- What Is
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Turmeric and Blood Pressure Medication
- Medication Interactions
- Cook with Turmeric or Take Supplement
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is an ancient remedy commonly used in traditional medical systems. Today, it’s used as a supplement or as food.
Does turmeric interact with any medications, though? Turmeric supplements are likely safe, but they may interfere with some medications.
Turmeric, Curcuma longa, is a perennial plant in the ginger family. It’s native to Southeast Asia and grows mostly in India. The underground stem called the rhizome is the part you cook and eat, though usually only as a flavoring. It has a rough outer skin over yellowish-orange flesh that tastes bitter yet sweet.
Turmeric as food
You can peel a fresh rhizome, dice, grate, or mince the flesh, and add it to a dish for flavoring. Alternatively, you can add a slice of fresh turmeric to a cup of hot water for turmeric tea. Turmeric is a popular spice in Indian curry and gives it that golden color. It’s also used as yellow food coloring for butter and cheese.
Turmeric rhizomes are boiled, dried, and ground into powder to use as a spice and in supplements. Products range from powdered whole turmeric to liquid extracts to an isolated compound called curcumin.
Turmeric has high amounts of curcumin and other compounds called curcuminoids, which gives it a yellow color. Most of the research on this plant focuses on these compounds.
Does turmeric lower blood pressure?
Most of the research on the benefits of turmeric is from early animal studies, so it’s hard to say how it works for people. Early studies suggest that turmeric might help blood pressure, protect your heart, and lower your risk of heart disease.
High blood pressure happens when the force of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels is higher than normal. This can happen for lots of different reasons, but it’s often linked to lifestyle choices like insufficient activity, a high-fat and high-salt diet, and health problems like obesity or diabetes. These conditions cause an unhealthy ratio of higher bad cholesterol and fats in your blood.
As these materials build up, they harden and become plaque, which blocks your arteries and makes it harder for blood to flow through. Your heart has to pump harder to compensate, which raises the force of blood against your blood vessel walls and causes high blood pressure. Plaque can ultimately lead to heart attack and stroke.
Turmeric may help. Early studies suggest that turmeric can relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Turmeric might help prevent plaque buildup, too. Animal studies show that a turmeric extract lowered cholesterol and kept bad cholesterol from building up. But other studies show that taking turmeric supplements didn’t improve cholesterol levels.
Turmeric also stops blood cells called platelets from clumping together. This might help stop blood clots from building up along your blood vessel walls. But most studies are on animals, so more research is needed.
How does turmeric interact with blood pressure medicine?
It’s not clear how turmeric affects your blood pressure medicine. Since it lowers your blood pressure, it might have an additive effect on blood pressure-lowering medicine. This means it might strengthen your medication and lower your blood pressure more than expected.
Some studies suggest that it doesn’t interfere. A 2021 study treated high blood pressure in animals with turmeric and a drug called amlodipine. They found that turmeric had no effect: It didn’t affect the medication and it didn’t lower blood pressure.
Turmeric supplements are probably safe to take, but there isn’t enough research to know how it affects blood pressure in people. If you have high blood pressure and take blood pressure medicine, talk to your doctor before taking turmeric.
Does turmeric interact with any medications?
Turmeric supplements might also interfere with other medications.
High doses of turmeric might have a blood-thinning effect and might strengthen your blood-thinning medication, which could lead to bleeding. You should stop taking turmeric two weeks before surgery and you should talk to your doctor first if you take blood thinners like aspirin, warfarin, or clopidogrel.
Stomach acid medication
Turmeric might block the effects of chemotherapy medications, like camptothecin, mechlorethamine, and doxorubicin. These risks come from animal or lab studies though, so it’s not clear how it might affect treatment in people.
Is it better to cook with turmeric or take a supplement?
The problem with turmeric supplements is that you don’t absorb them very well. Your body breaks it down and gets rid of it quickly, usually without absorbing any of the compounds.
Companies try to add different compounds to the supplement to help you absorb it. A popular ingredient is piperine, which is a compound from black pepper. Studies show this raises availability to your body by 2000%, but this isn’t always a good thing.
Making it easier for your body to absorb curcumin might lead to side effects. The most common side effect is an upset stomach. Taking large doses or taking turmeric supplements for a long time can also cause:
Supplements can worsen some conditions, like gallbladder disease and bile duct obstruction. There’s no research on turmeric during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so you should avoid it if you plan to be pregnant, are pregnant, or are nursing.
Eating turmeric is safe, though. If you use it as a spice or for tea, it shouldn’t cause any problems the way turmeric supplements do with your medications or some conditions. The exception is acid reflux. Turmeric might add more acid to your stomach, which can make your symptoms worse.
Turmeric is safe to eat and often safe to take as a supplement. It may help lower blood pressure, but it’s not clear if it interferes with your blood pressure medicine. Talk to your doctor about taking turmeric supplements.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Know Your Risk for High Blood Pressure."
Cleveland Clinic: "Cholesterol: High Cholesterol Diseases."
Foods: "Curcumin: A Review of Its' Effects on Human Health."
Frontiers in Pharmacology: "Turmeric and Its Major Compound Curcumin on Health: Bioactive Effects and Safety Profiles for Food, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnological and Medicinal Applications."
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai: "Turmeric."
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Turmeric."
National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Turmeric."
Nutrients: "Effect of Co-Administration of Curcumin with Amlodipine in Hypertension."
Prasad, S., Aggarawal, B. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition, CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2011.
St. Luke's Hospital: "Possible Interactions with: Turmeric."
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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms.
Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater.
If you have high blood pressure you are at risk of developing life threatening diseases like stroke and heart attack.
REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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