Medically Reviewed on 7/21/2022

Generic Name: turmeric

Other Names: curcumin, curcuma longa, turmeric root, wild curcuma

Drug Class: Herbals

What is turmeric, and what is it used for?

Turmeric is a perennial herb, Curcuma longa, belonging to the ginger family of plants. Turmeric rhizome/root is commonly used for flavoring in Indian food.

Turmeric is used orally and topically in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine for multiple ailments including many gastrointestinal conditions, cancers, liver health and skin inflammations. The medicinal effect of turmeric comes from curcumin (diferuloylmethane), the active compound that gives turmeric its yellow color, and related substances (curcuminoids).

Some studies show that curcumin may have the following properties:

  • Antimicrobial: Antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal
  • Antioxidant: Neutralizes free radicals, types of unstable molecules that damage tissue and are implicated in many diseases including cancers
  • Antitumor: May control cancer growth and improve quality of life
  • Anti-inflammatory: Inhibits synthesis and activity of inflammatory substances such as prostaglandins and cyclyooxygenase-2 (COX-2)
  • Hypoglycemic: Reduces blood glucose levels
  • Wound-healing: Antiseptic that prevents infection and promotes healing
  • Analgesic: Produces pain relief by reducing inflammation
  • Liver health: increases bile secretion and flow and maintains liver health

Turmeric is used fresh or dried and powdered in Asian cooking for flavor and color. Curcumin supplements are extracts from dried turmeric rhizomes and contain a mixture of curcuminoids. Suggested oral uses of curcumin supplements include:

Suggested topical uses include:

  • Pain relief from minor skin irritations
  • Ringworm
  • Leech bites
  • Infected wounds
  • Inflammatory skin conditions
  • Inflammation of oral mucous tissue (mucositis)

Oral turmeric is poorly absorbed in the digestive tract, however, many supplements are formulated with other agents to increase its bioavailability. Turmeric may be effective for some digestive problems such as dyspepsia, however, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support most of the other uses, although research on turmeric use continues.


  • Do not take turmeric if you are hypersensitive to turmeric or any of the components in the turmeric supplement formulations.
  • Do not take turmeric if you have bile duct obstruction or gastric ulcers.
  • Do not take turmeric supplements before scheduled surgery, it may increase the risk of bleeding.

What are the side effects of turmeric?

Mild side effects of oral turmeric include:

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


About how much does an adult human brain weigh? See Answer

What are the dosages of turmeric?

Extract standardized to 95% curcumin


  • 500 mg taken orally four times a day
  • 200 mg/mL (Depo-Turmeric)

Colorectal Cancer

  • Curcumin extract: 440 to 2200 mg (containing curcumin 36 to 180 mg) once daily for no more than 4 months


  • Limited animal studies show no evidence of toxicity with turmeric. There are no reports of human overdose.

What drugs interact with turmeric?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

Turmeric has no known severe or serious interactions with other drugs.

  • Moderate interactions of turmeric include:
    • cinnamon
  • Turmeric has no known mild interactions with other drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Small amounts of turmeric used as a spice in food or topical application may be safe for use during pregnancy. Avoid taking turmeric supplements if you are pregnant, it may put the pregnancy at risk.
  • There is no information on the use of turmeric supplements by nursing mothers. Avoid taking turmeric supplements if you are breastfeeding.

What else should I know about turmeric?

  • Turmeric is likely safe for most people when consumed in food or as supplements in recommended doses, or applied on the skin.
  • Take turmeric supplements exactly as per label instructions.
  • Herbal supplements often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the turmeric product you choose.
  • Turmeric supplements are marketed as herbal supplements and are not stringently regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths and labels may not always match contents; exercise caution in choosing your product.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement, including turmeric.


Turmeric is a perennial herb (Curcuma longa) used orally and topically in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine for multiple ailments. Turmeric may be used to treat fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, headache, fever, bronchitis, indigestion (dyspepsia), diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas (flatulence) and bloating, minor skin irritations, ringworm, leech bites, infected wounds, inflammatory skin conditions, and others. Mild side effects of oral turmeric include stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea. Do not take turmeric if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Treatment & Diagnosis

Medications & Supplements

Prevention & Wellness

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Medically Reviewed on 7/21/2022