Turmeric root extract health benefit, side effects, supplement dosage, and medical uses -  What is the right dosage? Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Does it play a role as an anti-inflammatory substance? How about its role in cancer prevention and Alzheimer's disease?
July 19 2014

Turmeric is a plant (Curcuma longa), native to South India and Indonesia that has many health benefits. The root been used from antiquity as a condiment in Asian cooking such as curries, as a textile dye, and medically as an aromatic stimulant. It is a common ingredient in Indian food, such as curry powder, and yellow mustard. An extract from turmeric root called curcumin has become quite popular with articles in major magazines and newspapers due to its various health benefits. Pure turmeric powder has a curcumin concentration of 3 percent by weight, however there are other beneficial substances in the powder. Extracts with a higher concentration of curcumin are available. There are estimates that people in India consume about 2 grams of turmeric a day which provides roughly 100 mg of curcumin. Some scientists think that the regular ingestion of this spice is partly to be credited for the reduced rate of Alzheimer's disease in India.

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Extensive scientific research on curcumin and turmeric has demonstrated their potent antioxidant properties. Through their various mechanisms, this spice supports colon health, exerts neuroprotective activity and help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Dosage: One to three capsules a day.

 


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Benefit of turmeric root extract
In lab tests, the active ingredient in turmeric, called curcumin, can enhance the cancer-fighting power of treatment with TRAIL, a naturally occurring molecule that helps kill cancer cells. TRAIL stands for tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand. In an experiment with human prostate cancer cells in a laboratory dish, the combination treatment killed off two to three times more cells than either treatment alone.
   Curcumin may block the progression of multiple sclerosis.
   May benefit children against leukemia. Curcumin inhibits the multiplication of leukemia cells in laboratory studies and seems to protect against damage caused by cigarette smoke and eating certain processed foods.

Alzheimer's disease
Scientists found that curcumin was able to reduce deposits of beta-amyloid proteins in the brains of elderly lab mice that ate it as part of their diets. Furthermore, when the researchers added low doses of curcumin to human beta-amyloid proteins in a test tube, the compound kept the proteins from aggregating and blocked the formation of the amyloid fibers that make up Alzheimer's plaques.

Arthritis
Email testimonial - I began taking 1 gram of tumeric curcumin several years ago for possible Alzheimer’s prevention. Both my father and& father-in-law have it. Recently, I came across several articles about the anti-inflammatory properties being tested for arthritis as well, and decided to increase my dose to 2 gms per day. I had been experiencing arthritic pain in my thumb and hip for over a year, and was concerned about the NSAIDs I was taking at increasing doses and frequency…as well as the very limited relief I was getting. I was already taking 1500mg glucosamine 1200mg / chondroitin / MSM daily. After a week or two at the 2 gm dose, my arthritis pain is virtually gone and I haven’t taken any other NSAIDs.

Cancer, helping reduce tumors or prevention
Increase in plasma concentrations of geranylgeranoic Acid after turmeric tablet intake by healthy volunteers.
J Clin Biochem Nutrition. 2010.
Geranylgeranoic acid (GGA) is one of the most potent cancer-preventive acyclic retinoids. GGA has been shown to induce cell death in human hepatoma-derived HuH-7 cells. We have recently reported the natural occurrence of GGA and its related compounds in several medicinal herbs such as turmeric, basil, rosehip, cinnamon and others. In the present study, we performed oral administration of turmeric tablets to healthy volunteers in order to investigate bioavailability of natural GGA. With healthy volunteers, plasma GGA was detected prior to the tablet intake and its concentrations were increased at 2 h after its intake and maintained at higher level until 4 h, suggesting an efficient bioavailability of preformed GGA in the turmeric tablets through oral administration. These results indicated that GGA in the turmeric tablet was absorbed as an intact form from intestinal mucosa.

Bharat Aggarwal of the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, says. "What's exciting about this agent is that it seems to have both chemopreventive and therapeutic properties. Bharat Aggarwal injected mice with human breast cancer cells -- a batch of cells grown from a patient whose cancer had spread to the lungs. The resulting tumors were allowed to grow, and then surgically removed, to simulate a mastectomy. Then the mice either got no additional treatment; curcumin alone; the cancer drug paclitaxel, which is sold under the brand name Taxol; or curcumin plus Taxol. Half the mice in the curcumin -only group and 22 percent of those in the curcumin plus Taxol group had evidence of breast cancer that had spread to the lungs. But 75 percent of animals that got Taxol alone and 95 percent of those that got no treatment developed lung tumors. Earlier studies suggest that people who eat diets rich in turmeric have lower rates of breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. His team would like to try giving turmeric to women with a high risk of breast cancer -- such as those who have a mother or sister with the disease. No drug company is likely to develop a natural product that cannot be patented, he said. "There are no companies behind it so our only source of funding is either the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Defense," he said. This study was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's Breast Cancer Research Program.

