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Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

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Also listed as: Curcuma longa
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Alantone, alpha-curcumene, alpha-turmerone, alpha-zingiberene, Amomum curcuma, anlatone, ar-curcumene, ar-tumerone, ar-turmerone, atlantone, beta-bisabolene, beta-caryophyllene, beta-curcumene, beta-sesquiphellandrene, beta-turmerin, beta-turmerone, bisacurone, bisdemethoxycurcumin, calebin, C.I. 75300, C.I. Natural Yellow 3, CUR, Curcuma, Curcuma aromatica, Curcuma domestica, curcuma long oil, Curcuma longa, Curcuma longa rhizoma, curcuma oil, curcumin, curcuminoids, curlone, dehydrozingerone, demethoxycurcumin, diaryl heptanoids, diferuloylmethane, E 100, e zhu, Gelbwurzel (German), germacrene, gurkemeje (Danish), haidr, halad (Marathi), haldar (Gujarati), haldi (Dogri, Hindi, Nepali, Punjabi, Urdu), halud (Bengali), haridra (Sanskrit), HSDB 4334, Indian saffron, Indian yellow root, jiang huang (Mandarin Chinese), jianghuang, kacha haldi, kunir (Indonesian), kunyit (Indonesian), Kurkumawurzelstock (German), kurkumin, kyoo (Japanese), merita earth, Number Ten (NT), oil of turmeric, olena, radix zedoaria longa, resveratrol, rhizome de curcuma, safran des Indes (French), sesquiterpenoids, shati, souchet, tumeric, tumerone, turmeric oil, turmeric root, turmeric yellow, turmerone, turmeronol A, ukon (Japanese), ukonan, yellow ginger, yellow root, yellowroot, yo-kin, yujin, zedoary, zerumbone, zingerone, Zingiberaceae (family), zingiberene, zingiberone, Zitterwurzel (German), zlut prirodni 3.
  • Combination product examples: Chinese herbal extract Number Ten is a dietary herbal formulation prepared from rhubarb, ginger, astragalus, red sage, and turmeric. Smoke Shield is a proprietary formulation containing extract of turmeric (Curcuma longa), extracts of green tea, and other herbs. Protandim is an antioxidant supplement that consists of ashwagandha, Bacopa extract, green tea extract, silymarin, and curcumin. Tiao ZhiAn mixture contains mixed volatile oils of Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort., Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels, and Curcuma longa L. Ilogen-Excel is composed of eight medicinal plants (Curcuma longa, Strychnos potatorum, Salacia oblonga, Tinospora cordifolia, Vetivelia zizanioides, Coscinium fenestratum, Andrographis paniculata, and Mimosa pudica). Purnark is a mixture of extracts of turmeric, betel leaf, and catechu. JCICM-6 contains turmeric, as well as Sinomenium acutum, Aconitum carmichaeli Debx., Paeonia lactiflora Pall., and Paeonia suffruticosa Andr.

Background
  • Turmeric is a spice, commonly used in Asian food, derived from the root of the turmeric (Curcuma longa) plant. Curcumin is the yellow-colored primary active constituent derived from turmeric and is commonly used to color foods and cosmetics.
  • The rhizome (root) of turmeric has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat gastrointestinal upset, arthritic pain, and "low energy." Although not well studied in humans, turmeric and its constituent curcumin have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, nerve protective, insecticidal, and anticancer properties. Preliminary human evidence suggests possible efficacy for dyspepsia (heartburn), high cholesterol, and scabies (when used on the skin).

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Early research suggests that turmeric may prevent the formation of blood clots. However, more research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Several early animal and laboratory studies report anticancer (colon, skin, breast) properties of curcumin. Many mechanisms have been considered, including antioxidant activity, prevention of new blood vessel growth, and direct effects on cancer cells. Currently it remains unclear if turmeric or curcumin has a role in preventing or treating human cancers. There are several ongoing studies in this area.

C


Curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and to reduce beta-amyloid and plaque burden in lab studies. However, there is currently not enough evidence to suggest the use of curcumin for cognitive performance.

C


Turmeric has been traditionally used to treat stomach problems (such as indigestion from a fatty meal). There is preliminary evidence that turmeric may offer some relief from these stomach problems. However, at high doses or with prolonged use, turmeric may actually irritate or upset the stomach. Reliable human research is necessary before a conclusion can be made.

