Turmeric is a spice that has been well-studied for its many medicinal properties over the past few years. In addition to bringing a vibrant color to recipes, turmeric is jam-packed with powerful compounds like curcumin that are responsible for the multitude of benefits associated with this superstar ingredient. While there are plenty of positive ways that turmeric can impact your health, there are also several potential turmeric side effects that need to be taken into account as well, especially when using high doses or starting supplementation.
So what are the side effects of turmeric? Here are the top 10 serious side effects of turmeric, both good and bad, plus how to use turmeric to help improve your health.
Top 7 Positive Turmeric Side Effects
There are plenty of side effects of turmeric/curcumin to consider, many of which can actually be beneficial. Let’s start by exploring a few of the positive turmeric supplement side effects and why you may want to consider upping your intake.
1. Decreases Inflammation
Curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, has been shown to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, it can help block the activity of several enzymes involved in the inflammation process, which could have far-reaching effects on the prevention of chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
2. Fights Depression
Some research suggests that turmeric may have powerful mood-boosting effects and could be especially beneficial in the treatment of certain mental health conditions. For example, a review published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association found that supplementation with curcumin was well-tolerated and able to decrease symptoms of both depression and anxiety in adults.
3. Improves Skin Health
Thanks to its ability to relieve inflammation, there are numerous potential turmeric benefits for skin. It may even be effective in the treatment of inflammatory skin problems like acne, psoriasis and dermatitis. A 2016 animal model out of China found that treating mice with curcumin reduced several markers of inflammation and helped significantly improve symptoms of psoriasis, a condition characterized by scaly, itchy dry patches and rashes on the skin.
4. Lowers Blood Sugar
According to a review published in the International Journal of Endocrinology Metabolism, curcumin can help stabilize blood sugar levels through several different mechanisms. In particular, curcumin is thought to decrease the production of glucose, increase insulin secretion, reduce inflammation and optimize the uptake of sugar, all of which can help promote better blood sugar control.
5. Reduces Joint Pain
One of the most powerful side effects of turmeric supplements is the ability to decrease inflammation and reduce chronic pain, especially for those with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes pain, swelling and redness in the joints. A study conducted by the Nirmala Medical Centre in India actually found that curcumin helped reduce joint swelling and tenderness in those with rheumatoid arthritis. It was even more effective than diclofenac sodium, a medication commonly used to treat chronic pain.
6. Decreases Cholesterol Levels
Turmeric can support heart health by helping balance cholesterol levels, preventing plaque buildup in the arteries and promoting blood flow throughout the body. In fact, one study out of Indonesia actually showed that administering 15 milligrams of curcumin three times daily decreased levels of both total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.
7. Aids Digestion
Several studies have found that turmeric can improve digestion and foster a healthy gut. Not only can it reduce gut inflammation to protect against issues like irritable bowel syndrome, but it may also help preserve gut permeability to aid in the prevention of leaky gut syndrome.
Top 3 Negative Turmeric Side Effects
Although there are plenty of beneficial side effects of turmeric, there are some adverse turmeric/curcumin side effects that need to be considered as well. So what are the side effects of turmeric supplements? Let’s take a look at a few of the most common negative symptoms associated with this super spice.
1. Reduced Blood Clotting
Turmeric helps thin the blood, which can be useful for those with blood-clotting disorders, such as thrombophilia. However, this could increase the risk of excessive bleeding and may interact with anticoagulants, such as coumadin or Warfarin. Therefore, it’s important to consult with your doctor prior to consumption if you are taking any of these medications or suffer from any conditions related to blood clotting.
2. Not Suitable for Pregnancy
When used in normal food amounts, turmeric can be a safe and effective way to add a dose of flavor and health benefits to your meals. However, in supplemental form, it is not suitable for pregnant women as it may potentially stimulate contractions. Although research on the effects of turmeric supplementation during pregnancy are very limited, it’s best to stick to turmeric as a seasoning instead of a supplement to reduce the risk of turmeric powder side effects while pregnant.
3. Digestive Issues
Digestive issues like nausea, diarrhea and stomach pain are a few of the most common turmeric tea side effects. This is because turmeric is thought to increase the secretion of stomach acid, which could potentially cause digestive distress in some people. If you do notice any of these negative side effects, it’s best to decrease your dosage and see if symptoms persist.
How Much Turmeric Can You Take a Day?
Adding a sprinkle of turmeric to your foods here and there is a simple and effective method for how to take turmeric and boost the benefits of your favorite dishes. You can use it to brighten up stir-fries, omelets or roasted vegetables. It can even be used to brew up a cup of turmeric tea or milk. Not only is it delicious and versatile, but using it in spice form is also the best way to minimize the risk of negative symptoms and prevent any potential turmeric tea or turmeric milk side effects.
However, keep in mind that turmeric spice contains a very small amount of curcumin, which is the chemical that is responsible for the many benefits associated with turmeric. In fact, according to one study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, turmeric powder contains only about 3 percent curcumin by weight.
Turmeric in supplement form is also available, making it even easier to squeeze your daily dose into a single serving. Although there are no official recommendations or guidelines set for turmeric dosage, most studies have found that 500–2,000 milligrams per day of turmeric extract may be most effective. Be sure to look for a supplement that also contains piperine, which is a compound found in black pepper that helps boost curcumin absorption to maximize the potential benefits.
Turmeric can have a powerful impact on health and has been associated with a number of side effects, both good and bad. While it can have positive effects on cholesterol levels, blood sugar, inflammation and more, taking high doses may cause digestive issues and is not suitable for those who are pregnant or taking anticoagulants.
Although there is no official recommended turmeric dosage for inflammation and improved health, most studies show that taking 500–2,000 milligrams per day of turmeric extract could be beneficial. As always, however, it’s best to start with a lower dosage and work your way up gradually to assess your tolerance and reduce the risk of side effects. Additionally, if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, talk to your doctor before starting supplementation.
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