a caveat –  turmeric isn’t a one-size-fits-all PCOS fix.

4 reasons turmeric is good for PCOS

Studies show turmeric is helpful to ease PCOS symptoms, like inflammation and anovulation. The bulk of this research focuses on curcumin, a component of turmeric.

Barbara Delage, a nutrition scientist with the Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Center, tells Better by Today why curcumin is such a potent remedy: “Curcumin is versatile. Within cells, it can target specific molecules or pathways that are involved in the control of the cell cycle, inflammation, oxidative stress, etc., depending on the type of cells under scrutiny.”

While curcumin is turmeric’s most well-known compound, it’s not the spice’s only health-boosting ingredient, writes Frances Silver in Jacksonville:

“Recent research suggests that other compounds in Turmeric exhibit similar anti-inflammatory properties to that of curcumin. However, curcumin remains the most studied component of the spice.” 

1. Lowers inflammation

Curcumin has an anti-inflammatory effect, and this matters because PCOS is linked with “chronic low-grade inflammation”.

According to the Foods journal, curcumin has been shown to suppress inflammation in general. More specifically for PCOS, a Journal of Reproduction and Infertility found when rats were treated with curcumin, their inflammatory markers decreased. Another study suggests curcumin offers a “protective factor against inflammatory state of PCOS”.

2. May promote ovulation

Researchers suspect turmeric may promote ovulation, and that’s especially relevant for people who want to know if turmeric helps fertility. PCOS is associated with higher rates of anovulation, when ovulation doesn’t take place.

A 2021 study published in the Metabolism Open journal suggests Turmeric extract might induce ovulation.

“Turmeric Extract improved hormone and lipid profiles, antioxidant and glycemic status, and ovarian morphology in Letrozole-induced PCOS rats. 

“These effects could be attributed to its multiple pharmacological actions, which include estrogenic, antihyperlipidemic, antioxidant, and hypoglycemic qualities, all of which could help regulate PCOS and prevent ovarian cell dysfunction, ovulation, and so improve fertility.” 

3. Reduces androgens

Turmeric also has the potential to lower androgens. Excess androgens cause PCOS symptoms like acne, hirsutism (increased body hair), and hair loss. 

A clinical trial involving 67 women with PCOS explored the effect of curcumin on androgens. It found curcumin reduced hirsutism and Dehydroepiandrosterone levels, the sex hormone. 

4. Improves insulin sensitivity 

Studies suggest turmeric can improve insulin sensitivity, but the findings are mixed.

Turmeric is seen as having a positive effect on diabetes because it’s believed to decrease insulin resistance. Of course, up to 40% of people with PCOS are insulin resistant, according to Very Well Health

Though, some research into the benefits of turmeric shows curcumin might improve insulin sensitivity, while another study showed no impact on insulin. 

How to consume turmeric for PCOS

There are a lot of factors to evaluate if you want to consume turmeric for PCOS.

  • Absorption: According to the Foods journal, curcumin isn’t always absorbed: “Ingesting curcumin by itself does not lead to the associated health benefits due to its poor bioavailability, which appears to be primarily due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid elimination.” Poor bioavailibilty means not much of the curcumin reaches the bloodstream.
  • Dosage: A Frontiers in Endocrinology study looks at a review of the research into curcumin. It said many of the studies under review used widely varying doses and further investigation is needed to “ know its effective dose”.  

Further, experts warn that people taking medications or those who are pregnant might not be able to consume turmeric

Here are a few ways you can consume turmeric for PCOS: 

  • Turmeric tea: Simply boil water and add a couple of teaspoons of turmeric to make this tea.
  • Turmeric water: Mix turmeric, water, and lemon juice to make this healthy drink in under five minutes. 
  • Turmeric milk: An easy three-ingredient recipe for creamy turmeric milk. 
  • Turmeric gummies: These chewy turmeric gummies include apple cider vinegar, ginger, and ginger.

Supplements are another source of turmeric. I first started taking supplements when I visited my aesthetic doctor. At the time, I was struggling with regular breakouts. I didn’t know PCOS and inflammation played a large role in my skin problems. My doctor prescribed turmeric supplements, in addition to a few other supplements. Beyond that, I made massive lifestyle changes, including limiting my carb and sugar intake.

When it comes to supplements, you’ll need to do your homework and reach out to a medical health professional if you want to start taking supplements. 

Add turmeric to a broader PCOS management plan 

There’s no denying it: turmeric has loads of health benefits. That doesn’t mean it’s a magic elixir for managing PCOS. Such a thing doesn’t exist.

As Patricia Bannan, registered dietitian nutritionist, tells Better by Today: “While research on nutrition is key to our learnings about how to optimize our diet, you should never base your diet on any one study or one food.”

Thanks to the internet, resources on PCOS symptoms and treatment are more available than ever before. Do your research and discuss options with your doctor. It may take some time, but you’ll find the right health system for your needs – whether or not that includes the “golden spice”.