Who knew that “tumeric” helps to reduce inflammation?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of conditions. Studies show that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems.
Many studies have taken place in test tubes and animals. Turmeric may not work as well in humans. Some studies have used an injectable form of curcumin, the active substance in turmeric, and not all studies agree. Finally, some of the studies show conflicting evidence.
Turmeric is widely used in cooking and gives Indian curry its flavor and yellow color. It is also used in mustard and to color butter and cheese. Turmeric has been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, to treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds.
Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can fight free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.
In addition, curcumin lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. It also stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.
Research suggests that turmeric may be helpful for the following conditions:
Indigestion, Ulcerative Colitis, Stomach Ulcers, Osteoarthritis, Heart Disease, Cancer, Bacterial and Viral Infections
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs can trigger side effects and may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
Turmeric in food is considered safe.
Turmeric and curcumin supplements are considered safe when taken at the recommended doses. However, taking large amounts of turmeric for long periods of time may cause stomach upset and, in extreme cases, ulcers. People who have gallstones or obstruction of the bile passages should talk to their doctor before taking turmeric.
If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before taking turmeric supplements. Turmeric may lower blood sugar levels. When combined with medications for diabetes, turmeric could cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Although it is safe to eat foods with turmeric, pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take turmeric supplements.
Because turmeric may act like a blood thinner, you should stop taking it at least 2 weeks before surgery. Tell your doctor and surgeon that you have been taking turmeric.
If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use turmeric or curcumin in medicinal forms without first talking to your health care provider.
Blood-thinning medications — Turmeric may strengthen the effects of these drugs, raising the risk of bleeding. Blood thinners include warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin, among others.
Drugs that reduce stomach acid — Turmeric may interfere with the action of these drugs, increasing the production of stomach acid:
- Cimetidine (Tagamet)
- Famotidine (Pepcid)
- Ranitidine (Zantac)
- Esomeprazole (Nexium)
- Omeprazole (Prilosec)
- Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
Diabetes Medications — Turmeric may strengthen the effects of these drugs, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
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Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.