C


Based on preliminary research using a combination herbal formula, turmeric may help lessen symptoms of eczema. However, the effect of turmeric alone has not been examined. Additional research is required before a conclusion can be made.

C


Based on early study using a combination herbal formula, turmeric may be helpful in the treatment of certain eye problems. Research has indicated that curcumin may also be beneficial. Despite these findings, data on the efficacy of turmeric alone remains limited.

C


It has been said that there are fewer people with gallstones in India, which is sometimes credited to turmeric in the diet. Early studies report that curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, may decrease the occurrence of gallstones. However, reliable human studies are lacking in this area. The use of turmeric may be inadvisable in patients with active gallstones.

C


Early studies suggest that turmeric may lower levels of low-density lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood. Better human studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Although not well studied in humans, turmeric and curcumin have both been identified as possessing anti-inflammatory properties. Reliable human research is lacking.

C


Preliminary research has suggested that turmeric may lessen symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). More studies are needed to verify these findings.

C


In traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has been used to tone the liver. Early research suggests that turmeric may have a protective effect on the liver, but more research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Turmeric has been used historically to treat rheumatic conditions. Although not well studied in humans, turmeric and its constituent curcumin may relieve symptoms associated with osteoarthritis due to their anti-inflammatory properties. More research in humans is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Turmeric has been used historically to treat stomach and duodenal ulcers. However, at high doses or with prolonged use, turmeric may actually further irritate or upset the stomach. Currently, there is not enough human evidence to make a firm conclusion.

C


Historically, turmeric has been used on the skin to treat chronic skin ulcers and scabies. It has also been used in combination with the leaves of the herb Azadirachta indica (neem). More research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be made.

C


Laboratory and animal studies show anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric and its constituent curcumin. A poorly designed human study suggests a possible benefit of curcumin in the treatment of uveitis, possibly due to the anti-inflammatory properties associated with turmeric and curcumin. Reliable human research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

C


Preliminary human study involving a combination product containing turmeric for weight loss has been conducted. At this time, high-quality studies using turmeric alone for weight loss are lacking. Additional research is required.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Abdominal bloating, abscess, acne, aging, alcohol abuse, allergy, amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal, antispasmodic, antivenom, antiviral, appetite stimulant, arthritis, ascaridiasis (worms in the gut or liver), asthma, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), boils, bruises, burns, cardiac conditions, cataracts, chemoprotective, childbirth (umbilical stump care), chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic obstructive lung disease, cognitive disorders, cold sores, colic, colon cancer, constipation, contraception, cosmetic uses, cough, Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, dementia, dental cavity prevention, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, dizziness, dry eye syndrome, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), epilepsy, expectorant (loosens mucus), fever, fistula, flavoring agent, food uses (coloring), gallstones, gas, gastric ulcers, gonorrhea, hair growth, heart damage from doxorubicin (Adriamycin®, Doxil®), infection, hematuria (blood in the urine), hemorrhage, hepatitis, high blood pressure, histological dye, human papillomavirus (HPV), immune function, increased sperm count/motility, increasing breast milk, infertility (bovine), insect bites, insect repellent, intestinal worms, jaundice, kidney disease, kidney dysfunction, kidney stones, kidney transplant, leprosy, liver disease, lung fibrosis, malaria, menopause, menstrual pain, multidrug resistance, multiple sclerosis, muscle ache, neurodegenerative disorders, neuropathy, nutritional support, obesity, organ dysfunction (due to sepsis), organ transplantation (immunosuppression), pain, pancreatitis, parasites, Parkinson's disease, prostate conditions, protection from tobacco smoke, rabies, radioprotection, respiratory disorders, rheumatic disorders, rhinitis (stuffy nose), ringworm, scar healing, scleroderma, sepsis, skin disorders, snakebite, soft tissue injuries, stroke prevention, toxicity (5-aminosalicyclic acids, 5-ASA), ulcerative colitis, urinary disorders, urolithiasis (kidney, bladder stones), vitiligo (loss of pigment in the skin), Wilson's disease, wound healing.

