Turmeric has long been used in traditional eastern medicine for its health benefits. Curcumin, which is the main bioactive component in turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.
However, while turmeric and curcumin are generally safe to consume, too much of a good thing can be dangerous. Taking turmeric in large doses has potential risks:
- Mild side effects include upset stomach, acid reflux, diarrhea, dizziness and headaches.
- Consuming large doses of turmeric supplements can significantly increase the levels of urinary oxalate, increasing the risk of kidney stone formation.
- Since turmeric acts as a blood thinner, it should be avoided if you have a bleeding disorder.
- Turmeric can interact negatively with medications including blood thinners, antidepressants, antibiotics, antihistamines, cardiac medications and chemotherapy treatments. It can also interfere with diabetes medications and result in dangerously low blood sugar levels.
- Turmeric can aggravate stomach problems, such as acid reflux and gallstones.
- Since turmeric limits iron absorption, you shouldn’t take it if you are on iron supplements.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can eat food that contains turmeric as a spice but should avoid taking turmeric supplements. These supplements may stimulate uterus contractions and cause complications.
How much turmeric is safe to consume?
Studies that show the health benefits of turmeric use turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin in doses exceeding 1 gram per day. Since it’s difficult to consume that much naturally in a regular diet, turmeric is often taken as a supplement, where the curcumin content is much higher.
Generally speaking, an acceptable amount of curcumin supplement to take on a daily basis is about 1.4 milligrams per pound of body weight, up to 12 grams. Anything more than that can cause you to have adverse reactions.
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WebMD. Turmeric. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-662/turmeric
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Turmeric. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/turmeric
Keith S. Turmeric. Nutrition Today. 2020; 55(1): 45-56. https://journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/fulltext/2020/01000/turmeric__potential_health_benefits.9.aspx