Turmeric Spice Vs. Supplements

Turmeric supplement pills next to a sliced turmeric root.
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Indian and Asian cooking experts use turmeric in the form of curry powder to add spice and color to their dishes, but this powder is also widely used in folk medicine. Its uses have extended to digestive problems, wound healing, skin diseases and liver conditions. Recently, scientists have studied it for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, most research is still in the animal stages or conducted on humans through intravenous administration. Consult your doctor before starting this supplement to ensure it is safe for you.

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Uses

Turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it is studied in diseases that revolve around these mechanisms. Often used for dyspepsia, turmeric shows promise in helping relieve the symptoms of indigestion, gas and bloating. A study published in the "Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine" in 2009 showed that turmeric was just as effective as ibuprofen in treating osteoarthritis in the knee, according to New York University Langone Medical Center. Turmeric is also studied as a preventive and treatment for cancer. Animal tests of oral supplementation look promising, but oral administration of turmeric does not seem as effective in humans. However, intravenous administration does have some promise and advanced studies are currently underway, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

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Spice Vs. Supplement

Turmeric is a plant that grows in southeast Asia and is used as a spice in many Indian food dishes. It is the main ingredient in curry powder, but it is the roots and bulbs that are used medicinally. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, and it is about 2 to 9 percent of turmeric. The amount of curcumin in turmeric and, by consequence, in curry powder is variable. To achieve therapeutic benefits, you will likely need to take a supplement that standardizes curcumin. Find labels that read 95 percent curcumin, but keep in mind that these claims are not controlled by the FDA. Research supplements before purchase to ensure that you are getting the most bioavailable supplement possible.

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Dosages

Turmeric dosages must supply 400 to 600 milligrams of curcumin three times per day to see therapeutic benefits, according to New York University Langone Medical Center. As a dried powdered root, you can take 1 to 3 grams per day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you have the cut root at hand, 1.5 to 3 grams per day is the dose, and if you have a 1-to-1 fluid extract, take 30 to 90 drops per day. For a tincture mixed at a ratio of 1-to-2, take 15 to 30 drops four times per day. A doctor can recommend a supplement type, and an appropriate dosage, to address your health concerns.

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Safety

Turmeric and its extract curcumin are recognized as safe by the FDA. Only stomach side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, are noted. Ulcers were noted in extreme cases, and if you have gallbladder disease, talk to your doctor before taking turmeric. Some evidence exists that it can lower blood sugar, so use caution if you are on a diabetic drug. If you are taking a blood thinner, exercise caution because turmeric can interfere with these drugs. Turmeric can also increase your amount of stomach acid and interact with some of the acid-reducing drugs your doctor might prescribe.

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Related Reading

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry dishes their color and flavor, and curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. In addition to its use as a food seasoning, it has many purported medicinal uses, including treating indigestion, ulcerative colitis, osteoarthritis and diabetes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Because of these purported health benefits, supplements containing turmeric and its active ingredient are commonly available for purchase. However, you should never use turmeric and curcumin to improve your health without first consulting with a trusted medical professional.

Step 1

Schedule an appointment with your medical professional to discuss using turmeric and curcumin supplements to improve your health.

Step 2

Research the effects of turmeric and curcumin to understand its potential benefits.

Step 3

Visit with your medical professional to ask any questions you have about turmeric and curcumin and the effects it will have in your body.

Step 4

Purchase the supplement from a reputable supplements seller. Many health food and nutrition stores sell turmeric and curcumin, and you can also order them from an online supplement retailer.

Step 5

Take the supplement as directed by your health practitioner and in accordance with the label directions. The recommended dose depends on the form of the supplement you are using. For example, the dose for standardized extract is 400 milligrams to 600 milligrams three times daily, whereas the dose for a tincture is 15 to 30 drops four times daily, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Step 6

Continue taking the supplement as directed and monitor yourself for side effects. Turmeric is generally safe when taken as directed, but possible side effects include diarrhea and nausea, MedlinePlus reports.

Step 7

Visit with a medical professional if you have concerns about how turmeric or curcumin is affecting you or your health.

Warning

While generally regarded as safe, turmeric and curcumin should not be used by some individuals. Do not take the supplement if you are pregnant or have gallstones or blocked bile ducts, for example, the University of Michigan Health System warns.

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