- Who Should Avoid It
- Recommended Daily Intake
- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
Turmeric has gained popularity as both a flavorful spice and a health supplement that can be used for a wide variety of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, heartburn, and even cancer.
But if you’re planning to take turmeric for its medicinal benefits, you should be aware that its main active ingredient curcumin has the potential to react negatively with certain medications.
Turmeric is a blood thinner. So if you are on other blood-thinning medications, you shouldn’t take turmeric or turmeric supplements because doing that could increase your risk of bleeding and bruising or even make the other medications less effective.
Blood thinners include:
- Coumadin (Warfarin)
- Plavix (Clopidogrel)
- Voltaren, Cataflam and others (Diclofenac)
- Advil, Motrin and others (Ibuprofen)
- Anaprox, Naprosyn and others (Naproxen)
- Fragmin (Dalteparin)
- Lovenox (Enoxaparin)
Turmeric can also interfere with your body’s absorption of iron supplements and antacids.
Who should avoid taking turmeric (or curcumin) supplements?
You should avoid taking turmeric if you have certain health conditions, including:
- Bleeding problems: Turmeric can slow down blood clotting. People with bleeding disorders should avoid turmeric even if they aren’t on other blood thinners. Since turmeric can increase bleeding during and after surgery, it’s also recommended to stop taking curcumin supplements at least 2 weeks before a planned surgery
- Gallbladder problems: Turmeric may increase bile secretion and worsen gallstones, cholangitis (inflammation of the bile duct), bile duct obstruction, and other biliary diseases
- Pregnancy: Turmeric acts as a uterine stimulant, so it can induce contractions that result in miscarriage.
- Anemia: Since turmeric can impede iron absorption, turmeric supplements shouldn’t be taken with iron supplements.
How much turmeric can you take daily?
While regularly consuming turmeric in foods is fine, you should be careful when consuming it as a supplement, since it likely has a higher concentration of curcumin. Turmeric spices contain around 3% curcumin while supplements may contain up to 95% curcumin.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of no more than 1.4 milligrams curcucmin per pound (0-3 mg/kg) of body weight. Most turmeric products recommend about 500 milligrams daily.
However, since no one set amount works for everyone, you should talk to your doctor before trying herbal supplements that contain turmeric or curcumin. The right dosage for you will depend on your overall health, existing health conditions, and your reason for taking the supplement.
What are possible side effects of turmeric?
For people who don’t have the health conditions mentioned above, turmeric is generally safe when taken short-term, and can also be applied topically to the skin unless you are allergic to it.
Does turmeric interact with any medications?
Turmeric is a staple in many cuisines in eastern parts of the world. The west better knows turmeric for its turmeric lattes. Eating turmeric regularly through food is generally considered safe. However, if you consume turmeric supplements for their antioxidant properties, consult a doctor.
Turmeric is known to interact with the following medications:
- Blood-thinning medications
- Turmeric is itself a mild blood thinner. It can reduce blood clots, but makes it dangerous to take in combination with other blood-thinning medications.
- Taking turmeric in combination with blood thinners can strengthen their effects and increase the risk of internal bleeding. Blood-thinning medications include
- Coumadin (warfarin)
- Plavix (clopidogrel)
- Blood sugar-lowering medications
- Turmeric naturally lowers sugar levels in the blood.
- When taken in combination with drugs for diabetes (that lower blood sugar), turmeric may further lower blood sugar levels, causing hypoglycemia.
- This may lead to a variety of side effects, including shakiness, anxiety, blurred vision, delirium, and overall reduced cognitive function.
- Turmeric naturally normalizes stomach acid. However, when taken in the presence of drugs that reduce stomach acids, such as Tagamet (cimetidine), Pepcid (famotidine), Zantac (ranitidine), and Prilosec (omeprazole), it may cause some undesirable reactions.
- When taken in combination with these drugs, turmeric increases the body’s production of stomach acid. This may cause nausea, bloating and stomach pain, and damage to the esophagus.
Apart from this, individuals with the following conditions may limit turmeric in the diet:
- Patients suffering from gallstones or bile duct problems or who have an increased risk of kidney stones.
- Also, if a person has an iron deficiency or is prone to one, they should be mindful that turmeric may impair iron absorption.
- Just be mindful that high doses of turmeric may not be appropriate if a person has a severe medical condition and if the patient is pregnant or breastfeeding or taking certain medications.
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What are the benefits of including turmeric in the daily diet?
Turmeric has healing and health properties due to its curcumin content. This makes it beneficial. Research suggests that curcumin is five to eight times more beneficial than vitamin E.
- Turmeric has been found to impact certain pain receptors in the body, particularly those in the chest, shoulders, and abdominal area. This means it may help reduce the severe pain associated with menstrual cramping, irritable bowel syndrome, and frozen shoulder.
- Curcumin present in turmeric is effective at being an anti-inflammatory, which is a natural remedy for the symptoms of arthritis and gout.
- Researchers used a combination of curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids as a treatment, which reduced the production of the protein tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF, when left unchecked, activates neurons, neuroinflammation, and pain. It is one of the causes of headaches. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric tea could prevent this from happening.
- Turmeric helps boost immunity. Curcumin present in turmeric has antimicrobial properties that allow it to act as a natural antiseptic, which helps protect wounds from bacterial infection. It may be beneficial, especially when recovering from cough and cold. Boosting immunity with turmeric tea may help fight infections. It also has an action on acne and boils.
- Researchers have indicated that the curcumin content of turmeric helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Since curcumin may help manage blood sugar levels, it can help with fat loss. Curcumin also boosts metabolism, which means burning more calories.
- Turmeric helps improve blood flow to and from the heart, encouraging antiplatelet activity that can help prevent clogged arteries. Since it is rich in antioxidants, it helps manage cholesterol levels. It also eases any swelling in the heart and is good for the heart’s overall health.
- Curcumin in turmeric has been shown to improve blood flow through the liver, improving the liver detoxification process and repairing damaged liver cells. It can also increase bile production and help balance gut bacteria levels, giving the body a healthy digestive system.
- Turmeric is full of polyphenols or antioxidants that are known to protect the body from free radicals that can cause mutations in cellular DNA. It also plays a role in healing the damage to the body that happens from environmental carcinogens.
- Curcumin tea or latte may be effective in fighting cancer. Some researchers hypothesize that it can reduce a cancer patient’s risk of metastasis (tumor spreading to other body parts).
- Turmeric tea may also help prevent dangerous brain diseases. Some research has demonstrated that the compound curcumin can help reduce synaptic marker loss and the buildup of amyloids linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin is also useful in warding off strokes.
- Turmeric can treat some lung conditions. This works because curcumin reduces inflammation, which causes a lot of lung problems. Some of these conditions include asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cystic fibrosis.
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Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017;6(10):92.
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