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Turmeric



Background

Turmeric, a plant related to ginger, is grown throughout India, other parts of Asia, and Central America. Javanese turmeric (Curcuma xanthorrhiz) is a different plant and not discussed in this fact sheet.

Historically, turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, primarily in South Asia, for many conditions, including breathing problems, rheumatism, serious pain, and fatigue.

Today, turmeric is used as a dietary supplement for inflammation; arthritis; stomach, skin, liver, and gallbladder problems; cancer; and other conditions.

Turmeric is a common spice and a major ingredient in curry powder. Its primary active ingredients, curcuminoids, are yellow and used to color foods and cosmetics.

Turmeric’s underground stems (rhizomes) are dried and made into capsules, tablets, teas, or extracts. Turmeric powder is also made into a paste for skin conditions.

How Much Do We Know?

We have a lot of research, including studies done in people, on turmeric for a variety of health conditions.

What Have We Learned?

Claims that curcuminoids found in turmeric help to reduce inflammation aren’t supported by strong studies.

Preliminary studies found that curcuminoids may:

Reduce the number of heart attacks bypass patients had after surgery

Control knee pain from osteoarthritis as well as ibuprofen did

Reduce the skin irritation that often occurs after radiation treatments for breast cancer.

Other preliminary studies in people have looked at curcumin, a type of curcuminoid, for different cancers, colitis, diabetes, surgical pain, and as an ingredient in mouthwash for reducing plaque.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has studied curcumin for Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and prostate and colon cancer.

What Do We Know About Safety?

Turmeric in amounts tested for health purposes is generally considered safe when taken by mouth or applied to the skin.

High doses or long-term use of turmeric may cause gastrointestinal problems.

Keep in Mind

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Key References

  • Di Lorenzo C, Dell’Agli M, Badea M, et al. Plant food supplements with anti-inflammatory properties: a systematic review (II). Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013;53(5):507-516.
  • Funk JL. Turmeric. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements, 2nd ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2010.
  • Garg SK, Ahuja V, Sankar MJ, et al. Curcumin for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012;(10):CD008424. Accessed at http://www.thecochranelibrary.com(link is external) on April 13, 2015.
  • Meng B, Li J, Cao H. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of curcumin on diabetes mellitus and its complications. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2013;19(11):2101-2113.
  • Ryan JL, Heckler CE, Ling M, et al. Curcumin for radiation dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of thirty breast cancer patients. Radiation Research. 2013;180(1):34-43.
  • Turmeric. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/ on April 13, 2015. [Database subscription].
  • Wongcharoen W, Jai-Aue S, Phrommintikul A, et al. Effects of curcuminoids on frequency of acute myocardial infarction after coronary artery bypass grafting. American Journal of Cardiology. 2012;110(1):40-44.

-NIH



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