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Side Effects  of turmeric

In this article
What is Turmeric?
Why Do People Eat Turmeric?
Side Effects of Turmeric
How Much Is Too Much?
How to Ensure Turmeric Quality

 

Turmeric is a popular yellow spice originating from southern Asia. It's an essential ingredient in many Indian dishes. It's also consumed for its health benefits. Supplements of turmeric, or curcumin — its main active ingredient — are becoming increasingly common. Experiencing turmeric side effects can happen to some people, particularly if they are taking too much.

 

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant. Turmeric is spice extracted from the turmeric plant, a perennial plant that belongs to the ginger family and has the scientific name Curcuma longa. It is commonly used in Asian food. 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. It contains a yellow-colored chemical called curcumin, which is often used to color foods and cosmetics.

Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, bypass surgery, hemorrhage, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disorders, high cholesterol, a skin condition called lichen planus, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, and fatigue.

It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, hay fever, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, itchy skin, recovery after surgery, and cancers. Some people apply turmeric to the skin for pain, ringworm, sprains and swellings, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, acne, inflammatory skin conditions and skin sores, soreness inside of the mouth, infected wounds, and gum disease.

 

Why Do People Eat Turmeric?

Turmeric is used as a spice and food dye, adding both flavor and color to food. But it has also been consumed for its health benefits, all of which have been attributed to curcumin, its main active ingredient.

Curcumin supplements have the following benefits, to name a few:

  • Reduced inflammation: Chronic inflammation is associated with many diseases. Studies show that curcumin supplements may reduce the levels of inflammatory markers
  • Reduced heart attack risk: They may also lower the risk of heart attacks, possibly through their anti-inflammatory effects 
  • Improved antioxidant status: Curcumin and other curcuminoids are powerful antioxidants that may improve your antioxidant status
  • Improved blood vessel function: Studies suggest that curcumin supplements may promote the dilation of blood vessels, increasing blood flow and reducing blood pressure 
  •  

Side Effects of Turmeric

When you consume too much turmeric, or when you have an allergic reaction to this spice, it can result in the following:

  • Increased Risk Of Bleeding
    Taking turmeric has been found to slow blood clotting. This can eventually increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people who are suffering from bleeding disorders. Turmeric might also interact with certain medications and cause excessive bleeding.
  • Stomach Issues
    Since some turmeric powder supplements are made with filler products, such as cassava starch or wheat flour, it is possible that people with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease will have a negative gastrointestinal reaction to the supplements.
  • Allergic Reactions
    Topical inflammation and internal allergic reactions are possible turmeric side effects, especially when it is consumed in large quantities. These can include itchy skin, redness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, and excess flatulence.
  • Raise Gallbladder Contractions
    Turmeric contains significant amounts of oxalate, which is a chemical that can increase the risk of gallstones. In one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, turmeric had significantly increased the levels of oxalate in urine as compared to placebo. Turmeric supplements of 20 – 40 mg were also reported to increase gallbladder contractions.
  • Blood Pressure
    This spice is known to lower the blood pressure, making it great for people with cardiovascular problems.However, when used in conjunction with hypotension medicine, it can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
  • 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. 
  • Kidney Stones
    Roughly 2% of turmeric is composed of oxalate, and at high levels, this can contribute to the formation of kidney stones.If you are already having kidney problems or a history of kidney stones, excessive use of this spice or supplement can make the issue worse.
  • Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
    According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric is safe for pregnant women only when it is used as a spice in food dishes. Turmeric supplements must be avoided during pregnancy. And in case you are allergic to turmeric, it is best to avoid it during pregnancy.

    Most importantly, there is not enough information available on turmeric side effects on pregnant and breastfeeding women. And since they are crucial periods in any woman’s life, it is best to keep turmeric away temporarily.

    Turmeric has been rarely studied in breastfeeding women, and it is quite unknown if its active compounds would pass through breast milk. The resultant effects on breastfed infants are also unknown.

  • Infertility
    When taken orally in supplement levels, turmeric can cause a reduction in testosterone and low sperm motility, making it more difficult to conceive a child.

