Learn more about TURMERIC uses, effectiveness, possible side effects, interactions, dosage, user ratings and products that contain TURMERIC. Find out more about complementary medicines and the top five that people contact us about.
TURMERIC – Uses, Side Effects, and More
Turmeric is a common spice that comes from the root of Curcuma longa. It contains a chemical called curcumin, which might reduce swelling.
Turmeric has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. Because curcumin and other chemicals in turmeric might decrease swelling, it is often used to treat conditions that involve pain and inflammation.
People commonly use turmeric for osteoarthritis. It is also used for hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, a type of liver disease, and itching, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses. There is also no good evidence to support using turmeric for COVID-19.
Don’t confuse turmeric with Javanese turmeric root or tree turmeric. Also, don’t confuse it with zedoary or goldenseal, which are unrelated plants that are sometimes called turmeric.
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
. Taking turmeric by mouth seems to reduce hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestion.
- Depression. Most research shows that taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, by mouth reduces depression symptoms in people already using an antidepressant.
- High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Taking turmeric by mouth seems to lower levels of blood fats called triglycerides. But the effects of turmeric on cholesterol levels are conflicting. Also, there are many different turmeric products available. It is not known which ones work best.
- Buildup of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Taking turmeric extract by mouth reduces markers of liver injury in people who have this condition. It also seems to help prevent the build-up of more fat in the liver.
- Swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). Taking curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, by mouth, or as a lozenge or mouthwash, seems to prevent swelling and sores in the mouth during radiation treatment for cancer.
- Osteoarthritis. Taking turmeric extracts, alone or together with other herbal ingredients, can reduce pain and improve function in people with knee osteoarthritis. Turmeric might work about as well as ibuprofen for reducing pain. But it doesn’t seem to work as well as another drug, called diclofenac.
- Itching. Taking turmeric by mouth might reduce itching that is caused by various conditions.
Possibly Ineffective for
. Taking turmeric, or a chemical in turmeric called curcumin, by mouth does not seem to improve symptoms of Alzheimer disease. ulcers. Taking turmeric by mouth does not seem to improve stomach ulcers.
When taken by mouth: Turmeric is likely safe when used short-term. Turmeric products that provide up to 8 grams of curcumin daily seem to be safe when used for up to 2 months, Also, taking up to 3 grams of turmeric daily seems to be safe when used for up to 3 months. Turmeric usually doesn’t cause serious side effects. Some people can experience mild side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. These side effects are more common at higher doses.
When applied to the skin: Turmeric is likely safe. It is possibly safe when turmeric is applied inside the mouth as a mouthwash.
When applied into the rectum: Turmeric is possibly safe when used as an enema.
Special Precautions and Warnings
When taken by mouth: Turmeric is likely safe when used short-term. Turmeric products that provide up to 8 grams of curcumin daily seem to be safe when used for up to 2 months, Also, taking up to 3 grams of turmeric daily seems to be safe when used for up to 3 months. Turmeric usually doesn’t cause serious side effects. Some people can experience mild side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. These side effects are more common at higher doses.
When applied to the skin: Turmeric is likely safe. It is possibly safe when turmeric is applied inside the mouth as a mouthwash.
When applied into the rectum: Turmeric is possibly safe when used as an enema.
Pregnancy: Turmeric is commonly used in small amounts as a spice in foods. But it’s likely unsafe to use larger amounts of turmeric as a medicine during pregnancy. It might cause a menstrual period or stimulate the uterus, putting the pregnancy at risk. Do not take medicinal amounts of turmeric if you are pregnant.
Breast-feeding: Turmeric is commonly used in small amounts as a spice in foods. But there isn’t enough reliable information to know if turmeric is safe to use in medicinal amounts during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Gallbladder problems: Turmeric can make gallbladder problems worse. Do not use turmeric if you have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction.
