Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of conditions. Studies show that turmeric may help fight Infection
s and some Cancer
s, reduce Inflammation
, and treat Digestive
Many studies have taken place in test tubes and animals. Turmeric may not work as well in humans. Some studies have used an injectable form of curcumin, the active substance in turmeric, and not all studies agree. Finally, some of the studies show conflicting evidence.
Turmeric is widely used in cooking and gives Indian curry its flavor and yellow color. It is also used in mustard and to color butter and cheese. Turmeric has been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an Anti-inflammatory
, to treat Digestive
diseases, and Wound
Curcumin is also a powerful Antioxidant
s scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidant
s can fight free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.
In addition, curcumin lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause Inflammation
. It also stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.
Research suggests that turmeric may be helpful for the following conditions:
Curcumin stimulates the gallBladder
to produce bile, which some people think may help improve Digestion
. The German Commission E, which determines which herbs can be safely prescribed in Germany, has approved turmeric for Digestive
problems. And one double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that turmeric reduced symptoms of bloating and gas in people suffering from inDigestion
Turmeric may help people with ulcerative Colitis
stay in remission. Ulcerative Colitis
is a chronic disease of the Digestive
tract where symptoms tend to come and go. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, people whose ulcerative Colitis
was in remission took either curcumin or placebo, along with conventional medical treatment, for 6 months. Those who took curcumin had a significantly lower relapse rate than those who took placebo.
Turmeric does not seem to help treat Stomach Ulcers
. In fact, there is some evidence that it may increase Stomach
acid, making existing Ulcers
worse. (See "Precautions" section.)
Because of turmeric's ability to reduce Inflammation
, researchers have wondered if it may help relieve osteoArthrit
. One study found that people using an Ayurvedic formula of herbs and minerals with turmeric, winter cherry (Withinia somnifera), boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and zinc had less Pain
and disability. But it's impossible to know whether turmeric, one of the other supplements, or all of them together, was responsible for the effects.
Early studies suggested that turmeric may help prevent atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque that can block Arteries
and lead to Heart
attack or Stroke
. In animal studies, an extract of turmeric lowered Cholesterol
levels and kept LDL (bad) Cholesterol
from building up in Blood vessel
s. Because it stops platelets from clumping together, turmeric may also prevent blood clots from building up along the walls of Arteries
. But a double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that taking curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, at a dose of up to 4 g per day did not improve Cholesterol
There has been a great deal of research on turmeric's anti-Cancer
properties, but results are still very preliminary. Evidence from test tube and animal studies suggests that curcumin may help prevent or treat several types of Cancer
s, including Prostate
, breast, Skin
, and Colon Cancer
. Tumeric's preventive effects may relate to its Antioxidant
properties, which protect cells from damage. More research is needed. Cancer
should be treated with conventional medications. Don't use alternative therapies alone to treat Cancer
. If you choose to use complementary therapies along with your Cancer
treatment, make sure you tell all your doctors.
l and Viral Infection
Test tube and animal studies suggest turmeric may kill Bacteria
es, but researchers don't know whether it would work in people.
A preliminary study suggests curcumin may help treat uveitis, an Inflammation
of the eye's iris. Preliminary research suggests that curcumin may be as effective as corticosteroids, the type of medication usually prescribed. More research is needed.
Tumeric's powerful Antioxidant
, and circulatory effects may help prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer
disease, Multiple Sclerosis
, and other conditions.
A relative of ginger, turmeric is a perennial plant that grows 5 to 6 feet high in the tropical regions of Southern Asia, with trumpet-shaped, dull yellow flowers. Its roots are bulbs that also produce rhizomes, which then produce stems and roots for new plants. Turmeric is fragrant and has a bitter, somewhat sharp taste. Although it grows in many tropical locations, the majority of turmeric is grown in India, where it is used as a main ingredient in curry.
The roots, or rhizomes and bulbs, are used in medicine and food. They are generally boiled and then dried, turning into the familiar yellow powder. Curcumin, the active ingredient, has Antioxidant
properties. Other substances in this herb have Antioxidant
properties as well.
