Turmeric is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant. It is commonly used in Asian food. You probably know turmeric as the main spice in curry. It has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. But the root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine. It contains a yellow-colored chemical called curcumin, which is often used to color foods and cosmetics.
Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, bypass surgery, hemorrhage, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), liver problems, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disorders, high cholesterol, a skin condition called lichen planus, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, and fatigue.
It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, hay fever, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, itchy skin, recovery after surgery, and cancers. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, swelling in the middle layer of the eye (anterior uveitis), diabetes, water retention, worms, an autoimmune disease called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), tuberculosis, urinary bladder inflammation, and kidney problems.
Some people apply turmeric to the skin for pain, ringworm, sprains and swellings, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, acne, psoriasis, inflammatory skin conditions and skin sores, soreness inside of the mouth, infected wounds, and gum disease.
Turmeric is also used as an enema for people with inflammatory bowel disease.
In food and manufacturing, the essential oil of turmeric is used in perfumes, and its resin is used as a flavor and color component in foods.
Don’t confuse turmeric with Javanese turmeric root (Curcuma zedoaria).
How does it work?
Turmeric contains the chemical curcumin. Curcumin and other chemicals in turmeric might decrease swelling (inflammation). Because of this, turmeric might be beneficial for treating conditions that involve inflammation.
Uses & Effectiveness?
Possibly Effective for
- Hay fever. Taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, seems to reduce hayfever symptoms such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestion.
- Most available research shows that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, reduces depression symptoms in people already using an antidepressant.
- High cholesterol. Turmeric seems to lower levels of blood fats called triglycerides. The effects of turmeric on cholesterol levels are conflicting. There are many different turmeric products available. It is not known which ones work best.
- Liver disease not caused by alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).Research shows that taking turmeric extract reduces markers of liver injury in people who have a liver disease not caused by alcohol. It also seems to help prevent the build-up of more fat in the liver in people with this condition.
- Some research shows that taking turmeric extracts, alone or in combination with other herbal ingredients, can reduce pain and improve function in people with knee osteoarthritis. In some research, turmeric worked about as well as ibuprofen for reducing osteoarthritis pain. But it does not seem to work as well as diclofenac for improving pain and function in people with osteoarthritis.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Research shows that taking a turmeric extract daily for 7 days before a menstrual period and continuing for 3 days after the period ends improves pain, mood, and behavior in women with PMS.
- Itching (pruritus). Research suggests that taking turmeric by mouth three times daily for 8 weeks reduces itching in people with long-term kidney disease. Also, early research suggests that taking a specific combination product containing curcumin plus black pepper or long pepper daily for 4 weeks reduces itching severity and improves quality of life in people with chronic itching caused by mustard gas.
- A type of inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis. Some research shows that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, by mouth or as an enema, along with conventional treatments, improves symptoms and increases the number of people who go into remission. For people already in remission, turmeric increases the likelihood of staying in remission when used in combination with conventional treatments.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Stomach ulcers. Some research suggests that taking turmeric three times daily for 8 weeks does not improve stomach ulcers. Also, taking powdered turmeric four times daily for 6 weeks seems to be less effective than taking a conventional antacid.
- Skin problems related to radiation cancer treatments. Curcumin is a chemical in turmeric. Taking curcumin does not seem to prevent skin problems during radiation treatment.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Alzheimer’s disease. Early research shows that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for 6 months does not benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Eye inflammation (anterior uveitis). Early research suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, might improve symptoms of long-term inflammation in the middle layer of the eye.
- Mental function. Curcumin is a chemical in turmeric. Some research shows that curcumin can improve memory and attention in older adults. Some of these adults showed signs of mild mental decline before taking curcumin. But other research shows that curcumin does not improve mental function in older people who don’t show signs of mental decline.
- Growths in the large intestine (colorectal adenomas). Early research shows that taking a turmeric extract does not reduce the number of growths in the intestines of people with a condition called familial adenomatous polyposis.
- Colorectal cancer. Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing turmeric extract and Javanese turmeric extract might stabilize some measures of colon cancer. There is also early evidence that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for 30 days can reduce the number of precancerous glands in the colon of people at high risk of cancer.
- Bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass graft surgery). Early research suggests that taking curcuminoids, which are chemicals found in turmeric, starting 3 days before surgery and continuing for 5 days after surgery can lower the risk of a heart attack following bypass surgery.
- A type of inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn’s disease. Some evidence suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for one month can reduce bowel movements, diarrhea, and stomach pain in people with Crohn’s disease.
- Early research shows that taking turmeric might prevent diabetes in people with prediabetes.
