The plant Curcuma longa is the source of turmeric, one of the spices in curry and a substance also used as an herbal remedy for various health conditions. The chemical curcumin in turmeric provides the herb's taste, distinctive yellow color and potential medicinal properties. Some side effects are associated with turmeric in medicinal amounts, and allergic reactions are possible. Consult a qualified health care provider before using turmeric as an herbal remedy.
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Turmeric has a role in alternative health as an herbal remedy for problems with the digestive system, gallbladder and liver. MedlinePlus, a website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, states that turmeric may be effective for stomach upset, and that curcumin might help reduce some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Evidence for most of the theorized uses is insufficient to evaluate the effectiveness of turmeric, according to MedlinePlus.
Turmeric Side Effects
Although turmeric is used to resolve digestive problems, large amounts can cause digestive side effects such as stomach pain, gas, indigestion, nausea and diarrhea. The University of Maryland Medical Center lists standard doses for adults of up to 3 g per day of the cut root and the dried and powdered root, and up to 600 mg three times per day of standardized curcumin powder. Stomach ulcers can develop after long-term use. Although turmeric is claimed as useful for gallbladder problems, it actually can worsen gallbladder problems, according to MedlinePlus. Turmeric also can slow blood clotting, which may lead to excessive bleeding. Don't take medicinal amounts of turmeric if you are pregnant, as it can stimulate the uterus and induce menstruation.
Turmeric Allergic Reactions
A small number of cases of allergic contact dermatitis and urticaria, commonly called hives, have been reported due to skin contact with turmeric or curcumin, reports the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Two cases involved the use of chlorhexidine solutions, and patch tests confirmed an allergy to curcumin. A case of allergic contact dermatitis occurred in a pasta factory employee who worked with curcumin food coloring, according to a study published in "Contact Dermatitis" in July 1998. A case of anaphylaxis after consuming turmeric also has been reported, with a positive allergy test for turmeric, according to Drugs.com.
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family, so you are more likely to be allergic to turmeric if you are allergic to ginger. You also are more likely to be allergic to turmeric if you've experienced an allergic reaction to yellow food coloring. While eating small amounts of turmeric as a spice in food is not likely to cause side effects such as digestive problems, it could cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to turmeric or curcumin.