Turmeric is available in the following forms:
Capsules containing powder
Bromelain increases the absorption and Anti-inflammatory
effects of curcumin, so it is often combined with turmeric products.
How to Take It
Turmeric supplements haven't been studied in children, so there is no recommended dose.
The following doses are recommended for adults:
Cut root: 1.5 to 3 g per day
Dried, powdered root: 1 to 3 g per day
Standardized powder (curcumin): 400 to 600 mg, 3 times per day
Fluid extract (1:1) 30 to 90 drops a day
Tincture (1:2): 15 to 30 drops, 4 times per day
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs can trigger side effects and may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
Turmeric in food is considered safe.
Turmeric and curcumin supplements are considered safe when taken at the recommended doses. However, taking large amounts of turmeric for long periods of time may cause Stomach
upset and, in extreme cases, Ulcers
. People who have gallStones
or obstruction of the bile passages should talk to their doctor before taking turmeric.
If you have Diabetes
, talk to your doctor before taking turmeric supplements. Turmeric may lower Blood Sugar
levels. When combined with medications for Diabetes
, turmeric could cause hypoglycemia (low Blood Sugar
Although it is safe to eat foods with turmeric, Pregnant
and breastfeeding women should not take turmeric supplements.
Because turmeric may act like a blood thinner, you should stop taking it at least 2 weeks before surgery. Tell your doctor and surgeon that you have been taking turmeric.
If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use turmeric or curcumin in medicinal forms without first talking to your health care provider.
Blood-thinning medications -- Turmeric may strengthen the effects of these drugs, raising the risk of Bleeding
. Blood thinners include warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin, among others.
Drugs that reduce Stomach
acid -- Turmeric may interfere with the action of these drugs, increasing the production of Stomach
Medications -- Turmeric may strengthen the effects of these drugs, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia (low Blood Sugar
Aggarwal BB. Curcumin-free tumeric exhibits Anti-inflammatory
activities: Identification of novel components of tumeric. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013; 57:1529-42.
Aggarwal BB, Sundaram C, Malani N, Ichikawa H. Curcumin: the Indian solid gold. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:1-75.
Asai A, Miyazawa T. Dietary curcuminoids prevent high-fat diet-induced lipid accumulation in rat Liver
and epididymal adipose tissue. J Nutr. 2001;131:2932-2935.
Asher GN, Spelman K. Clinical utility of curcumin extract. Altern Ther Health Med. 2013;19:20-2.
Baum L, et al. Curcumin effects on blood lipid profile in a 6-month human study. Pharmacol Res. 2007;56:509-14.
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:379-384.
Bolognia: Dermatology, 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
Curcuma longa (turmeric). Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2001;6 Suppl:S62-S66.
Darvesh AS, Aggarwal BB, Bishayee A. Curcumin and Liver Cancer
: A Review. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2011 Apr 5. [Epub ahead of print]
Davis JM, Murphy EA, Carmichael MD, Zielinski MR, Groschwitz CM, Brown AS, Ghaffar A, Mayer EP. Curcumin effects on Inflammation
and performance recovery following eccentric exercise-induced Muscle
damage. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Mar 1 [Epub ahead of print]
Dorai T, Cao YC, Dorai B, Buttyan R, Katz AE. Therapeutic potential of curcumin in human Prostate Cancer
. III. Curcumin inhibits proliferation, induces apoptosis, and inhibits angiogenesis of LNCaP Prostate Cancer
cells in vivo. Prostate
Dorai T, Gehani N, Katz A. Therapeutic potential of curcumin in human Prostate Cancer
. II. Curcumin inhibits tyrosine kinase activity of epidermal growth factor receptor and depletes the protein. Mol Urol. 2000;4:1-6.
Funk JL, Frye JB, Oyarzo JN, Kuscuoglu N, Wilson J, McCaffrey G, et al. Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental Arthrit
is Rheum. 2006;54:3452-64.
