The health benefits of turmeric are plentiful. The yellow spice can soothe your digestive system, it is an effective antiseptics and anti-bacterial agent, it detoxifies the body, it alleviates arthritic pain and breathing problems, and it can prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Quite a performance for just one spice, and yet turmeric does all this and much, much more. Modern scientific research is only now starting to open up to the fact that apart from tasting great in curries, turmeric can also be an effective medicine.
Even though turmeric has such obvious health benefits, there are a handful of people who will experience certain side effects of turmeric. This may be caused because of turmeric sensitivity or because of an existing health condition or the adverse reaction of turmeric with some other medication. Some people hear of these turmeric side effects and are put off ever using turmeric altogether. However, rest assured that turmeric side effects are very rare.
Turmeric Side Effects
Let’s see what the possible side effects of turmeric are and what precautions you should be taking to ensure that you do not suffer from turmeric side effects.
If you have a sensitivity to turmeric or even to spices, then you may experience the side effect of a little stomach irritation if you have food with turmeric in them or if you take turmeric in large amounts. You may experience cramping or get gassy. The reason may be that greater quantities of turmeric inflame the lining of the stomach. But if you continue to take turmeric regularly, it is very likely that your body will adapt to the spice and you will not suffer from this turmeric side effect.
May Cause Heartburn and/or Acidity
When turmeric is used to treat stomach upsets or digestion problems, it is prescribed in rather large doses. These large doses can sometimes cause heartburn or acidity or even both. You can either reduce the dosage you are taking or look for an alternative treatment method.
One of the turmeric side effects experience by people who take turmeric supplements in large quantities (more than 2000mg a day) is that they experience some nausea. The severity will differ from person to person.
Diarrhea or Constipation
Turmeric is a common remedy for an upset stomach. But take too much of it and you may suffer from the uncomfortable turmeric side effect of either diarrhea or constipation. Usually, just cutting down your dose or the amount you use in food can alleviate the severity of both these conditions.
Turmeric acts as an anti-clotting agent. So people with bleeding disorders who take turmeric may experience light to mild bleeding. They may have bloody stool or may even vomit up blood.
Studies on animals revealed that turmeric may cause some problems with the liver. There is no evidence that this is the case with humans as well, but then again there is no evidence that it is not. So if your liver is not in good condition, it is best to avoid large doses of turmeric over a prolonged period of time.
May Cause Hypoglycemia
Diabetics are usually told to avoid turmeric because it is thought that turmeric may lower blood sugar levels to a dangerous point (hypoglycemia) when it is combined with diabetes medication.
Yellow Tint on Skin
Turmeric is great for the skin. You can make a face mask of turmeric once a week and it will absorb the pollution and dirt from your skin, dry up pimples, and give your face a glow. Now you probably already know that turmeric is used as a food coloring as well. So obviously, this spice has some pretty strong staining properties. If you have fair skin and use turmeric as a paste, it may leave your skin yellow after you have washed it off. While this is not a health problem, it can get you too embarrassed to step out of the house. Depending on how much turmeric you used and how long you left it on your face, your skin could remain yellow a few hours to several days.
May Interfere With Cancer Treatment
Recent research has shown that turmeric causes cancer cells to commit suicide. However, researchers have still not worked out how to use turmeric to treat cancer. Their studies are showing, though, that the powerful antioxidant levels in turmeric does not allow chemotherapy – the current accepted treatment for cancer – to works as well as it should. The reasons are unknown and this finding is not very well documented yet. The best person to listen to in this case would be your doctor.
Damages Red and White Blood Cells
Studies have shown that there may be a possibility of damage to both red and white blood cells. But this turmeric side effect would only occur if you took an outrageous amount of turmeric. It is almost impossible that it will affect the average person.
Turmeric is thought to stimulate the uterus, which may cause minor problems during menstruation like a heavier than usual flow. This turmeric side effect is the reason that women who are pregnant are asked to reduce their intake of turmeric. There is a concern (but not evidence) that high doses of turmeric may cause miscarriage.
Precautions to Avoid Turmeric Side Effects
These turmeric side effects sure sound uncomfortable, and some are scary. But that does not mean that you have to avoid turmeric altogether. There is a very tiny likelihood that these turmeric side effects will ever happen to you. Even with people who might have some turmeric sensitivity, the side effects will only occur if the spice is ingested in abnormally large quantities. Turmeric is otherwise a very safe spice and if you are healthy you really have no cause to worry about these turmeric side effects.
