Turmeric is a spice mainly used in Asian cuisine. It has become famous in the west for the golden or turmeric latte. Apart from its antiseptic and antioxidant benefits, turmeric is also beneficial in food and manufacturing essential oil, perfumes or resins.
A small amount of turmeric used in culinary dishes poses no harm. However, people who take turmeric as a supplement in gel or tablet form must exercise caution.
Turmeric contains several active alkaloids. Hence, people with the following conditions should avoid it or use it with caution.
- Gallbladder problems: Turmeric can worsen gallbladder problems because of its ability to increase bile secretion. People should avoid using turmeric supplements if they have gallstones or bile duct obstruction.
- Bleeding disorders: Turmeric slows blood clotting leading to an increased risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders. This is especially important in those who take injectable blood thinners.
- Diabetes: Curcumin, a chemical present in turmeric, might reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Hence, doctors advise people with diabetes to be cautious because curcumin might drastically reduce the blood sugar level.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD): Turmeric can worsen stomach problems such as GERD. People with GERD should monitor for exacerbation of symptoms while having turmeric.
- Infertility: Turmeric may cause infertility in men by
- Lowering their testosterone levels.
- Decreasing sperm movement.
- Hence, men trying to have a baby should use turmeric cautiously.
- Iron deficiency: High amounts of turmeric may interfere with iron absorption in the body. Therefore, people with iron deficiency should use turmeric cautiously.
- Liver disease: There is some concern that turmeric might damage the liver, especially in people with liver disease. Do not use turmeric supplements if you have liver problems.
- Surgery: Turmeric should be stopped two weeks before a scheduled surgery because of the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Turmeric results in delaying the formation of blood clots.
- Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids: Curcumin in turmeric may act like the hormone estrogen. Although there are some studies that support using turmeric in hormone-sensitive conditions, there are other studies that oppose it. Until there is solid evidence, it is better to use turmeric cautiously if you have any hormone-sensitive issues.
- Pregnancy: Turmeric is a uterine stimulant and may induce the menstrual cycle in pregnant women. Thus, pregnant women should avoid taking turmeric supplements.
- Heart arrhythmia: There is a report of a man who consumed 1,500 grams turmeric in a day and succumbed to an abnormal heart rhythm.
What should I avoid while taking turmeric?
Avoid taking turmeric together with other herbal supplements with turmeric gels or lozenges. This is because of the risk of dangerous drug interactions that may cause more harm than good to the body. These reactions include
- Angelica (Dong Quai)
- Evening primrose
- Horse chestnut
- Panax ginseng
- Red clover
- Saw palmetto
These herbal supplements also affect blood clotting and when taken with turmeric can cause dangerous bleeding tendencies.
Moreover, avoid turmeric together with herbal supplements that may lower your blood sugar levels.
What are the side effects of turmeric?
Turmeric is usually safe when taken orally. Some people may experience mild side effects such as
Stop using turmeric immediately if you have
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Bleeding that would not stop
- High blood sugars
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