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Turmeric


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 turmeric extracts, alone or in combination with other herbal ingredients, can reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis. In one study, turmeric worked about as well as ibuprofen for reducing osteoarthritis pain.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Alzheimer’s disease. Early research shows that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for 6 months does not benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Eye inflammation (anterior uveitis). Early research suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, might improve symptoms of long-term inflammation in the middle layer of the eye.
  • Colorectal cancer. Early research suggests that taking turmeric might stabilize some measures for colon cancer. There is also early evidence that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for 30 days can reduce the number of precancerous glands in the colon of people at high risk of cancer.
  • Bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass graft surgery). Early research suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, 3 days before surgery and continuing for 5 days after surgery can lower the risk of a heart attack following bypass surgery.
  • A type of inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn’s disease. Some evidence suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for one month can reduce bowel movements, diarrhea, and stomach pain in people with Crohn’s disease.
  • Gum disease (gingivitis). Early research suggests that using a turmeric mouthwash is as effective as a drug-therapy mouthwash for reducing gum disease and bacteria levels in the mouth, but not for reducing plaque.
  • Diabetes. Early research suggests that taking turmeric daily for 9 months can reduce the number of people with prediabetes who develop diabetes.
  • Stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection. Early research suggests that taking turmeric daily for 4 weeks is less effective than conventional treatment for eliminating certain bacteria (H. pylori) that can cause stomach ulcers.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Early research suggests that taking a turmeric extract daily for 8 weeks reduces the occurrence of IBS in people with IBS who are otherwise healthy.
  • Skin rash (Lichen planus). Taking a certain product containing chemicals found in turmeric daily for 12 days can reduce skin irritation caused by lichen planus.
  • Kidney inflammation (Lupus nephritis). Early research suggests that taking turmeric daily for 3 months can reduce blood pressure and improve kidney function in people with kidney inflammation.
  • Stomach ulcers (peptic ulcer disease). Early research suggests that taking turmeric daily for 4 weeks does help heal stomach ulcers.
  • Itchy skin (pruritus). Early research suggests that taking a specific product (C3 Complex) that contains curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, and an extract of black or long pepper (Bioperine) can reduce skin itching and improve quality of life in people with chronic itching.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research suggests that curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, might help reduce some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Skin wounds due to cancer. Early research suggests that applying a turmeric ointment might help to relieve odor and itching caused by wounds associated with different types of cancer.
  • Recover from surgery. Early research suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for up to one week after surgery can reduce pain, fatigue, and the need for pain medications.
  • Tuberculosis. Early research suggests that taking a product containing turmeric and Tinospora cordifolia can reduce bacteria levels, improve wound healing, and reduce liver toxicity in people with tuberculosis who are also receiving antituberculosis therapy.
  • A type of inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis. Early research suggests that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, daily for up to 6 months can reduce symptoms and the recurrence of ulcerative colitis when used in combination with conventional treatments.
  • Jaundice.
  • Hepatitis.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Liver and gallbladder problems.
  • Headache.
  • Menstrual problems.
  • Pain.
  • Ringworm.
  • Bruising.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate turmeric for these uses.

How does it work?

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The chemicals in turmeric might decrease swelling (inflammation).

Are there safety concerns?

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Turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin appropriately for up to 8 months.

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: During pregnancy and while breast-feeding, turmeric is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in food. However, turmeric is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts during pregnancy. It might promote a menstrual period or stimulate the uterus, putting the pregnancy at risk. Do not take medicinal amounts of turmeric if you are pregnant. There is not enough information to rate the safety of medicinal amounts of turmeric during breast-feeding. It is best not to use it.

Gallbladder problems: Turmeric can make gallbladder problems worse. Do not use turmeric if you have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction.

Bleeding problems: Taking turmeric might slow blood clotting. This might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Diabetes: Curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, might decrease blood sugar in people with diabetes. Use with caution in people with diabetes as it might make blood sugar too low.

A stomach disorder called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Turmeric can cause stomach upset in some people. It might make stomach problems such as GERD worse. Do not take turmeric if it worsens symptoms of GERD.

Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Turmeric might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use turmeric.

Infertility: Turmeric might make it difficult to conceive. Turmeric should be used with caution in people trying to have a baby.

Iron deficiency: Taking high amounts of turmeric might prevent the absorption of iron. Turmeric should be used with caution in people with iron deficiency.

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.

Are there interactions with medications?

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Moderate

Be cautious with this combination.

Azulfidine EN-Tabs (Sulfasalazine)
Turmeric might increase how much Azulfidine EN-Tabs (Sulfasalazine) the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking Azulfidine EN-Tabs (Sulfasalazine) might increase the effects and side effects of Azulfidine EN-Tabs (Sulfasalazine).

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Turmeric might decrease blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking turmeric along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

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.

Talinolol
Turmeric might decrease how much Talinolol the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking Talinolol might decrease the effects and side effects of Talinolol.

Minor

Be watchful with this combination.

Abraxane (Paclitaxel)
Turmeric might increase how much abraxane (Paclitaxel) the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking abraxane (Paclitaxel) might increase the effects and side effects of abraxane (Paclitaxel). However, there is not enough information to know if this is a big concern.

Estrogens
Large amounts of turmeric might have some of the same effects as estrogen. However, large amounts of turmeric are not as strong as estrogen pills. Taking turmeric along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.

Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Turmeric might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking turmeric along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking turmeric talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
br/> Some medications that are changed by the liver include chlorzoxazone, theophylline, and bufuralol.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Turmeric might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking turmeric along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking turmeric talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Turmeric might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking turmeric along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking turmeric talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include some calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, nicardipine, verapamil), chemotherapeutic agents (etoposide, paclitaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, vindesine), antifungals (ketoconazole, itraconazole), glucocorticoids, alfentanil (Alfenta), cisapride (Propulsid), fentanyl (Sublimaze), lidocaine (Xylocaine), losartan (Cozaar), fexofenadine (Allegra), midazolam (Versed), and others.

Medications moved by pumps in cells (P-Glycoprotein Substrates)
Some medications are moved by pumps in cells. Turmeric might make these pumps less active and increase how much of some medications get absorbed by the body. This might increase the amount of some medications in the body, which could lead to more side effects. But there is not enough information to know if this is a big concern.

Some medications that are moved by these pumps include some chemotherapeutic agents (etoposide, paclitaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, vindesine), antifungals (ketoconazole, itraconazole), protease inhibitors (amprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, saquinavir), H2 antagonists (cimetidine, ranitidine), some calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, verapamil), digoxin, corticosteroids, erythromycin, cisapride (Propulsid), fexofenadine (Allegra), cyclosporine, loperamide (Imodium), quinidine, and others.

Noroxin (Norfloxacin)
Turmeric might increase how much noroxin (Norfloxacin) the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking noroxin (Norfloxacin) might increase the effects and side effects of noroxin (Norfloxacin).

Taxotere (Docetaxel)
Turmeric might increase how much taxotere (Docetaxel) the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking taxotere (Docetaxel) might increase the effects and side effects of taxotere (Docetaxel).

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Turmeric might lower blood sugar. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that have the same effect might cause blood sugar to drop too low in some people. Some of these products include devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, Siberian ginseng, 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.

Iron
Turmeric and curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, might prevent the body from absorbing iron. This does not appear to occur when turmeric is consumed in levels commonly found in food. However, in theory, taking high doses of turmeric or curcumin might decrease the body's absorption of iron.

Are there interactions with foods?

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There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

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The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH: 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.

Other names

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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.

Methodology

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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).

References

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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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Page last updated: 10 December 2014