Is Turmeric Safe to Use?
People have safely used turmeric as a spice, food additive, and traditional herbal medicine for thousands of years. Both turmeric and curcumin have GRAS status with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Modern studies confirm it is safe for internal consumption and topical use. These include the following clinical trials, involving adult patients or volunteers: (i.5, 22, 61)
- A clinical study conducted involving head and neck cancer patients given curcumin doses of up to 12 grams/day for 3 months with no serious adverse side effects.
- A three month Phase I safety study in which healthy volunteers took turmeric oil orally with no negative changes in blood pressure and weight. There were also no toxic effects found in the blood, liver, or kidneys.
As with any biologically active herb, there are possible contraindications to using turmeric and its main compound, curcumin. You should always consult with your health care provider before using any herb, especially if you are on blood thinners or chemotherapy. (i.62-63)
Experts also advise checking with your healthcare provider before taking turmeric or curcumin if you have any of the following conditions:
- Cancer (i.23, 64)
- Gallstones (i.65)
- Iron-deficient diet (i.66)
- Kidney stones (i.67)
- Pregnancy (i.68)
- Ulcers (i.65)
In general, turmeric and curcumin are considered safe in commonly used dosages. In fact, some studies have demonstrated their benefit even in some of the above-mentioned conditions (i.e., cancer, gallstones, and ulcers). However, medical experts caution against using medicinal levels of turmeric while pregnant and nursing an infant. That's because there isn't enough safety data or research in these situations. (i.68)
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