Turmeric is quite popular for its powerful medicinal properties. But there are a few turmeric side effects as well that you should know before using it.
This Indian spice holds potent anti-inflammatory properties, making it an effective reliever for inflammation-related disorders.
Precisely, it is curcumin in the turmeric that makes it so beneficial to health. The curcumin also gives turmeric its familiar yellow color.
But, the curcumin content of turmeric is very low, just around 3%, by weight.
This requires its consumption in supplemental quantities to get more of curcumin for maximum benefits. However, that’s also where things go wrong for some people, especially if you are on certain medications.
Here are the 10 health-related side effects of turmeric that studies have discovered.
Table of Contents
- A. 12 Side Effects of Turmeric [Based on Science]
- 1. Increases Risk of Bleeding
- 2. Can Cause Diarrhea & Nausea
- 3. Stomach Issues & GERD
- 4. Risk of Kidney Stones
- 5. Causes Iron Deficiency
- 6. May Lead to Infertility
- 7. Drops Your blood pressure Too Low
- 8. Lowers blood sugar Too Much
- 9. Risky During/After Surgery
- 10. Causes Skin Allergy
- 11. Stimulates Gallbladder Contractions
- 12. Risky for Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women
- B. How Much Turmeric to Consume Per Day to Avoid Side effects?
A. 12 Side Effects of Turmeric [Based on Science]
1. Increases Risk of Bleeding
The first turmeric side effect is the increased risk of bleeding. It is because the anti-coagulating properties of curcumin delay blood clotting process when you get a cut or wound.
Typically, on getting a cut or wound, platelets (a type of blood cell) start to accumulate at its edges in order to form a plug and stop bleeding.
But this platelet plug isn’t strong enough. So, a series of chemical processes create thrombin which then helps form fibrin (a protein). This Fibrin guy then makes a mesh-like structure around our platelet plug and hardens (coagulates) it. The wound then finally starts healing.
That’s where the turmeric or specifically the curcumin messes with this process.
- A study found that curcumin possesses anti-coagulant properties.
- It states that curcumin not only delays the formation of thrombin but also inhibits its activity. Consequently, the blood clotting process slows down, increasing the risk of bleeding.
It becomes even more important for people with bleeding disorders such as Hemophilia and Von Willebrand’s disease.
Therefore, avoid consuming large doses of turmeric or get a clinical advice if you:
- Take herbal supplements that delay the clotting process such as cloves, garlic, ginger, and ginkgo.
- Take anticoagulant drugs.
- Have bleeding disorders.
- Are on blood-thinning medicines like warfarin (Coumadin).
2. Can Cause Diarrhea & Nausea
Nausea and diarrhea are the other side effects of turmeric overconsumption.
Though studies have found curcumin to be very safe if consumed in the recommended dose.
According to the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), the recommended daily intake of curcumin is 0–3 mg/kg body weight.
Few studies also analyzed what the excess consumption of curcumin can do to your body:
- In a study done on 24 people receiving 500–12,000 mg of curcumin doses, 7 people (30%) developed a headache, diarrhea, rash, and yellow stool.
- In another study done on 15 people receiving 0.45 to 3.6 g/day curcumin for 1 to 4 months, few of them reported nausea and diarrhea.
Besides, certain individuals can feel nauseous even with its normal consumption. So if you find yourself with any such symptom, stop the intake and consult your doctor if condition worsens.
3. Stomach Issues & GERD
Next, turmeric side effect can cause stomach problems, especially if you consume turmeric in excess with antacids.
Interestingly, the same curcumin which supports digestive health in food amounts can irritate stomach in large doses.
Not only that, using turmeric for extended periods of time also can cause gastrointestinal problems.
- Even some participants in a study analyzing the anti-cancer activity of turmeric discontinued curcumin due to abdominal fullness and pain.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center– when taken with antacids, turmeric stimulates the stomach to produce more acid.
And, more acid = more abdominal problems such as peptic ulcers and even GERD.
➥ GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid frequently flows back into the pipe connecting mouth and stomach.
Turmeric is usually known to relieve GERD but can as well worsen the condition in some individuals.
So look for your symptoms if you have Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Stop taking turmeric if it seems to aggravate reflux disease.
