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 Enzyme
s 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 osteoArthritis Pain
. 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 Acid
Medications -- Turmeric may strengthen the effects of these drugs, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia (low Blood Sugar
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