What is it?
Turmeric is a plant. 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.
Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), stomach pain, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems and gallbladder disorders.
It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, and cancer. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, water retention, worms, and kidney problems.
Some people apply turmeric to the skin for pain, ringworm, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, inflammatory skin conditions, soreness inside of the mouth, and infected wounds.
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 effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for TURMERIC are as follows:
Possibly effective for...
- Stomach upset (dyspepsia). Some research shows that taking turmeric by mouth might help improve an upset stomach.
- Osteoarthritis. Some research shows that taking some turmeric extracts can reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis of the knee. In one study, turmeric worked about as well as ibuprofen for reducing pain.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Skin cancer. There is some evidence that applying a turmeric ointment might help to relieve odor and itching caused by skin cancer.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, might help reduce some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Liver and gallbladder problems.
- Menstrual problems.
- Eye infections.
- Skin problems.
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate turmeric for these uses.
The chemicals in turmeric might decrease swelling (inflammation).
Are there safety concerns? (update)
Turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when used appropriately by adults.
Turmeric usually does not cause significant side effects; however, 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: Taking turmeric by mouth in medicinal amounts is LIKELY UNSAFE in pregnancy. It might promote a menstrual period or stimulate the uterus, putting the pregnancy at risk. Don’t take turmeric if you are pregnant.
There isn’t enough information to rate the safety of turmeric during breast-feeding. It’s best not to use it.
Gallbladder problems: Turmeric can make gallbladder problems worse. Don’t use turmeric if you have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Turmeric can cause stomach upset in some people. It might make stomach problems such as GERD worse. Don’t take turmeric if it worsens symptoms of GERD.
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.
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
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.
Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Turmeric might slow blood clotting. Taking turmeric along with herbs that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. These herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, red clover, willow, and others.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
For upset stomach (dyspepsia): 500 mg of turmeric four times daily.
For osteoarthritis: 500 mg twice daily of a specific turmeric extract (Meriva, Indena); 500 mg four times daily of a non-commercial product has also been used.
For rheumatoid arthritis (RA): 500mg twice daily of a specific formulation of the turmeric constituent, curcumin (BCM-95®, Arjuna Natural Extracts, India), has been used.
Curcuma, Curcuma aromatica, Curcuma domestica, Curcumae longa, Curcumae Longae Rhizoma, Curcumin, Curcumine, Curcuminoid, Curcuminoïde, Curcuminoïdes, Curcuminoids, Halada, Haldi, Haridra, Indian Saffron, Nisha, Pian Jiang Huang, Racine de Curcuma, Radix Curcumae, Rajani, Rhizoma Cucurmae Longae, Safran Bourbon, Safran de Batallita, Safran des Indes, Turmeric Root, Yu Jin.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).
To see all references for the Turmeric page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/662.html.
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Last reviewed - 12/11/2012
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