Bleeding problems: Taking turmeric might slow blood clotting. This might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, which might act like the hormone estrogen. In theory, this might have effects on hormone-sensitive conditions. Until more is known, use cautiously if you have a condition that might be made worse by exposure to hormones.
Infertility: Turmeric might lower testosterone levels and decrease sperm movement. This might reduce fertility. Turmeric should be used cautiously by people trying to have a baby.
Liver disease: There is some concern that turmeric can damage the liver, especially in people who have liver disease. Don’t use turmeric if you have liver problems.
Surgery: Turmeric might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using turmeric at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Be cautious with this combination
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might slow blood clotting. Taking turmeric along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might lower blood sugar levels. Taking turmeric along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.
Talinolol interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might decrease how much talinolol the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking talinolol might decrease the effects of talinolol.
Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might increase how much sulfasalazine the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking sulfasalazine might increase the effects and side effects of sulfasalazine.
Tacrolimus (Prograf) interacts with TURMERIC
Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with TURMERIC
Warfarin is used to slow blood clotting. Taking turmeric while taking warfarin might increase the effects of warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding and bruising.
Medications for cancer (Alkylating agents) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric is an antioxidant. There is some concern that antioxidants might decrease the effects of some medications used for cancer. If you are taking medications for cancer, check with your healthcare provider before taking turmeric.
Medications for cancer (Antitumor antibiotics) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric is an antioxidant. There is some concern that antioxidants might decrease the effects of medications used for cancer. If you are taking medications for cancer, check with your healthcare provider before taking turmeric.
Medications for cancer (Topoisomerase I inhibitors) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric is an antioxidant. There is some concern that antioxidants might decrease the effectiveness of some medications used for cancers. If you are taking medications for cancer, check with your healthcare provider before taking turmeric.
Amlodipine (Norvasc) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might increase how much amlodipine the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking amlodipine might increase the effects and side effects of amlodipine.
Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might harm the liver. Some medications can also harm the liver. Taking turmeric along with a medication that can harm the liver might increase the risk of liver damage.
Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might decrease how much tamoxifen is in the body. Taking turmeric with tamoxifen might decrease the effects of tamoxifen.
Be watchful with this combination
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) substrates) interacts with TURMERIC
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Turmeric might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with TURMERIC
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Turmeric might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with TURMERIC
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Turmeric might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Estrogens interacts with TURMERIC
Large amounts of turmeric might interfere with the effects of estrogen. Taking turmeric along with estrogen might decrease the effects of estrogens.
Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
Norfloxacin (Noroxin) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might increase how much norfloxacin the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking norfloxacin might increase the effects and side effects of norfloxacin.
Medications moved by pumps in cells (P-Glycoprotein Substrates) interacts with TURMERIC
Some medications are moved in and out of cells by pumps. Turmeric might change how these pumps work and change how much medication stays in the body. In some cases, this might change the effects and side effects of a medication.
Paclitaxel (Abraxane, Onxol) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might change how much paclitaxel stays in the body. Taking turmeric while taking paclitaxel might change the effects and side effects of paclitaxel. However, this doesn’t seem to be a big concern.
Docetaxel (Taxotere) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric might increase how much docetaxel the body absorbs. Taking turmeric while taking docetaxel might increase the effects and side effects of docetaxel.
Glyburide (Diabeta, others) interacts with TURMERIC
Turmeric contains curcumin. Curcumin might lower blood sugar. Glyburide is also used to lower blood sugar. Taking curcumin or turmeric along with glyburide might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. Your dose of glyburide might need to be changed.
Turmeric has most often been used by adults in doses of up to 1.5 grams daily for up to 9 months. It is also sometimes used in mouthwashes, gels, creams, and tonics. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.
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Complementary treatments and arthritis – from turmeric to cannabis oil
People use complementary medicine for many different reasons, including:
- wanting to use more natural treatments
- their symptoms aren’t fully controlled by conventional medicine.
