Turmeric Health Benefits

The health benefits of turmeric are wide ranging. Turmeric acts as an anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and anticancer agent.

If turmeric could be patented and sold as a drug, you would have heard about it long before now! Fortunately this means you can find it as an inexpensive powder at many grocers and try it for yourself.

Over 2,000 studies of turmeric have been published; and over 7,000 on curcumin, the active ingredient in this spice. Research in the laboratory, in animals, and in human trials is finding that curcumin:

  • Lowers blood sugar and inflammation
  • Inhibits the growth of almost ALL types of cancer cells
  • Works as well as aspirin, ibuprofen and Celebrex
  • Relieves pain from arthritis, injury, headache, muscle sprains and swelling

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a positive response to a tissue injury or an infection in the body. In most cases inflammation goes away on its own as you heal. But when inflammation persists instead of going away, it can lead to many chronic, even life threatening diseases.

To treat chronic inflammation and the problems it causes, many anti-inflammatory drugs have been developed. Unfortunately these drugs don't get at the cause of the problem (often diet related) and bring unwanted side effects of their own when taken over a long period of time.

Turmeric (curcumin) is being studied as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs because is has few side effects, even in high doses, and works effectively in so many ways.

What is the best turmeric dosage?

There is no standard dose for turmeric, but in clinical studies the typical dose is 500 mg 2-4 times daily (for a total of 1-2 grams/day). HINT: Add a small amount of black pepper (piperine) to turmeric powder. This will boost your body's absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. By itself, curcumin in not very bioactive (easy for your body to digest and use), so eating it as a food rather than as by itself is the best way to go.

People in India generally consume 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of turmeric a day. Their rates of cancer and Alzheimer's disease are significantly lower than in the United States. Their high consumption of turmeric (eaten at nearly every meal in India) may be part of the reason.

Turmeric tastes great in curries and is an ingredient in prepared mustard. I often add more turmeric powder to mustard (along with some pepper) so I can boost my intake of turmeric. Or I might add a 1/4 teaspoon to breakfast so I start the day right.

Does turmeric have any side effects?

Turmeric is considered safe, and non-toxic when eaten as a food.  Human trials using up to 8 grams of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) per day for three months found that it was well tolerated. There was no toxicity for curcumin.

However, in rare cases these side effects have been reported: diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, and upset stomach. You also should avoid turmeric if you have any of these conditions:

  • Allergies to ginger (turmeric and ginger are closely related)
  • Bile duct obstruction
  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)
  • Gallbladder problems or gallstones
  • GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)
  • Jaundice
  • Pregnant or Breastfeeding
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Surgery is planned during the next few weeks

Possible Drug Interactions

If you are taking any of these medications, you should not use turmeric or curcumin without  talking to your pharmacist or health care provider first.

Blood Thinning Medications
(anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs)
Turmeric may cause these drugs to have a stronger effect, raising the risk of bleeding and bruising.

  • Advil
  • Anaprox
  • Aspirin
  • Cataflam
  • Clopidogrel
  • Coumadin
  • Dalteparin
  • Diclofenac
  • Enoxaparin
  • Fragmin
  • Heparin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Lovenox
  • Motrin
  • Naprosyn
  • Naproxen 
  • Plavix
  • Voltaren
  • Warfarin

Drugs to Reduce Stomach Acid
Turmeric may interfere with the action of these drugs because it increases the production of stomach acid:

  • Cimetidine
  • Esomeprazole
  • Famotidine
  • Lansoprazole
  • Nexium
  • Omeprazole
  • Pepcid
  • Prevacid
  • Ranitidine 
  • Tagamet
  • Zantac

REFERENCES

Aggarwal, Bharat, 2011. Healing Spices. 1st ed. New York: Sterling Publishing Company, Incorporated.

Turmeric: MedlinePlus Supplements. 2014.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/662.html

Turmeric | University of Maryland Medical Center
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric#ixzz2vyAxhrUZ 

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