4. Risk of Kidney Stones
Consuming too much turmeric can also increase the risk of kidney stones. This is due to the presence of soluble oxalate in the turmeric.
The oxalate combines with calcium to form insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate, which are the most common type of kidney stones.
Calcium oxalate stones mainly form when you consume more turmeric but drink less water.
Here’s how– Your urine contains chemicals that prevent oxalate from sticking together and forming crystals. However, if you drink less water you will have too little urine to dilute oxalate and will also contain the lesser amount of those chemicals.
Eventually, oxalate crystalizes and sticks to the calcium while the kidney is producing urine, leading to the formation of kidney stones.
- A study found that in comparison to the cinnamon, turmeric significantly increases oxalate levels in urine. This substantiated the fact that turmeric can cause kidney stones.
Hence, drink more water if you are consuming supplemental amounts of turmeric. And avoid it in excess if you are more likely to develop kidney stones to steer clear of this turmeric side effect.
5. Causes Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency is the next adverse effect that turmeric can possibly cause.
Curcumin binds to iron in the intestine and prevents its absorption in the body. As the body can’t absorb iron, it becomes iron deficient.
Consequently, iron deficiency can cause symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, anemia, paleness, and headache.
- A study found that supplementing mice with 0.2% curcumin over 6 months caused a significant reduction in iron stores in its liver and spleen.
- Another study found that curcumin affects iron metabolism to such an extent that it causes anemia in the people who are already low on iron.
- The same study reasons it out by saying that curcumin needs to bind to the iron to show its anti-cancer activity. But the process also depletes iron stores in the body.
Hence, if you are already deficient in iron:
- avoid turmeric or consult with your doctor first, and
- check iron levels in your blood regularly, if you want to consume turmeric for a long-term.
6. May Lead to Infertility
This turmeric side-effect affects the males. Consuming curcumin in a high amount may reduce testosterone level.
Not only that, but curcumin can also slow down or even block the movement of sperm, causing infertility.
- A study found that curcumin limits sperm forward-movement and fertilization. And further increasing curcumin concentration completely stopped sperm movement and function within 5-15 min.
- Another study looking at how curcumin prevents sperm forward-movement found that curcumin-
- Increases acidity within the sperm cell, and
- Turns the cell membrane of sperm cell more negative (hyperpolarization).
- A study even suggests that the powerful anti-cancer properties of curcumin could be due to suppression of testosterone production.
Therefore, avoid consuming turmeric in excess, especially if you are trying to have a baby.
7. Drops Your blood pressure Too Low
Consuming turmeric in high doses can reduce your blood pressure too.
But, that’s a good thing right?
It definitely is! but not when you are on blood pressure medications, which is when it becomes a turmeric side effect.
In that case, curcumin can drop your blood pressure way too much. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, depression, and blurry vision.
It is believed that turmeric along with blood pressure medicines may have an additive effect, lowering your blood pressure abnormally.
So, if you have hypertension (high blood pressure), avoid consuming large amounts of turmeric alongside the medications that treat high blood pressure.
While we wait for more research on this, it is advised to consult your doctor first about this.
8. Lowers blood sugar Too Much
The next side effect of excess turmeric is too much lowering of blood sugar. Besides, curcumin supplements can also cause irregularities in the blood sugar of some users.
It becomes too important for diabetic people. Turmeric can work synergistically with diabetic medicines, dropping blood sugar level drastically. As a result, this condition can even lead to hypoglycemia.
➥ Hypoglycemia is a condition when the level of glucose in your blood drops below normal.
- A study analyzing the effect of curcumin supplementation on blood glucose in diabetic mice found that curcumin considerably lowered blood glucose levels.
- Curcumin does that by elevating insulin level in the bloodstream.
Excess insulin in the bloodstream makes cells absorb more glucose from the blood, resulting in a drop in glucose level in the blood.
- Curcumin does that by elevating insulin level in the bloodstream.
Although turmeric doesn’t significantly reduce blood sugar level in healthy individuals, it is very much possible in people with diabetes.
So if you are diabetic, avoid curcumin supplements or excess consumption of turmeric with blood sugar medicines.
9. Risky During/After Surgery
Consuming turmeric in excess while you are about to undergo a surgery can be risky.
With its anti-coagulating effect, curcumin can slow down blood clotting. This may increase the risk of bleeding during & after surgery.
