Is Turmeric Bad for Your Kidneys?

You may know it best as the spice in curry that provides its distinctive flavor and yellow color, but turmeric does more than stimulate your taste buds. This little spice has properties that may help you fight off infection, prevent cancer and help digestive problems. While turmeric is a source of potassium, a nutrient that people with kidney disease may need to limit, this spice may do more good than harm when it comes to kidney health. Consult your doctor to discuss turmeric and your personal health.

Sliced turmeric root and ground turmeric powder in a wood spoon. (Image: sommail/iStock/Getty Images)

About Turmeric

As a spice, turmeric has a hint of heat and a bitter flavor. It is used to add color and flavor not only to curry, but also to butter, cheese and various types of mustards. Curcumin is the active substance in turmeric that provides its medicinal benefits. This chemical is a strong antioxidant that protects cells from damage by free radicals and decreases the activity of enzymes that cause inflammation, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Turmeric and Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney disease, according to the American Heart Association. MedlinePlus reports that taking turmeric for three months may help reduce blood pressure in people with kidney inflammation. Additionally, a 2011 study published in Nutrition and Metabolism found that curcumin helped to partially prevent an increase in blood pressure in rats with chemically induced high blood pressure. While this is promising information for turmeric and kidney health, the evidence is preliminary and further investigation is needed.

Turmeric and Kidney Disease

As an anti-inflammatory, turmeric may offer some protection against chronic kidney disease and progression to end-stage renal failure, according to a 2014 article published in Molecules. The curcumin in turmeric blunts the effects of the inflammatory molecules and enzymes that may lead to chronic kidney disease, say the authors of the article. Still, the evidence is still under investigation.

A Look at the Potassium

Turmeric may contain substances that support kidney health, but the spice is also a source of potassium. One tablespoon of powder contains 196 milligrams of potassium. If you have kidney disease, you may need to limit the amount of potassium in your diet, which means limiting your intake of foods such as turmeric. People with kidney disease have a difficult time keeping potassium levels in balance, which can affect heart rhythm.

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