How long does it take for turmeric to work?

by Hannah de Gruchy March 02, 2023

How long does it take for turmeric to work?

Turmeric is a spice with a little warmth and an earthy flavour that gives curries and other spicy foods such as mustard their deep yellowy-orange colour. It’s been used both in cooking and medicinally in India for generations.

Ground turmeric

Researchers now understand that a group of compounds called curcuminoids found within turmeric are responsible for their powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Of all the known curcuminoids, curcumin is the most well-studied and best understood. Curcumin is considered one of the main active ingredients of turmeric and is responsible for many of its benefits

Many people choose to take turmeric supplements as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle to help support their overall health and protect against oxidative stress and chronic inflammatory diseases.

Turmeric: fast facts

  • Turmeric is a spice that provides warmth, flavour, and colour to curries, and is a member of the ginger family.
  • It contains the active ingredient curcumin, that’s responsible for many of the health benefits of turmeric.
  • Curcumin is fat soluble, so turmeric supplements should ideally be taken with a meal that contains healthy fats and simultaneously each day.
  • A rough recommended serving size of turmeric is between 500 and 2,000mg per day in the form of a high-quality supplement.
  • It may take up to two months of consistent use before the benefits are seen.

When is the best time to take turmeric supplements?

Orange clock

There isn’t a well-determined strict best time to take turmeric supplements. As with all supplements, consistency is key. Aim to take yours at the same time each day, at a time that suits your routine. It can be helpful to keep your supplements in a place where you’ll see them as a reminder to take them, such as on your desk or next to where you keep your dinner plates.

The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is fat soluble. This means that it requires dietary fat to be absorbed by the body. Therefore, it makes sense to take turmeric supplements with a meal that contains healthy fats.

Healthy fats include oily fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Most people don’t consume a high-fat breakfast on a regular basis, so it may be better for you to take turmeric with your lunch or evening meal.

What happens if I take turmeric on an empty stomach? 

Some people find that taking high doses of turmeric can cause stomach discomfort, nausea, and diarrhoea, especially when they first start taking it. Therefore, it’s often better to take it with or after a meal.

How much turmeric should I take?

500mg - 2000mg

There is no standard recommended serving size for turmeric. However, most studies seem to base their findings on an intake of 500–2,000mg a day in a supplement form that has a higher concentration of curcumin than the spice used in cooking. This was confirmed in a review in 2016.

When used in cooking, typically around 3% of the turmeric spice consists of the active ingredient curcumin. In contrast, a concentrated turmeric supplement contains around 95% curcumin.

So, aim to take between 500 and 2,000mg of turmeric per day for the best potential results. If you have a condition that affects your kidneys or gallbladder, bleeding or iron absorption disorder or diabetes, speak to your GP before taking turmeric supplements.

How long does it take for turmeric to work?

As with any nutritional or food supplement, taking turmeric will not provide a quick fix with instant benefits. It takes time for it to have an effect on the body, and this can take between four to eight weeks.

How long it takes turmeric to work will also depend on your starting point – everyone is different, at a different age and level of health, so there is no strictly defined timeline. But taking turmeric supplements at the same time every day will help. 

How long does it take for turmeric to reduce inflammation?

Inflammation isn’t tangible, we can’t necessarily feel its symptoms or know exactly where it is. But we may notice the effects of inflammation, such as in the form of stiff joints or if we develop a chronic inflammatory disease such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

Taking a turmeric supplement for four to eight weeks could help to improve the effects of inflammation such as ease the pain of stiff joints or help to improve our general health.

Does turmeric affect sleep?

Turmeric latte

It’s thought that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric and curcumin help sleep indirectly, by helping to counteract the effects of other factors such as stress and disease that can impact our ability to achieve good quality rest.

Drinking warm turmeric milk before bed can help to promote better sleep: add 1.5 teaspoons of turmeric to a cup of warm milk of your choice (dairy or non-dairy) with an optional squeeze of honey and a slice of fresh ginger. Alternatively, you can take a turmeric supplement in the evening with water or a soothing herbal tea.

Are turmeric supplements absorbed properly?

Turmeric can have poor bioavailability, that is, it may only be partially passed through the gut wall and absorbed into the bloodstream. The bioavailability of turmeric can be greatly improved (by around 2,000%) by taking it with the active ingredient found in black pepper, called piperine.

However, high doses of piperine can cause stomach upsets in some people. Fermented turmeric has a greater bioavailability than non-fermented turmeric and doesn’t cause the same stomach discomfort as piperine.

Taking turmeric supplements 

Organic fermented turmeric capsules

Turmeric has been a stalwart of the ancient Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, for thousands of years. In the Western world, we’ve only relatively recently realised its benefits to our health. Turmeric can be used in cooking but taking supplements can help you gain the most potential benefit. Supplements contain concentrated amounts of turmeric (and therefore also curcumin) that would be impossible to achieve through cooking alone.

The best turmeric supplements contain high-quality, organic ingredients, with no artificial fillers or binders. Fermented turmeric, such as Organic Fermented Turmeric from Living Nutrition is also highly absorbable, is free from gluten, soya and lactose and is suitable for vegans.

Also available as tinctures, shots, gummies, and hot drinks, try taking your preferred turmeric at the same time each day with a meal that contains healthy fats for one to two months before assessing whether you can feel any benefit.

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Hannah de Gruchy
Hannah de Gruchy


Health and wellness author and biologist specialised in sustainability, nutrition and eco-living.

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