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

  • Traditional doses are in the range of 1.5-3 grams of turmeric root taken by mouth daily in divided doses. As a tea, 1-1.5 grams of dried root may be steeped in 150 milliliters of water for 15 minutes and taken by mouth twice daily. Average dietary intake of turmeric in the Indian population may range between 2 and 2.5 grams, corresponding to 60-200 milligrams of curcumin daily.
  • Various turmeric preparations have been taken by mouth: for cancer, 750 milligrams of turmeric twice daily; for heartburn, 250 milligrams of dried root powder (containing 0.02 milliliters of volatile oil and 0.024 grams of total curcuminoids) four times daily for seven days; for irritable bowel syndrome, 60 milligrams three times daily for 18 weeks; for sores of the mouth, 0.6 milliliters of turmeric oil three times daily for one month and one milliliter in three divided doses for two months; for osteoarthritis, two grams extract daily for six weeks; and for peptic ulcer disease, 250 milligrams of powdered turmeric root four times daily, or six grams of turmeric daily in three divided doses, or 300 milligrams of turmeric five times daily.
  • Turmeric has also been applied to the skin: for cancer, turmeric alcohol extract or 0.5% curcumin ointment in Vaseline® administered three times daily for up to four weeks; and for scabies, the affected area has been covered with a paste containing a 4:1 mixture of Azadirachta indica (neem) and turmeric for up to 15 days. Scabies should be treated under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • For scabies, the affected area has been covered with a paste containing a 4:1 mixture of Azadirachta indica (neem) and turmeric for up to 15 days. Scabies should be treated under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Allergic reactions to turmeric may occur, including contact dermatitis (an itchy rash) after skin or scalp exposure. People with allergies to plants in the Curcuma genus are more likely to have an allergic reaction to turmeric. Avoid in patients allergic to turmeric or any of its constituents (including curcumin), to yellow food colorings, or to plants in the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Turmeric is generally considered safe when used in amounts commonly found in foods. Turmeric may cause an upset stomach, especially in high doses or if given over a long period of time. Heartburn has been reported in patients being treated for stomach ulcers. Since turmeric is sometimes used for the treatment of heartburn or ulcers, caution may be necessary in some patients. Nausea and diarrhea have also been reported. In early studies, hair loss (alopecia) has been reported.
  • Turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Although not well studied in humans, a component of turmeric, curcumin, may increase liver function tests. However, one human study reports that turmeric has no effect on these tests. Use cautiously in patients with a compromised liver or decreased liver function.
  • Turmeric may weaken the immune system and should be used cautiously in patients with immune system deficiencies.
  • Turmeric may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Turmeric may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Turmeric may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Extracts of turmeric may decrease the production of sperm and fertility. Use cautiously in men.
  • Use cautiously in smokers or ex-smokers, in patients at risk for iron deficiency or kidney stones, or in patients with acquired metal storage diseases (including hepatitis C), vitiligo (loss of pigment in the skin), sensitivity to changes in hormone levels, or gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Use cautiously with cholesterol-lowering drugs or medications absorbed by p-glycoprotein.
  • Avoid in patients allergic to turmeric, any of its constituents (including curcumin), certain yellow food colorings, or to other members of the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family.
  • Avoid curcumin in doses over 8,000 milligrams daily.
  • Avoid in patients with bile duct obstruction or cholelithiasis.
  • Avoid in patients with gastric or duodenal ulcers or with gastric hyperacidity disorders.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Historically, turmeric has been considered safe when used as a spice in foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, turmeric has been found to cause uterine stimulation and to stimulate menstrual flow. Caution is therefore warranted during pregnancy. Although not well studied in humans, turmeric taken by mouth has not been shown to cause abnormal fetal development.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Turmeric may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Turmeric may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
  • Turmeric may lower blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol) and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good" cholesterol). Thus, turmeric may increase the effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs such as lovastatin (Mevacor®) or atorvastatin (Lipitor®).
