Turmeric, or Curcuma longa, is an herb with a 4,000-year history of medicinal use. Its active substance, curcumin, is a strong antioxidant. Turmeric shows promise for the treatment of digestive ailments, lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation, preventing blood clots and fighting some cancers and infections, but further testing is needed to determine turmeric's effect in humans. Turmeric and other herbs are best taken under the supervision of a medical professional. Turmeric and curcumin are generally considered safe at the recommended dose. However, there are precautions to keep in mind if you are planning to use them.
Blood Thinners and Bleeding Disorders
If you have a bleeding disorder you should not use turmeric because of its blood-thinning properties. It can raise risk for life-threatening internal bleeding, including bleeding in the brain. Turmeric may intensify the effects of blood-thinners, such as warfarin, clopidogrel and aspirin. Turmeric can interact with non-steroidal inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Turmeric may increase your risk of bleeding and bruising when taken with other herbs known to slow blood clotting, such as angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, red clover and willow.
Stomach Acid Medications
Large amounts of turmeric taken for a prolonged period may lead to stomach upset, nausea, diarrhoea or ulcers. Turmeric can increase the production of stomach acid when taken with cimetidine, esomeprazole, famotidine, lansoprazole, omeprazole and ranitidine. If you have gallstones, gallbladder disease or obstructed bile ducts, consult a doctor before taking turmeric.
Turmeric and Diabetes
If you have diabetes to your doctor before taking tumeric because this herb has hypoglycaemic properties, meaning it lowers blood-glucose levels. When combined with diabetic medications that lower blood sugar, turmeric can intensify the effect of these drugs.
Turmeric During Pregnancy/Breastfeeding
The amount of turmeric commonly used in foods is generally considered safe, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not use turmeric supplements. Turmeric has not been proven either safe, or unsafe, to unborn children and breastfeeding babies.
Turmeric can cause contact dermatitis. It also may lead to the severe, life threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis if it touches the skin, though this is rare. It can also cause a yellow discolouration of the skin if applied topically for a long period of time.