Turmeric: potential adverse effects and interactions

  • Turmeric has been widely used in traditional medicine and as a spice in foods
  • Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric.
  • Turmeric and curcumin seem to be generally well tolerated. The most common side effects observed in clinical studies are gastrointestinal and include constipation, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, distension, gastroesophageal reflux, nausea, vomiting, yellow stool and stomach ache.
  • Due to their ability to increase bile secretion, turmeric and curcumin should not be taken by individuals with obstruction of the bile duct, cholangitis, liver disease, gallstones and any other biliary disease.
  • Turmeric has also been linked to interactions with some conventional medicines due to its influence on some cytochrome P450 enzymes, P-glycoprotein and OATP transporters.
  • Patient’s taking medicines with a narrow therapeutic index or, associated with significant side effects, e.g. anticancer or immunosuppressant agents should use turmeric and curcumin with caution.
  • The quality and safety of products sold as food supplements or unlicensed products may not be guaranteed. Consumers should purchase their product from a trusted source to reduce the associated risks.
Complementary and alternative therapies

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