Turmeric is a spice made from the rhizome of Curcuma longa plant. Asian populations have used turmeric for millennia as food seasoning and an internal and external medicine. Turmeric and its most biologically active component, curcumin, have shown promising anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in laboratory and animal models, and studies have suggested that they may be effective in treating or preventing all of Alzheimer’s disease to cancer. Unfortunately, enticing prospect of a cure-all lead some people to misuse or overuse turmeric and curcumin, especially since both are easily accessible — turmeric as a common spice and curcumin as a dietary supplement.
According MedlinePlus include average diet in India 2 to 2.5 grams of turmeric (corresponding to 60-200 milligrams curcumin) per day. In a 2001 paper in the journal Cancer Research, a Taiwanese research team led by AL Cheng reported that patients with precancerous conditions or noninvasive cancer took 0.5 to 8 grams of curcumin one day orally over a three month period without treatment-related toxicity.
Effects on the digestive system
High doses or prolonged use of turmeric may cause heartburn, upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea. According to MedlinePlus, but turmeric may be helpful in reducing the number of gastric and intestinal ulcers associated with any medication, it may lead to wound themselves when taken in larger doses or for long periods. MedlinePlus also cautions that turmeric and curcumin can induce gallbladder contractions, which can be problematic for patients with gallstones.
Effects during pregnancy and lactation
For millennia in India and elsewhere, pregnant and lactating women have taken turmeric in their daily diets without harming themselves or their children. MedlinePlus reports that studies on oral turmeric consumption found no evidence linking turmeric with abnormal fetal development. However, notes MedlinePlus also that turmeric is a mild uterine stimulant that may encourage menstrual flow. Pregnant and lactating women should exercise caution when consuming turmeric. They should also consider that while people have eaten turmeric-spiced food for thousands of years, curcumin supplements have no such history. The Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Center (MIC) said that medical science has not established the safety of these supplements during pregnancy or lactation.
The MIC lists a number of possible negative interactions between turmeric curcumin and drugs. In the test tube, inhibits platelet aggregation curcumin, which suggests that the supplement could increase the risk of bleeding in patients taking anticoagulants or antiplatelet drugs — even aspirin. Cell culture and animal data suggest that oral curcumin could inhibit the effectiveness of chemotherapy for breast cancer. Piperine, added a substance to some curcumin supplements to boost curcumin’s bioavailability, can slow the body’s ability to eliminate drugs like Dilantin and Inderal.
Anyone considering the medicinal use of turmeric or curcumin should consult a doctor to avoid exacerbating an existing condition or induce an adverse interaction with other herbs or supplements, over-the-counter medications or prescription medications. A qualified professional in Ayurvedic or traditional Chinese herbal medicine can also be useful. Do not exceed the dose recommended by the supplement manufacturers or health professionals. Remember that while the US Food and Drug Administration recognizes turmeric as a safe food additive, it does not regulate medical use, nor strictly regulate the quality or effectiveness of herbs and supplements that curcumin.