Skin cancer
Curcumin interferes with melanoma cells. Tests in laboratory dishes show that it made melanoma skin cancer cells more likely to self-destruct in a process known as apoptosis. The same research team has found that turmeric helped stop the spread of breast cancer tumor cells to the lungs of mice. The turmeric suppressed two proteins that tumor cells use to keep themselves immortal. People who eat plenty of turmeric have lower rates of some cancers.

Heart health, cardiovascular system
Protective effects of Curcuma longa on ischemia-reperfusion induced myocardial injuries and their mechanisms.
Life Sci. 2004.
 Wistar rats were divided into three groups and received saline orally (sham, control I/R group) and Turmeric 100 mg/kg respectively for one month. On the 31st day, rats of the control I/R and turmeric treated groups were subjected to 45 min of occlusion of the LAD coronary artery and were thereafter reperfused for 1 h. I/R resulted in significant cardiac necrosis, depression in left ventricular function, decline in antioxidant status and elevation in lipid perodixation in the control I/R group as compared to sham control. Myocardial infarction produced after I/R was significantly reduced in the turmeric treated group. Cardioprotective effect of turmeric likely results from the suppression of oxidative stress and correlates with the improved ventricular function.

 I read about its abilities to help in cases such as arthritis. I have arthritis or I wouldn’t be asking the most vital question which is, is turmeric safe enough for a heart transplant patient to take?
   I am not sure. It may depend on the types of medications a person is on. I have not seen studies regarding its use in cases of heart transplant patients.

Irritable bowel syndrome IBS
Turmeric extract may improve irritable bowel syndrome symptomology in otherwise healthy adults: a pilot study.
J Altern Complement Med. 2004.
Five hundred volunteers were screened for IBS using the Rome II criteria. Two hundred and seven suitable volunteers were randomized. One or two tablets of a standardized turmeric extract taken daily for 8 weeks. Approximately two thirds of all subjects reported an improvement in symptoms after treatment, and there was a favorable shift in self-reported bowel pattern.

Kidney disease
J Nephrol. Jan 31 2014. Effects of turmeric on uremic pruritus in end stage renal disease patients: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. Uremic pruritus as a symptom that affects hemodialysis (HD) patients can decrease the quality of life and increase morbidity in these patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of turmeric on uremic pruritus in HD patients. This was a double-blind placebo-controlled trial conducted on 100 HD patients suffering from pruritus. Patients (mean age 53.3 ± 15.8 years) were randomized into two groups: turmeric and placebo. The pruritus score and biochemical determinants including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) were compared before and at the end of the study between the two groups. The mean decrease in hs-CRP was significantly higher in the turmeric than the placebo group. Also reduction of pruritus scores was greater in the turmeric than the placebo group. No side effect was observed during the study due to the use of turmeric. This study demonstrates the possible efficacy of turmeric in decreasing hs-CRP and uremic pruritus in end stage renal disease patients. Future studies are needed to further evaluate the efficacy and safety of turmeric.

Lupus
Oral Supplementation of Turmeric Decreases Proteinuria, Hematuria, and Systolic Blood Pressure in Patients Suffering from Relapsing or Refractory Lupus Nephritis: A Randomized and Placebo-controlled Study. J Renal Nutr. 2011.

Multiple myeloma
Turmeric extract may be of benefit in multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, early lab research shows--suggesting yet another health benefit from this long-heralded substance. Adding curcumin to human cells with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and his colleagues found, stopped the cells from replicating. And the cells that were left died.

Rheumatoid arthritis
Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis.
Arthritis Rheum. 2006.
A curcuminoid containing turmeric extract was administered intraperitoneally to female Lewis rats prior to or after the onset of streptococcal cell wall-induced arthritis. In vivo treatment prevented local activation of NF-kappaB and the subsequent expression of NF-kappaB-regulated genes mediating joint inflammation and destruction, including chemokines, cyclooxygenase 2, and RANKL. Consistent with these findings, inflammatory cell influx, joint levels of prostaglandin E(2), and periarticular osteoclast formation were inhibited by treatment.

Turmeric extracts containing curcuminoids prevent experimental rheumatoid arthritis.
J Nat Prod. 2006.