  • Diarrhea And Nausea
    Diarrhea and nausea are two of the common symptoms associated with turmeric supplementation. This is because curcumin in turmeric has a tendency to irritate the gastrointestinal tract.

    As per certain clinical studies, individuals that supplemented with 3.6 to 8 grams of curcumin per day for 4 months experienced mild nausea (3.6 to 8 grams of curcumin per day is a relatively high dose). Even low doses of curcumin can provoke nausea in certain individuals.

  • Surgery
    Due to the anti-blood clotting properties of turmeric, it is unwise to take this supplement or spice prior to undergoing surgery, as it can result in complications and excessive bleeding.

  • Cause Allergic Reactions
    Curcumin can be a contact allergen. Certain individuals have reported contact dermatitis and urticaria due to contact with turmeric. Since turmeric belongs to the ginger family, one is more likely to be allergic to it if (s)he is allergic to ginger. You can also be allergic to turmeric if you are allergic to yellow food colouring.

    Turmeric can also cause skin outbreaks like rashes and shortness of breath. Reactions can occur from both skin contact and ingestion.

  • Headaches
    High doses of turmeric have been known to cause headaches in some people, particularly after extended periods of using more than 500 milligrams per day.

  • Cause Iron Deficiency
    As per studies, compounds in turmeric were found to bind to iron. This could decrease the body’s ability to absorb iron from food, thereby leading to iron deficiency.

  • Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids
    Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, which might act like the hormone estrogen. In theory, turmeric might make hormone-sensitive conditions worse. However, some research shows that turmeric reduces the effects of estrogen in some hormone-sensitive cancer cells. Therefore, turmeric might have beneficial effects on hormone-sensitive conditions. Until more is known, use cautiously if you have a condition that might be made worse by exposure to hormones. 

 

How Much Is Too Much?

There are no official recommendations for the intake of turmeric, and the maximum tolerable intake level has not been identified.

However, as a general rule, you should not exceed the dosage recommendations you find on supplement labels.

On the other hand, there are some official guidelines for the intake of curcumin.

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) set the acceptable dietary intake as 1.4 mg per pound (3 mg/kg) of body weight per day.

For a 178-pound (81-kg) man, this would translate into 239 mg per day.

However, one review concluded that doses of 3,600–8,000 mg per day do not cause any serious side effects. Another study showed that single doses of 12,000 mg were well tolerated 

Recommended Turmeric Dosage
Though turmeric has certain side effects, it indeed is essential for optimal health. And the only way to avoid the side effects is by using the right dosage. Following are the recommended dosages for different forms of turmeric 

  • Powdered dry root
    1.5 to 2.5 grams per day.
  • Standardized powder
    1.2 to 1.8 grams per day.
  • Turmeric tea
    You can steep 15 grams of turmeric root in 135 ml of boiling water. You can take this preparation twice daily.
  • Water-based extract
    30 to 90 drops of the extract per day.
  • Tincture
    15 to 30 drops of the tincture 4 times per day.

 

How to Ensure Turmeric Quality
Some turmeric powders contain cheap fillers not mentioned on the labels.

These adulterated powders are difficult to identify without a chemical analysis. Your best bet is to choose turmeric that has been certified by a reputable agency.

For instance, you could look for turmeric that has been certified organic by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

If you are taking turmeric or curcumin supplements, select supplements that have a quality certification by a third party. Several companies provide quality certifications for supplement manufacturers.

These include NSF International, Informed Choice and the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). Look for their seal on the packaging of products, or go to their websites to see what supplements they've certified.

 

Conclusion
Turmeric could have been that one single spice that always enjoyed a reputed status in every household. But yes, even it has got side effects. This doesn’t mean you totally eliminate it from your diet – as it comes with its fair share of benefits. Use it in moderation and as required. And, if you have any of the conditions mentioned in this post, temporarily stop its usage.

Keep in mind that low-quality turmeric may be adulterated with cheap fillers, such as wheat starch, which will cause adverse symptoms in people with gluten intolerance.

And most importantly, take your doctor’s advice.


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