Turmeric is one of the most used spices in Asian cuisine. This yellow spice has been hailed for its healing properties for centuries. A turmeric latte is touted for its myriad health benefits. Turmeric contains several anti-inflammatory compounds collectively called curcuminoids. It is used as a natural remedy for several conditions, including aches and pains, fever, arthritis, itching and managing high cholesterol. Turmeric, however, may do more harm than good if a person has certain health conditions or is taking certain medications. This is specifically true if turmeric is taken as a supplement in a tablet or lozenge form (which has a higher concentration of curcuminoids). Hence, consult a doctor before trying any herbal or natural products including turmeric.
If taking any blood pressure medicines, ask the doctor to know if turmeric can be taken as well. The turmeric may cause the levels of some blood pressure medications to spike. This is because turmeric lowers the activity of an enzyme system called P450 3A4 or CYP3A4 in the liver. This, in turn, increases the effects and side effects of blood pressure medications, such as
- Calcium channel blockers (including diltiazem, nicardipine and verapamil)
- Angiotensin II receptor antagonists (such as losartan)
Furthermore, cells have certain pumps (called P glycoprotein pumps) that transport some blood pressure medications (such as diltiazem and verapamil). Turmeric retards this movement of the drug inside the cell, which leads to an increased blood concentration of the drug. This may increase the risk of the side effects of the medication.
Can any other health supplements interfere with the blood pressure medications?
Several medications with varying mechanisms of action are available to manage blood pressure. While on any of these medications, a doctor’s approval is a must before taking any natural remedies or supplements along with them. Some of the other herbal supplements that may be dangerous along with medications for high blood pressure are:
- Ginseng: This ancient herb is popular for its potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Certain studies have suggested that ginseng may cause changes in blood pressure as well (raise or lower it). Hence, avoid the herb if there are blood pressure concerns or if taking medications for high blood pressure.
- Bitter orange: It is native to Asia and is popular for its alleged role in promoting weight loss and improving athletic performance although no evidence exists to support either. This supplement has been banned by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) due to its role in increasing the heart rate and blood pressure and the potential to cause cardiovascular side effects, such as heart attack and stroke.
- Ephedra: This is another alleged weight-loss supplement that has been banned in the United States. It has several safety concerns, such as raising the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, seizures and heart attack.
- Ma-huang: It is a Chinese supplement that contains ephedra and has similar safety concerns, such as a higher risk of high blood pressure, stroke, seizures and heart attack.
- St. John's wort: It is a flowering plant that has been used for centuries for managing mental health conditions, including depression. It increases metabolism. This may cause a faster metabolism of blood pressure medications, thereby decreasing their therapeutic effect. This may increase blood pressure.
- Yohimbine: It is a supplement derived from an African evergreen tree. It has been used in the past for treating erectile dysfunction. It has several safety concerns, including the ability to raise blood pressure. Thus, it may counter the effect of blood pressure medications.
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RxList. Turmeric. https://www.rxlist.com/turmeric/supplements.htm#HowDoesItWork