Gautam SC, Gao X, Dulchavsky S. Immunodilation by curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:321-41.
Gescher A J, Sharma R A, Steward W P. Cancer
chemoprevention by dietary constituents: a tale of failure and promise. Lancet Oncol. 2001;2:371-379.
Goel A, Kunnumakkara AB, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin as "Curecumin": from kitchen to clinic. Biochem Pharmacol. 2008;75:787-809.
Hanai H, Iida T, Takeuchi K, Watanabe F, Maruyama Y, Andoh A, et al. Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative Colitis
: randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006;4:1502-6.
Handler N, Jaeger W, Puschacher H, Leisser K, Erker T. Synthesis of novel curcumin analogues and their evaluation as selective cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) inhibitors. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2007;55:64-71.
Heck AM, DeWitt BA, Lukes AL. Potential interactions between alternative therapies and warfarin. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2000;57:1221-1227.
Jagetia GC, Aggarwal BB. "Spicing up" of the Immune
system by curcumin. J Clin Immunol. 2007;27:19-35.
Johnson JJ, Mukhtar H. Curcumin for chemoprevention of Colon Cancer
Lett. 2007 Apr 18; [Epub ahead of print]
Kapakos G, Youreva V, Srivastava AK. CardioVascular
protection by curcumin: molecular aspects. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2012; 49:306-15.
Kim DS, Kim JY, Han Y. Curcuminoids in neurodegenerative diseases. Recent Pat CNS Drug Discov. 2012; 7:184-204.
Kim MS, Kang HJ, Moon A. Inhibition of invasion and induction of apoptosis by curcumin in H-ras-transformed MCF10A human breast epithelial cells. Arch Pharm Res. 2001;24:349-354.
Krishnaswamy K. Traditional Indian spices and their health significance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:265-8.
Nagaraju GP, Aliya S, Zafar SF, Basha R, Diaz R, El-Rayes BF. The impact of curcumin on breast Cancer
. Integr Biol (Camb). 2012; 4:996-1007.
Pari L, Tewas D, Eckel J. Role of curcumin in health and disease. Arch Physiol Biochem. 2008;114:127-49.
Phan TT, See P, Lee ST, Chan SY. Protective effects of curcumin against oxidative damage on Skin
cells in vitro: its implication for Wound
healing. J Trauma 2001;51:927-931.
Rakel D. Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
Rao CV. Regulation of COX and LOX by curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:213-26.
Sharma RA, Ireson CR, Verschoyle RD. Effects of dietary curcumin on glutathione S-Transferase and Malondialdehyde-DNA adducts in rat Liver
mucosa: relationship with drug levels. Clin Cancer
Sharma RA, Steward WP, Gescher AJ. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:453-70.
Shehzad A, Khan S, Shehzad O, Lee YS. Curcumin therapeutic promises and bioavailability in colorectal Cancer
. Drugs Today (Barc). 2010;46:523-32. Review.
Shehzad A, Lee J, Lee YS. Curcumin in various Cancer
s. Biofactors. 2013; 39:56-68.
Shehzad A, Rehman G, Lee YS. Curcumin in inflammatory diseases. Biofactors. 2013; 39:69-77.
Shishodia S, Singh T, Chaturvedi MM. Modulation of transcription factors by curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:127-48.
Su CC, Lin JG, Li TM, Chung JG, Yang JS, Ip SW, et al. Curcumin-induced apoptosis of human Colon Cancer
colo 205 cells through the production of ROS, Ca2+ and the activation of caspase-3. AntiCancer
Suryanarayana P, Satyanarayana A, Balakrishna N, Kumar PU, Reddy GB. Effect of turmeric and curcumin on oxidative Stress
enzymes in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat. Med Sci Monit. 2007;13:BR286-92.
White B, Judkins DZ. Clinical Inquiry. Does turmeric relieve inflammatory conditions? J Fam Pract. 2011;60:155-6. Review.
Zafir A, Banu N. Antioxidant
potential of fluoxetine in comparison to