- Stomach upset (dyspepsia). Some research shows that taking turmeric by mouth four times daily for 7 days might help improve an upset stomach.
- Gum disease (gingivitis). Early research suggests that using a turmeric mouthwash is as effective as a drug-therapy mouthwash for reducing gum disease and bacteria levels in the mouth of people with gingivitis.
- Stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection. Early research suggests that taking turmeric daily for 4 weeks is less effective than conventional treatment for eliminating certain bacteria (H. pylori) that can cause stomach ulcers. Other research shows that taking turmeric along with conventional treatments for eliminating these bacteria (H. pylori) does not make the conventional treatment more effective. But it may help to reduce stomach upset.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some early research shows that taking a turmeric extract daily for 8 weeks reduces the symptoms of IBS in people with IBS who are otherwise healthy. Other early research shows that taking a capsule containing turmeric and fennel for 30 days improves pain and quality of life in people with IBS.
- Joint pain. Research shows that taking a specific product containing turmeric and other ingredients three times daily for 8 weeks reduces the severity of joint pain. But it does not appear to help joint stiffness or improve joint function.
- Skin rash (Lichen planus). Taking a certain product containing chemicals found in turmeric three times daily for 12 days can reduce skin irritation caused by lichen planus.
- Prostate cancer. Research suggests that taking a formula containing broccoli powder, turmeric powder, pomegranate whole fruit powder, and green tea extract three times daily for 6 months prevents an increase in prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in men with prostate cancer. PSA levels are measured to monitor how well prostate cancer treatment is working. However, it’s not yet known if this formula, or turmeric alone, reduces the risk of prostate cancer progression or recurrence.
- Early research shows that applying a turmeric tonic to the scalp improves the appearance and symptoms of psoriasis in people with psoriasis on the scalp.
- Inflammation in the mouth and/or esophagus from radiation treatment. Early research suggests that swishing a turmeric solution in the mouth six times daily for 6 weeks reduces the risk of inflammation in the mouth and/or esophagus caused by radiation treatment in people with head and neck cancer.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research suggests that curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, might reduce some RA symptoms, including pain, morning stiffness, walking time, and joint swelling. Other research shows that taking a turmeric product twice daily reduces RA symptoms more than conventional medication.
- Skin cancer. Early research shows that applying a turmeric ointment might help to relieve odor and itching caused by cancer-related wounds.
- Recover from surgery. Early research suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for up to one week after surgery can reduce pain, fatigue, and the need for pain medications.
- An inflammatory disease called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Early research suggests that taking turmeric by mouth three times daily for 3 months can reduce blood pressure and improve kidney function in people with kidney inflammation (lupus nephritis) caused by systemic lupus erythematosus.
- Early research suggests that taking a product containing turmeric and Tinospora cordifolia can reduce bacteria levels, improve wound healing, and reduce liver toxicity caused by antituberculosis therapy in people with tuberculosis who are receiving antituberculosis therapy.
- Liver and gallbladder problems.
- Menstrual problems.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate turmeric for these uses.
Side Effects & Safety
Turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin appropriately for up to 12 months.
Turmeric is POSSIBLY SAFE when it is used as an enema or a mouthwash in the short-term.
Turmeric usually does not cause significant side effects. But some people can experience stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea.
In one report, a person who took very high amounts of turmeric, over 1500 mg twice daily, experienced a dangerous abnormal heart rhythm. However, it is unclear if turmeric was the actual cause of this side effect. Until more is known, avoid taking excessively large doses of turmeric.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: During pregnancy and while breast-feeding, turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in food. However, turmeric is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts during pregnancy. It might promote a menstrual period or stimulate the uterus, putting the pregnancy at risk. Do not take medicinal amounts of turmeric if you are pregnant. There is not enough information to rate the safety of medicinal amounts of turmeric during breast-feeding. It is best not to use it.
Gallbladder problems: Turmeric can make gallbladder problems worse. Do not use turmeric if you have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction.
Bleeding problems: Taking turmeric might slow blood clotting. This might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
Diabetes: Curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, might decrease blood sugar in people with diabetes. Use with caution in people with diabetes as it might make blood sugar too low.
A stomach disorder called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Turmeric can cause stomach upset in some people. It might make stomach problems such as GERD worse. Do not take turmeric if it worsens symptoms of GERD.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, which might act like the hormone estrogen. In theory, turmeric might make hormone-sensitive conditions worse. However, some research shows that turmeric reduces the effects of estrogen in some hormone-sensitive cancer cells. Therefore, turmeric might have beneficial effects on hormone-sensitive conditions. Until more is known, use cautiously if you have a condition that might be made worse by exposure to hormones.
