Turmeric Herbal Supplement Information

Overview

Turmeric, the Indian spice used to give yellow mustard its distinctive color, is also a popular alternative health remedy. Turmeric proponents claim the herb can treat a wide variety of ailments when eaten or ingested in capsule, tincture or fluid extract form. However, turmeric’s use may cause unpleasant side effects or interact with your prescription medications. Therefore, you should consult with your medical doctor before you use turmeric to treat yourself for any condition.

Identification

Turmeric, a perennial plant that grows five to six feet high and produces pale yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers, is indigenous to southern Asia. Turmeric’s roots and rhizomes, or stems, are used as a cooking spice, food-coloring agent and herbal medicinal treatment.

Uses

Alternative health practitioners use turmeric to treat wounds, skin diseases, liver and digestive ailments, indigestion, stomach ulcers, osteoarthritis and ulcerative colitis. Alternative health practitioners also use turmeric to treat skin, intestinal, breast and stomach cancer, diabetes and atherosclerosis, says the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Additionally, turmeric proponents use the herb to treat bacterial infections, painful menstruation and chest pains, says the American Cancer Society.

Active Constituents

Turmeric contains circumin, a constituent that counteracts free radicals, substances that cause cell damage and cell death, says the UMMC. Circumin can also reduce inflammation by lowering inflammatory enzyme levels in the blood.

Considerations

You may experience heartburn, diarrhea, nausea or stomach upset while taking turmeric in food or herbal form. Alert your doctor and discontinue use if you have a scheduled surgery, says the National Institutes of Health (NIH). You should not use turmeric if you have gallstones, warns the NIH, because the herb may cause gallbladder contractions.

Warning

Do not take turmeric if you use anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs such as Plavix, aspirin or Coumadin–also known as blood thinners–because turmeric may alter your blood’s ability to clot, says the UMMC. Turmeric may also increase the effects of diabetes drugs that lower blood sugar and ultimately initiate hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Finally, do not take turmeric with drugs that reduce stomach acid such as Prevacid, Pepcid or Zantac, as turmeric may negatively interfere with their intended purpose.

About this Author

Based in Louisiana, Lynette Hingle has been a freelance writer since 2007. She specializes in health and fitness and travel-related articles and writes for various online outlets, including Associated Content. Hingle holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication and journalism from Southeastern Louisiana University.