Curcumin side effects

You may know turmeric primarily as a spice, but it is also used in Ayurvedic medicine, which originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. Turmeric supplements are now widely available for medical use, but knowing how much you can take per day can be confusing. Here is a look at the application and beneficial properties of turmeric, effective doses and side effects.

How much turmeric to take per day: dosage, side effects, contraindications

Application and useful properties

Scientists have proven that turmeric contains a powerful chemical compound called curcumin, which has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect (1, 2).

Many studies show that minor chronic inflammation can be a key factor in the development of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer (3, 4, 5, 6).

In test tubes and in animals, curcumin has been shown to block certain biological pathways leading to inflammation (7).

The effects of turmeric and curcumin were also investigated by randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the gold standard of the study.

Although some of them were inconclusive, many gave significant results.

For example, several studies have found that turmeric can reduce knee pain and improve function in people with osteoarthritis. One study even found that in reducing pain, turmeric can have the same effect as ibuprofen (8, 9, 10).

In another RCT, 120 overweight people took turmeric supplements for three months. On average, total cholesterol was reduced by 32%, LDL cholesterol cholesterol by 42% and triglycerides by 39% (11).

Turmeric can also improve the quality of life of people with chronic kidney disease who experience itchy skin. In one RCT, those taking turmeric reduced inflammation markers and reported a decrease in the intensity of itching (12).

Although less convincing other RCTs show that turmeric can play a useful role in cardiovascular diseases, can prevent diabetes mellitus, improve recovery from surgery, and be useful for irritable bowel syndrome (13, 14, 15, 16).

Summary:

Turmeric contains curcumin – a powerful chemical compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Many of the therapeutic properties of turmeric are supported by randomized controlled trials – the gold standard of research.

Effective doses

Studies typically use doses of 500-2000 mg of turmeric per day, often in the form of an extract with a curcumin concentration that is much higher than the amount found in nature in products.

For example, the average Indian diet includes about 2000-2500 mg of turmeric (60-100 mg of curcumin) per day. The same amount in the form of an extract may contain up to 1900-2375 mg of curcumin (17).

In other words, pure turmeric contains about 3% of curcumin compared to 95% of curcumin in extracts (18).

However, turmeric can still benefit health when used as a spice.

One observational study involving older people positively associated curry consumption with brain health (19).

While there is no official consensus on effective doses of turmeric or curcumin, the following dosages were used in the studies, which gave promising results (8, 11, 12):

  • With osteoarthritis: 500 mg of turmeric extract twice a day for 2-3 months.
  • With high cholesterol: 700 mg of turmeric extract twice a day for 3 months.
  • With skin itch: 500 mg of turmeric three times a day for 2 months.

High doses of turmeric and curcumin are not recommended in the long term, as there is not enough research confirming their safety.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that 3 mg / kg body weight is an acceptable daily intake (17).

Keep in mind that all herbal supplements should be used with caution. Always notify your doctor about any supplements you are taking, including turmeric and curcumin.

Summary:

Studies show that doses of turmeric 500-2000 mg per day can be effective. However, high doses are not recommended in the long term.

Who should not take turmeric?

Although turmeric is considered safe for most people, some people may have to avoid it.

These conditions require special care:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: not enough research to determine whether turmeric is safe for pregnant or lactating women.
  • Gallbladder disease: turmeric can reduce gallbladder and worsen symptoms (20).
  • Stones in the kidneys: Turmeric contains high levels of oxalate, which can bind to calcium and cause kidney stones (21).
  • Bleeding: It can slow down the ability of your blood to thicken, which can worsen bleeding problems (22).
  • Diabetes: turmeric can reduce blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous when taken with antidiabetic drugs (23).
  • Iron deficiency: turmeric can impair iron absorption (24).

In addition, turmeric supplements may interact with certain medications, such as anticoagulants (blood thinning drugs) and diabetes medications (23, 25).

However, turmeric seems safe under these conditions in quantities normally consumed.

Summary:

Turmeric supplements are dangerous if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have certain diseases. Supplements can also interact with anticoagulants and diabetes medications. However, turmeric seems safe when used as a spice in food.

Side effects

For short periods of time, doses of up to 8 g per day were used in the studies without any toxic effects.

However, there are reports of side effects.

The more common side effects include allergic reactions, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea and vomiting (26, 27).

In one serious case, an abnormal heart rhythm was observed in a person taking high doses of 1,500–1,250 mg twice a day (28).

More research is needed to determine other possible side effects associated with long-term use of turmeric.

Summary:

Minimal adverse effects of taking turmeric supplements have been reported, but longer studies are needed.

Selection of Turmeric Supplements

Extracts are the most powerful form of turmeric supplements.

Curcumin side effects

They contain concentrated doses of curcumin (up to 95%). In contrast, powders and spices may contain as little as 3% of curcuminoids (18).

Moreover, the extracts are less susceptible to contamination by other substances, such as heavy metals (18).

Regardless of the form of turmeric you choose, consider combining your supplement with black pepper. Black pepper contains in its composition piperine, which, as has been identified, increases the absorption of curcumin by 2000% (18, 29).

And, as always, make sure you buy a reputable manufacturer’s supplement.

Consider supplements that have been tested by a third party, such as NSF International, Informed Choice, or the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP).

These companies ensure that you get what is indicated on the label and that your product is not contaminated.

Summary:

Turmeric extracts contain a high concentration of curcumin and are less susceptible to contamination by other substances. All supplements must be made by a reputable manufacturer.

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