If you only take turmeric in your food like in a tea or as an ingredient in curries or salads, then you truly have nothing to concern yourself with. As mentioned before turmeric itself is a very safe spice and taken in such small quantities will not affect you at all. If you are taking turmeric in large quantities for a medical condition, even then there is a very strong likelihood that you will not suffer from turmeric side effects, but this is when any turmeric side effects will occur, if at all. However, if this is something that bothers you and you prefer to err on the side of caution, then following are some of the things you should keep in mind if you want to avoid turmeric side effects.
- Before taking turmeric – either as a supplement or in your food – first find out if you are allergic to it. Rub a small amount on the inside of your elbow and leave it there for a few hours. If you develop a rash, then do not use turmeric. If you don’t you’re good to go.
- Avoid turmeric in your diet a couple of weeks before you undergo any kind of surgery. Turmeric is an incredible anti-clotting agent and blood needs to clot when recovering after surgery. One of the possible turmeric side effects is that you may bleed more during or even after surgery than is normal.
- Also do not take turmeric in any form if you know you have a blood-clotting disorder and are on antiplatelet or anticoagulation medication as one of the turmeric side effects is that it increases the strength of these medicines.
- Avoid turmeric if you have diabetes for the same reason.
- Even some regular drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen can interact negatively with turmeric. Always check with your doctor before combining different kinds of medication, even if it is just a turmeric supplement.
- If you take turmeric in capsule or tablet form, make sure that it is organic and chemical-free. Be warned that the binding agent that is needed to make turmeric tablets is of animal origin and this may be something that does not agree with you or that you have a food allergy to. Try to look for FDA and organic certification on turmeric supplements before you buy.
- Allergic to ginger? Then avoid turmeric as there is a high probability that you are allergic to it also since they are both from the same family.
- During pregnancy, it is always best to be ultra-safe for the sake of your baby. Some researchers feel that turmeric should be avoided during pregnancy as it stimulates the uterus and this could potentially cause problems with the pregnancy. However, women in Asia continue to have turmeric in their meals throughout their pregnancies with no issues whatsoever so you have to wonder where this theory came from and why the blame was directed to turmeric. But it is understandable that you would want to be cautious and not take any chances. So do not have turmeric while you are pregnant. If you must, take it only in your food and avoid supplements.
- It is advisable to avoid turmeric as long as you are nursing your new-born since it is uncertain what effect turmeric can have on the baby.
- Some health conditions are further exacerbated by taking turmeric. The health benefits of turmeric which are advantageous to healthy folks with healthy organ function may prove to be a problem for those who have certain health problems. For example, if you have stomach ulcers or have had stomach ulcers in the past, it would be best if you avoided turmeric as there is a high possibility that you will suffer from the gastrointestinal turmeric side effects.
- A bile duct blockage and kidney stones are also sensitive to turmeric side effects. So avoid taking turmeric supplements or putting turmeric in your food if you know you have either of these conditions.
- Gallstones are another health condition which may get worse with turmeric. It’s best to avoid the spice till you are healthy again.
- This is a simple precaution to prevent turmeric side effects – do not take more than the recommended dose. For adults, the daily dose is between 400 mg and 600 mg, but the dose may be increased temporarily for the treatment of medical conditions. Take higher quantities only under advisement of a qualified doctor and do not continue with the increased dosage for longer than is necessary. Too much of anything is bad in the long run. In fact, most turmeric side effects will go away on their own if you simply reduce your turmeric intake a bit. Always check with your doctor if you are taking turmeric capsules or any other supplements.
- If you want to avoid turning a bright yellow when you use turmeric as a face mask, mix some chickpea flour or lemon into the paste. The chickpea flour will minimize the side effects of the yellow coloring. The lemon acts as a natural bleaching agent and will reduce the yellowing. Or you can try not leaving you turmeric face mask on for too long. Many skin and beauty experts recommend leaving it on overnight or at least for half an hour. If you know that the turmeric will turn you yellow, leave the mask on for just ten to fifteen minutes.
- Sometimes, turmeric side effects occur because the body is not able to absorb the spice. But you can counter this by boiling the turmeric for about ten minutes before ingesting. If you do not have time to do so, you can mix the turmeric with some black pepper or oil. This should allow the body to better absorb the turmeric. If you are taking turmeric capsules or tablets, ensure that they contain pipperine – a compound which helps with better absorption.
- Store your turmeric – whether powder, capsules, or oil – in a dry container and away from direct sunlight to ensure that it retains its health benefits.