Although turmeric is best known as a spice, coloring agent and flavoring for various foods, it has also been used medicinally for thousands of years for such conditions as indigestion, liver ailments, and arthritis. Today, turmeric is used for various health problems including headaches, depression and cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health or NIH, turmeric can cause side effects and increase the risk of gall bladder problems. Consult your doctor before using turmeric medicinally.
Preparations and Dosing
You can buy turmeric supplements as a tea or powder or in capsule, fluid extract, and tincture forms. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, recommended turmeric doses include 400 to 600 milligrams of standardized powder taken three times daily; 30 to 90 drops daily of fluid extract; or 15 to 30 drops of tincture taken four times a day. Daily doses of standardized powder above 8 grams increase the risk of side effects, says Drugs.com.
Turmeric and Gallstones
According to Drugs.com, turmeric contains significant amounts of oxalate, a chemical that increases the risk of gallstones. A study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in May 2008 demonstrated that turmeric significantly increased the levels of oxalate in the urine as compared to placebo, or sugar pills, after four weeks of treatment in healthy individuals. The authors stated that increased levels of oxalate in the urine increases the risk of kidney stone formation in susceptible people.
According to the NIH, turmeric is considered to be generally safe when taken in recommended amounts. However, it can cause side effects such as upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea. Taking large amounts of turmeric for a long time can also cause stomach ulcers. Because turmeric may cause extra bleeding during and after surgery, you should avoid turmeric at least two weeks before your scheduled surgery. Avoid turmeric if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Turmeric may slow down your blood clotting time, so you should not take it with other medicines that also slow clotting, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or warfarin, because this may increase your risk of bruising and bleeding. Also, herbs such as garlic, ginger, and ginkgo that slow clotting may likewise interact with turmeric. Turmeric may decrease blood sugar levels, and if taken with diabetes medicines, may cause your blood sugar levels to fall too low.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
- National Institutes of Health: Turmeric
- Drugs.com: Turmeric
- “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”; Effect of Cinnamon and Turmeric on Urinary Oxalate Excretion, Plasma Lipids, and Plasma Glucose in Healthy Subjects; M Tang, et al.; May 2008
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Using Dietary Supplements Wisely