Therefore, it is better to stop using turmeric 2 weeks before your scheduled surgery, especially if you have bleeding disorders.
On the other side, healthy individuals going for surgery should reduce its intake down to the recommended amount. Or, get a medical advice about it to stay safe.
10. Causes Skin Allergy
Scientific studies found that turmeric side effect can cause allergic reactions on the skin in some people.
- A study examined 11 other relevant studies done on turmeric and found that although curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it is an allergen too.
➥ Allergen is any substance that causes allergic reactions.
Precisely, turmeric can cause contact dermatitis; red and itchy rash on the skin due to direct contact with turmeric.
The same study also identifies kumkum; a turmeric-based powder used in the Hindu religion, as an allergen.
Interestingly, turmeric has such properties too that could be used for skin-related problems.
It is also worth mentioning that turmeric and ginger belong to the same family; Zingiberaceae. It means that if you are allergic to ginger, you may be allergic to the turmeric as well.
As a precautionary measure, apply turmeric to a smaller area on your skin first to check if it suits you. If you find skin inflammation within 24-72 hours, it most likely won’t go well with your body.
In such a case, don’t take turmeric orally too as it can possibly cause the shortness of breath.
11. Stimulates Gallbladder Contractions
Curcumin can also cause gallbladder contractions by producing a cholekinetic effect. This turmeric side effect has symptoms such as sharp pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
➥ The gallbladder is a small hollow organ below the liver and secretes digestive enzyme bile. It is required for the proper digestion of fatty foods.
➥ A cholekinetic agent is the one that causes contraction and rapid emptying of the gallbladder.
Curcumin does that by signaling the release of cholecystokinin (CCK) hormone. CCK stimulates contractions in the smooth muscle of the gallbladder.
- A study carried out in 12 volunteers to examine the effect of curcumin on human gallbladder function found that-
- Just 20 mg of curcumin induces a 29% contraction of the gallbladder within 2 hours.
- Another study was done as an extension to the first study. It tried to find if doubling the dose will also double the gallbladder contraction, i.e. by up to 50%.
- It found that a dose of 40 mg of curcumin does produce a 50% contraction of the bladder after 2 hours.
But, these studies included healthy individuals. If the results also hold true for people suffering from gallbladder problems, curcumin will cause severe pain and discomfort.
Hence, to be on the safe side, it is advised to avoid turmeric if you are suffering from bile duct obstructions or gallstones.
12. Risky for Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women
A woman and her child are most vulnerable to complications during pregnancy. Therefore, using oral turmeric supplements during pregnancy might be risky.
There are three reasons why taking excess turmeric during pregnancy can expose you to the turmeric side effects:
- The safety of turmeric for a pregnant woman is not yet examined.
- Certain foods like turmeric may harm the fetus, leading to the development of abnormalities in the child.
- Turmeric is an emmenagogue. It can stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus, causing menstruation. This could pose a risk to the pregnancy and possibly cause miscarriage.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center- using turmeric just as a spice in food dishes is absolutely safe even during pregnancy.
The biggest proof is the pregnant women in India who don’t remove turmeric from their food even during the pregnancy.
So remember, No Turmeric Supplements, only dietary turmeric.
Besides, if you are not already habited to using turmeric, adding it to your diet during pregnancy- even in dietary amount- might not be a good idea.
The same advice goes for breastfeeding women. It is unknown if the active compounds from turmeric can pass through breast milk and affect the child.
Hence, it is not advised to use turmeric in medicinal/supplemental amounts during breastfeeding.
B. How Much Turmeric to Consume Per Day to Avoid Side effects?
Turmeric is undoubtedly the best ingredient to boost health. But consuming it in excess can expose you to the turmeric side effects as well.
Therefore, you should consume turmeric in a right amount. Here’re the recommended turmeric doses for its various forms to consume it safely-
- Dried & powdered root: 1.5 – 2.5 g per day
- Cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day
- Standardized powder: 400 – 600 mg, 3 times per day
- Turmeric tea: Steep 15 grams of turmeric root in 135 ml of boiling water. Drink twice daily
- Water-based extract: 30 – 90 drops of the extract per day.
- Tincture (1:2): 15 – 30 drops of the tincture 4 times per day.
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