Could this wonder spice contain one of the most important tools in the natural fight against hair loss? Let’s find out more.
What we're going to cover in this article
The Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is the root part of a flowering plant typically found in India and the rest of South Asia and has been used in cuisines in these regions for millennia. Part of the ginger family, it shares the earthy heat of its cousin, but with one key difference, its curcuminoid content.
The medicinal punch of this unassuming spice comes from the many curcuminoid compounds it contains. Curcuminoids, a type of polyphenol (plant-based micronutrient), exhibit a multitude of potent beneficial properties to health. The main curcuminoid in turmeric is curcumin.
Curcumin, the ‘active ingredient’, gives turmeric its (very strong) yellow colour and as the old adage of adding more colour to your diet goes, this is one colour you don’t want to be missing out on. As one of nature’s true superfoods, curcumin brings with it a whole host of proven benefits.
We’re here to talk primarily about hair and there is already a plethora of information out there on the benefits of curcumin more generally, so we won’t spend too much time covering old ground, but in summary, some of the benefits are:
- A natural anti-inflammatory compound: Turmeric is capable of binding with free radicals, neutralising them in their tracks. Oxidative stressed caused by free radicals is one of the main causes of illness and ageing. Also an inhibitor of common inflammatory pathway Nf-KB (we recommend reading more about that here)
- Anti-cancer and anti-tumour: Exhibits tumour suppression and inhibition of cancerous pathways 
- Protective against Heart Disease: Significant protection of blood vessel lining (endothelial) functions 
- Helps the body boost its own defences: Sets up the body to fight illness and disease more readily 
Does Curcumin prevent hair loss? Looking at the evidence
On top of the host of health benefits curcumin brings, it appears to be a big inhibitor of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase (this article explains why this is important). In short, 5AR inhibition means less DHT produced by the body which theoretically means less hair loss.
This study by the Korean Society of Food Science and Nutrition in rat prostates found curcumin inhibited 5AR activity by up to 80%, that’s on par with Finasteride!
Furthermore, in a separate study, it was shown that curcumin had a similar protective effect to that of Finasteride in protecting against a condition known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), which is a condition of prostate enlargement. This is a common condition in males which is caused by the presence of DHT (in this case particularly in the prostate where 5AR Type-11 enzymes are prevalent), indicating that curcumin was once again inhibiting 5AR activity.
At this point, it is worth noting that there is a broader relationship between prostate size in men, which tends to begin increasing around the age of 40, and hair loss, which also becomes common in men of that age.
The common denominator between the two is DHT. This is why prostate research of this kind should be of interest to those looking to stop hair loss. After all, let’s not forget that Finasteride is an enlarged prostate treatment drug!
The inhibition of 5AR in the studies mentioned above have also been found in studies such as this one as well.
These studies are suggesting, with clear clinical evidence in mice at least, that curcumin works directly in the same way as Finasteride by inhibiting the activity of a key hair killing enzyme, 5AR!
And this is without mentioning the whole host of other health benefits that Turmeric brings that will improve your overall immune and bodily functions which will indirectly support your hair.
We believe that given this evidence, Turmeric is a no brainer to be included as one tool in the natural hair loss prevention toolbox.
What is the best way of taking Turmeric? Important bioavailability considerations
Before you start spooning turmeric into your mouth, first there are some important considerations so as not to waste your time and money with the wrong approach to including it in your diet.
Turmeric has a curcumin concentration of just 5% so although we’d always advocate getting your nutrients from the source plant where possible, in this case, it isn’t possible to consume the amount of curcumin required to benefit from the desired effects.
Furthermore, even if you find a source with high levels of curcumin, we’ve got some bad news, it isn’t water-soluble. A study of those who took 2g daily of curcumin alone found “serum levels of curcumin undetectable or very low” .
This means that in our watery digestive systems, curcumin isn’t absorbed well, if at all, with most of it being excreted by the body in our urine.
So how to increase bioavailability you ask? Careful supplementation is required to tackle all of the digestive related problems curcumin brings.
Firstly, curcumin is fat-soluble, meaning that it dissolves well into oil-based compounds which increases absorption into the body. So consuming curcumin with fat helps absorption.
Secondly, a combination with black piperine appears to be an effective absorption booster. Black piperine is to black pepper what curcumin is to turmeric. It makes up approximately 5% of black pepper and is the compound that gives black pepper its depth of flavour.
The same study that showed that curcumin itself didn’t appear to be absorbed by the body when taken alone also showed that the presence of piperine increased bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%!.
Curcumin is typically rapidly metabolised by the body, but piperine appears to be an effective inhibitor of its metabolism, giving curcumin time to pass through the digestive system unscathed and with it, a higher chance of absorption through the intestine wall and into our bodies.
How to include Turmeric in your daily routine and dosage
Here are some suggested ways of incorporating turmeric into your diet and daily routine.
Please note, we aren’t paid or affiliated with any brands, the recommendations below are entirely suggestions from our own research.
1. Turmeric powder
Buy some cheaply and readily available turmeric powder and include it in your dishes. Add a sprinkle (no more than half a teaspoon as it has a strong taste) to most of your meals to reap the benefits as well as giving your dishes a wholesome golden yellow glow.
Even better, when cooking rice, just add a sprinkle each time. You won’t taste it, and your rice will turn a yellow saffron colour – similar to pilau rice. A nice visual change!
2. Turmeric tablets
Take a daily turmeric supplement, ideally with black piperine for the reasons we outlined above. Look for at least 95% curcuminoid concentration and at least 10mg of black pepper/piperine per tablet. Around 40-60mg per day should be safe from any toxicity whilst enough to reap the benefits.
3. Turmeric Teas
Consider drinking a turmeric tea alternative during the day. A welcome break from caffeinated tea and a new taste to introduce into your daily routine. Spice up your day, literally!
Although the evidence appears to show a direct link between consumption of curcumin and inhibition of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which makes it a key tool in the fight against hair loss, it is regardless a natural superfood that we would recommend including in your daily routine.
The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, in particular, the inhibition of the Nf-KB pathway, is something we will come back to focus on. The topic of inflammation and hair loss appears to be more closely related than
Consume turmeric with fats or black piperine in order to ensure the highest chances of absorption into the body and enjoy the whole hosts of benefits this wonderful natural plant can bring.
References Used in this Article