Turmeric has gained popularity as both a flavorful spice and a health supplement that can be used for a wide variety of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, heartburn and even cancer.
But if you’re planning to take turmeric for its medicinal benefits, you should be aware that its main active ingredient curcumin has the potential to react negatively with certain medications.
Turmeric is a blood thinner. So if you are on other blood-thinning medications, you shouldn’t take turmeric or turmeric supplements because doing that could increase your risk of bleeding and bruising or even make the other medications less effective.
Blood thinners include:
- Coumadin (Warfarin)
- Plavix (Clopidogrel)
- Voltaren, Cataflam and others (Diclofenac)
- Advil, Motrin and others (Ibuprofen)
- Anaprox, Naprosyn and others (Naproxen)
- Fragmin (Dalteparin)
- Lovenox (Enoxaparin)
Who should avoid taking turmeric (or curcumin) supplements?
You should avoid taking turmeric if you have certain health conditions, including:
- Bleeding problems: Turmeric can slow down blood clotting. People with bleeding disorders should avoid turmeric even if they aren’t on other blood thinners. Since turmeric can increase bleeding during and after surgery, it’s also recommended to stop taking curcumin supplements at least 2 weeks before a planned surgery
- Gallbladder problems: Turmeric may increase bile secretion and worsen gallstones, cholangitis (inflammation of the bile duct), bile duct obstruction and other biliary diseases
- Pregnancy: Turmeric acts as a uterine stimulant, so it can induce contractions that result in miscarriage.
- Anemia: Since turmeric can impede iron absorption, turmeric supplements shouldn’t be taken with iron supplements.
How much turmeric can you take daily?
While regularly consuming turmeric in foods is fine, you should be careful when consuming it as a supplement, since it likely has a higher concentration of curcumin. Turmeric spices contain around 3% curcumin while supplements may contain up to 95% curcumin.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of no more than 1.4 milligrams curcucmin per pound (0-3 mg/kg) of body weight. Most turmeric products recommend about 500 milligrams daily.
However, since there is no one set amount that works for everyone, you should talk to your doctor before trying herbal supplements that contain turmeric or curcumin. The right dosage for you will depend on your overall health, existing health conditions and your reason for taking the supplement.
What are possible side effects of turmeric?
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Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017;6(10):92.