Read more about complementary therapies which can help to ease the symptoms of arthritis, from yoga to meditation.
Are they right for me?
As with all complementary treatments, different things work for different people and it isn’t possible to predict which might be the most useful or effective.
There are some key points to consider if you’re thinking about using any complementary treatments.
- What are you hoping to achieve? Pain relief? More energy? Better sleep? Reduction in medication?
- What are the financial costs?
- Is there any evidence for their effectiveness?
Are complementary medicines safe?
Complementary medicines are relatively safe, although you should always talk to your doctor before you start any new treatment.
In specific cases they may not be recommended, for example, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or they may interact with certain medication.
A starter for five
Here we share a spotlight on the most popular complementary medicines that people call our helpline about.
It’s thought that turmeric can possibly reduce inflammation, which could help people with arthritis.
People with knee osteoarthritis who took part in a research trial reported improvements to their pain levels after taking turmeric. The evidence is limited however, as it is from just one trial. What evidence there is suggested that people only had minor side-effects after taking turmeric.
Turmeric can be bought from health food shops, pharmacies and supermarkets in the form of powder.
Glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride are nutritional supplements. Animal studies have found that glucosamine can both delay the breakdown of and repair damaged cartilage.
The results for the use of glucosamine for osteoarthritis are mixed and the size of the effect is modest. There’s some evidence that more recent trials and those using higher-quality methods are less likely to show a benefit.
Capsaicin is taken from chilli peppers. It works mainly by reducing Substance P, a pain transmitter in your nerves. Results from randomised controlled trials assessing its role in treating osteoarthritis suggest that it can be effective in reducing pain and tenderness in affected joints, and it has no major safety problems. Evidence for its effectiveness for fibromyalgia is related to a single trial.
Other names: Axsain®, Zacin®, chilli, pepper gel, cayenne
Capsaicin is licensed in the UK for osteoarthritis and you can get it on prescription in the form of gels, creams and plasters.
There are no major safety concerns in applying capsaicin gel/cream. A review of capsaicin applied to the skin to treat chronic pain (not specifically related to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia) concluded that around one third of people experience a reaction around the area where the treatment is applied. It’s important to keep capsaicin away from your eyes, mouth and open wounds because it will cause irritation. There have been no reported drug interactions.
Fish oils are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Fish liver oil is also a rich source of vitamin A (a strong antioxidant) and vitamin D (which is important for maintaining healthy joints).
Evidence suggests that fish body oil can improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Unconfirmed evidence also suggests a combination of fish body and liver oils might also be useful in the long term, particularly in reducing the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). There isn’t enough evidence for the use of fish liver oil for osteoarthritis.
Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood, so they can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in people with inflammatory arthritis.
In the UK, dietary guidelines recommend eating two portions of fish a week, including one oily. Fish oil is considered to be well tolerated at this dose.
At the correct doses, side-effects are usually minor and uncommon.
Cannabis oil (CBD)
CBD is type of cannabinoid – a natural substance extracted from the cannabis plant and often mixed with an oil (such as coconut or hemp) to create CBD oil. It does not contain the psychoactive compound called tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) which is associated with the feeling of being ‘high’.
Research in cannabinoids over the years suggests that they can be effective in treating certain types of chronic pain such as pain from nerve injury, but there is currently not enough evidence to support using cannabinoids in reducing musculoskeletal pain. We welcome further research to better understand its impact and are intently following developments internationally.
CBD oil can be legally bought as a food supplement in the UK from heath food shops and some pharmacies. However, CBD products are not licensed as a medicine for use in arthritis by MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority) or approved by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) or the SMC (Scottish Medicines consortium).
We know anecdotally from some people with arthritis, that CBD has reduced their symptoms. If you’re considering using CBD to manage the pain of your arthritis, it’s important to remember it cannot replace your current medicines, and it may interact with them, so please do not stop/start taking anything without speaking to a healthcare professional.
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