Do trendy turmeric supplements really treat pain, boost mood, and improve allergies? Experts say they work best for 2 conditions

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Americans walk around $50 billion a twelvemonth connected supplements. One of the astir popular is turmeric, a agleam orangish guidelines that has its roots successful some accepted Eastern medicine and cuisine. Proponents are consenting to salary $20 aliases much for a bottle, hoping to relieve arthritis symptom and inflammation, lower cholesterol and blood sweetener levels, and dainty immoderate other happens to ail them. But is it worthy nan money?

While a batch of research has highlighted turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, nan wide scope of supplement potencies and doses utilized successful studies has made it difficult to corroborate immoderate wellness claims.

Dr. Keith Singletary, professor emeritus of nutrition astatine nan University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has reviewed nan evidence connected turmeric. His take? “I deliberation it’s promising,” he says, but he stresses that it isn’t “the cure-all that trading would make it appear.”

Health benefits of turmeric

The wellness properties attributed to turmeric travel from earthy compounds called curcuminoids. “Curcumin, which is nan awesome one, is believed to beryllium mostly responsible for nan wellness benefits of turmeric,” says Singletary.

What mightiness curcumin do? The champion grounds centers connected 2 conditions: arthritis and metabolic syndrome.


Considering turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, it’s not astonishing that researchers person investigated its usage for arthritis. The supplement does look to trim symptom and stiffness from osteoarthritis, the astir common shape of this achy associated disease.

“It’s not a occurrence drug, but it astir apt useful arsenic good arsenic ibuprofen aliases acetaminophen,” says Dr. Janet L. Funk, professor of medicine and vice chair of investigation for nan Department of Medicine astatine nan University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson. Her lab studies plant-derived dietary supplements for inflammatory diseases.

Metabolic syndrome

This isn’t a disease, but alternatively a cluster of conditions for illustration obesity, precocious humor pressure, precocious humor sugar, and precocious triglycerides that collectively summation nan consequence for diabetes, bosom disease, and stroke. About 1 successful 3 American adults person metabolic syndrome, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Studies person looked astatine nan effects of turmeric connected humor sugar, triglycerides, and insulin levels, arsenic good arsenic connected inflammation (which besides plays a domiciled successful metabolic syndrome). “In general, location was a beardown preponderance of grounds that it mightiness thief trim each those things. So it mightiness person immoderate use successful group who are overweight and concerned astir inflammation and diabetes,” Funk says.

But—there’s a very large caveat. “There’s a batch of inconsistency betwixt studies,” Singletary says. And therein lies nan problem successful evaluating turmeric.

An imperfect science

Though plentifulness of investigation is being done connected turmeric, nan studies aren’t consistent. Researchers person tested different amounts of nan supplement successful different groups of group for different amounts of time. Some studies added a compound for illustration piperine, recovered successful achromatic pepper, to make turmeric much progressive successful nan assemblage (researchers telephone this accrued “bioavailability”).

For example, 1 study connected knee osteoarthritis had participants return 180 milligrams (mg) of curcumin for 8 weeks. Another one utilized doses of 500 mg positive 5 mg of BioPerine (black pepper) extract 3 times a time for six weeks.

Because astir of nan studies person lasted 4 months aliases less, researchers don’t cognize what mightiness hap pinch semipermanent use. “The bottommost statement is, there’s nary definitive, well-designed studies astatine this point,” Funk says. She’s skeptical that location ever will be, fixed that nan nutraceutical manufacture and nan National Institutes of Health aren’t backing them.

The risks of turmeric

Turmeric is astir apt safe if you get it from nan herb aliases you return only nan recommended magnitude successful supplements, says the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. In larger quantities, it could origin GI broadside effects for illustration nausea aliases diarrhea.

Piperine poses its ain group of issues, because it increases nan bioavailability of curcumin by inactivating an enzyme successful nan liver that would different break it down. “That enzyme is really important for [breaking down] astir narcotics group take,” says Funk. Theoretically, piperine mightiness origin a buildup of medications successful nan body, frankincense expanding nan consequence for broadside effects. “Generally speaking, if you’re taking different medications, I would awkward distant from immoderate merchandise that has piperine successful it, conscionable successful lawsuit it could interfere pinch nan metabolism of your different drugs,” she adds.

An moreover bigger interest is a uncommon but superior risk of liver harm from turmeric supplements, arsenic good arsenic precocious levels of lead successful these products. Several studies, including one that Funk co-authored, recovered excessive amounts of lead successful immoderate turmeric supplements—especially those that contained turmeric root. Exposure to lead successful ample quantities tin person toxic effects connected nan body, including bosom and kidney problems.

Should you return turmeric?

Is it worthy taking turmeric? “That’s nan million- dollar question,” says Singletary. Given nan deficiency of clear grounds connected its benefits and nan imaginable risks, he says you’re safest getting turmeric done your diet. You tin adhd nan herb to soups, stews, sauces, and smoothies. Top them pinch a pinch of achromatic capsicum aliases navigator turmeric successful lipid to heighten its bioavailability.

If you do usage turmeric supplements, it tin beryllium difficult to cognize which shape is best, aliases really overmuch to take. The champion proposal is to inquire your wellness attraction provider, says Singletary. Start retired pinch a debased dose to spot really your assemblage responds to it. And don’t expect turmeric to beryllium a “cure-all for each your ailments, which is improbable to beryllium nan case,” he adds.

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