Infertility: Turmeric might lower testosterone levels and decrease sperm movement when taken by mouth by men. This might reduce fertility. Turmeric should be used cautiously by people trying to have a baby.
Iron deficiency: Taking high amounts of turmeric might prevent the absorption of iron. Turmeric should be used with caution in people with iron deficiency.
Surgery: Turmeric might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using turmeric at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
- Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might slow blood clotting. Taking turmeric along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Dosing ADULTS BY MOUTH:
- Allergic rhinitis (hayfever.
- 500 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been used daily for 2 months.
- 500 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been taken twice daily, alone or along with 20 mg of fluoxetine daily, for 6-8 weeks.
- For high cholesterol:
- 4 grams of turmeric extract in two divided doses daily for 3 months has been used.
- For liver disease not caused by alcohol:
- 500 mg of a product containing 70 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been used daily for 8 weeks. Also, 500-mg tablets (Meriva, Indena) containing 100 mg curcumin twice daily for 8 weeks has also been used.
- For itching (pruritus):
- 1500 mg of turmeric in three divided doses daily for 8 weeks has been used. Also, a specific product containing turmeric extract (C3 Complex, Sami Labs LTD) plus black pepper or long pepper has been used daily for 4 weeks.
- For premenstrual syndrome (PMS):
- 100 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been taken twice daily starting 7 days before a menstrual period, continuing during the menstrual period, and for 3 days after the end of the menstrual period, for 3 menstrual cycles in a row.
- For osteoarthritis:
- 500 mg of a non-commercial turmeric product four times daily for 4-6 weeks has been used. 500 mg of a specific turmeric extract (Turmacin, Natural Remedies Pvt. Ltd.) has been used twice daily for 6 weeks. 90 mg of a specific turmeric extract (Theracurmin, Theravalues Corp) twice daily for 8 weeks has been used. 500-mg tablets (Meriva, Indena) containing 100 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, along with phosphatidylcholine has been used twice daily for 2-3 months. A specific product containing 1050 mg of turmeric extract and 450 mg of boswellia extract (Curamin, EuroPharma USA) has been used for 12 weeks.
- For a type of inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis:
- 3 grams of a specific curcumin product (Cur-Cure, Bara Herbs, Inc) daily for 1 month has been used along with conventional treatments. 1.1 grams of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, daily for 1 month, followed by 1.65 grams daily for another month, has been used along with conventional treatments. 2 grams of curcumin daily for 6 months has been used along with conventional treatments.
Black Pepper Can Boost Bioavailability by 2000%
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is one of the most commonly consumed spices on the planet. In many parts of the world, you can find it on nearly every dinner table, right next to the salt. It’s usually just called “pepper,” but it also bears the nicknames “black gold” and “the king of spices.” It has a phenomenally long shelf life. Properly stored, black pepper can maintain its taste and aroma for many years.
Black pepper also has many health benefits of its own. It’s been used to relieve nausea, headaches, poor digestion, and sore throats. Much like how turmeric owes its healthy properties to curcumin, black pepper gets both its health benefits and its pungent flavor from a natural alkaloid compound called piperine.
Taking turmeric with black pepper may boost its bioavailability up to an astonishing 2000%. This is because piperine acts as an excellent bio-enhancer. Put simply, it can improve the bioavailability of other substances in the body. The serving needed is quite small. You only need a pinch of pepper to enhance the absorption of turmeric.
The Powerful Potential of Piperine
When you consume a nutrient, your digestive system can only absorb a certain portion of it. The proportion of a nutrient that your body can digest, absorb, and utilize is its bioavailability. For example, the bioavailability of protein is very high. Most people use over 90% of the protein they consume. After it moves through your digestive system, your body eliminates the rest as waste.
For a nutrient to be absorbed into your body, it must pass through a membrane in your gut into your bloodstream. Large molecules have a more difficult time getting through this barrier. Piperine may help relax your intestinal membrane, allowing larger particles, like turmeric, to pass through.
The effect of piperine on the liver may play another factor. As part of your normal metabolism, your liver releases a substance called UDP-glucuronic acid. In a process called glucuronidation, this acid bonds with other substances to make them more water-soluble, and thus more easily excreted.
With turmeric, this glucuronidation may operate too quickly, eliminating the herb from your system before your body can make full use of it. Studies have found that piperine lowers the blood levels of UDP-glucuronic acid, inhibiting glucuronidation.