  • Turmeric may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a healthcare professional or pharmacist about possible interactions.
  • Turmeric may also interact with acetaminophen, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, amiloride, antibiotics, anticancer drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarial drugs, calcium channel blockers, cardiovascular agents, celecoxib, ciprofloxacin, cisplatin, cyclodextrin, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, drugs that are toxic to the liver, drugs that suppress the immune system, drugs that widen blood vessels, erythromycin, erythropoietin, hormonal drugs, metronidazole, morphine, nifedipine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), norfloxacin, oxaliplatin, p-glycoprotein-regulated drugs, paclitaxel, polyethylene glycosylated curcumin, prulifloxacin, rapamycin, retinol, sulfinosine, talinolol, tamoxifen, taxol, thalidomide, trichostatin A, and vinorelbine.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, some cases with garlic, and fewer cases with saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Turmeric may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Turmeric may lower blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol) and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good" cholesterol). Thus, turmeric may increase the effects of cholesterol-lowering herbs or supplements such as fish oil, garlic, guggul, or niacin.
  • Turmeric may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
  • Turmeric cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Turmeric may also interact with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antimalarial herbs and supplements, antioxidants, beta-carotene, betel leaf extract, calcium channel blockers, cardiovascular herbs and supplements, casein, catechin, cobalt, coffee, copper, danshensu, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), fenugreek, fish oil, garlic, genistein, ginger, green tea, herbs and supplements that are toxic to the liver, herbs and supplements that suppress the immune system, herbs and supplements that widen blood vessels, hormonal herbs and supplements, iron, isoflavones, isothiocyanates, lignin, Monascus pilosus, omega-3 fatty acids, p-glycoprotein-regulated herbs and supplements, piperine, piplartine, protandim, quercetin, resveratrol, retinol, saffron, selenium, sunflower oil, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
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  2. Aggarwal BB, Kumar A, Bharti AC. Anticancer potential of curcumin: preclinical and clinical studies. Anticancer Res 2003;23(1A):363-398.
  3. Adhvaryu MR, Reddy NM, Vakharia BC. Prevention of hepatotoxicity due to anti tuberculosis treatment: a novel integrative approach. World J Gastroenterol 2008 Aug 14;14(30):4753-62.
  4. Brinkhaus B, Hentschel C, Von Keudell C, et al. Herbal medicine with curcuma and fumitory in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Scand J Gastroenterol 2005 Aug;40(8):936-43.
  5. Deodhar SD, Sethi R, Srimal RC. Preliminary study on antirheumatic activity of curcumin (diferuloyl methane). Indian J Med Res 1980;71:632-634.
  6. Egan ME, Pearson M, Weiner S, et al. Curcumin, a major constituent of turmeric, corrects cystic fibrosis defects. Science 4-23-2004;304(5670):600-602.
  7. Epstein J, Sanderson IR, Macdonald TT. Curcumin as a therapeutic agent: the evidence from in vitro, animal and human studies. Br J Nutr 2010:103(11):1545-57.
  8. Kositchaiwat C, Kositchaiwat S, Havanondha J. Curcuma longa Linn. in the treatment of gastric ulcer comparison to liquid antacid: a controlled clinical trial. J Med Assoc Thai 1993;76(11):601-605.
  9. Limtrakul P, Anuchapreeda S, Buddhasukh D. Modulation of human multidrug-resistance MDR-1 gene by natural curcuminoids. BMC Cancer 4-17-2004;4(1):13.
  10. López-Lázaro M. Anticancer and carcinogenic properties of curcumin: considerations for its clinical development as a cancer chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent. Mol Nutr Food Res 2008 Jun;52 Suppl 1:S103-27.
  11. Prusty BK, Das BC. Constitutive activation of transcription factor AP-1 in cervical cancer and suppression of human papillomavirus (HPV) transcription and AP-1 activity in HeLa cells by curcumin. Int J Cancer 3-1-2005;113(6):951-960.
  12. Rithaporn T, Monga M, Rajasekaran M. Curcumin: a potential vaginal contraceptive. Contraception 2003;68(3):219-223.
  13. Strimpakos AS, Sharma RA. Curcumin: preventive and therapeutic properties in laboratory studies and clinical trials. Antioxid Redox Signal 2008 Mar;10(3):511-45.
  14. Taher MM, Lammering G, Hershey C, et al. Curcumin inhibits ultraviolet light induced human immunodeficiency virus gene expression. Mol Cell Biochem 2003;254(1-2):289-297.
  15. Usharani P, Mateen AA, Naidu MU, et al. Effect of NCB-02, atorvastatin and placebo on endothelial function, oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, 8-week study. Drugs R D 2008;9(4):243-50.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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