Turmeric side effects, adverse events, caution
Various cultures, particularly people living in India, have used turmeric powder for centuries or millennia. Turmeric supplements have been available much less time as medicinal drugs in Western countries. No major turmeric side effects have been reported in the medical literature. Taking too many turmeric capsules may increase body temperature. For long term use, one to three turmeric capsules a day should not present any major problems. Some people may be taking several turmeric curcumin capsules a day for the treatment of a particular medical condition as advised by their health care provider. Side effects of high dose turmeric curcumin use of several months or years is not clear. We also don't know what kind of turmeric side effects would occur when high doses of this herb is combined with prescription medications. There is a possibility that high dose turmeric ingestion leads to high oxalic acid in the urine leading to kidney stones.

Effect of cinnamon and turmeric on urinary oxalate excretion, plasma lipids, and plasma glucose in healthy subjects
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008.
Eleven healthy subjects participated in an 8-week, randomly assigned, crossover study that involved the ingestion of supplemental doses of cinnamon and turmeric for 4-wk periods that provided 55 mg oxalate/d. Oxalate load tests, which entailed the ingestion of a 63-mg dose of oxalate from the test spices, were performed after each 4-wk experimental period and at the study onset with water only (control treatment). Compared with the cinnamon and control treatments, turmeric ingestion led to a significantly higher urinary oxalate excretion during the oxalate load tests. There were no significant changes in fasting plasma glucose or lipids in conjunction with the 4-wk periods of either cinnamon or turmeric supplementation. The percentage of oxalate that was water soluble differed markedly between cinnamon (6%) and turmeric (91%), which appeared to be the primary cause of the greater urinary oxalate excretion/oxalate absorption from turmeric. The consumption of supplemental doses of turmeric, but not cinnamon, can significantly increase urinary oxalate levels, thereby increasing risk of kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals.

I take it in a powder form mixed with water when I get boils. My mom has started taking the capsule form and swears by it. I read the study done on correlation with kidney stones: “The consumption of supplemental doses of turmeric, but not cinnamon, can significantly increase urinary oxalate levels, thereby increasing risk of kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals.” I heard recently how calcium can help prevent the formation of stones. I wonder if I could mix the turmeric powder with milk when I take it and have less chance of kidney stones – I think they might run in my family. Alas, that brings us back to the traditional method of consumption of curries – mixed with yogurt! We westerners have so much catching up (or rather back tracking) to do. Thank you for the information you provide.
    It is difficult to predict the effect of this supplement if combined with milk. I am not aware of any actual human studies with turmeric pills that led to the occurrence of kidney stones. I think if people drink enough water there should be no problems, except perhaps in those who are very susceptible to stone formation. I will await results of studies on this topic.

History
Turmeric is botanically known as Curcuma longa, derived from the old Arabic name for the kurkum. In some areas of the Far East, the fresh root is used and stored much like ginger. This Asian spice that makes French's mustard and Hindu priests' robes yellow is a promising potential weapon against several cancers, Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, psoriasis and other diseases.

Emails
Q. Does taking tumeric affect warfarin, 5 mg./day that I take. In other words: Will the INR be affected by using the usual dose of tumeric?
   A. This is a good question. We have not seen any studies regarding the interaction of turmeric or curcumin and warfarin so it is difficult for us to predict. If you are planning to use turmeric along with Coumadin, then under medical supervision you could try one turmeric capsule a day and test your inr to see if there is an effect.

My mother in law used turmeric supplement for a few weeks and now has itching. She has melanoma.
   This is the first we have heard of this possible relationship between turmeric and itching. The best option is to stop the turmeric for a couple of weeks and under medical guidance to reintroduce it in small amounts to see if the turmeric was the cause or whether it was something else coincidentally causing the itching, perhaps other supplements she is taking or medicines, or a medical condition.

In general terms, do the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric act as NSAIDs do in terms of compounding hypertensive issues? I understand that NSAIDs affect hypertensive people by rendering their anti-hypertensives ineffective. Does Turmeric either act in this manner, or contribute to elevated blood pressures in the non-medicated person? If those people with variety of arthritis problems plus hypertension could take Turmeric, it would be such a blessing. This is one issue that I do not see discussed in my turmeric research, and would be very helpful if published.
   We have not come across any meaningful research regarding the role of turmeric in blood pressure.

Can a person with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C take a turmeric supplement?
   Probably, if their doctor approves. But I don't know how it interacts with liver cells in those with hepatitis.

Could you please tell me if 'ground turmeric spice will work just as well as the capsules? I have been mixing it and ginger and drinking it, for quite some time (yuck, but I'll do anything to help the IBS & prevent cancer, as it is raging in my family.
    Ground turmeric is very beneficial and would be similar to the that ingested as a capsule. However, the curcumin / turmeric product by Physician Formulas has a 95% turmeric extract for curcumin which provides a high amount of this beneficial substance. Ground turmeric used as a condiment usually has 5 percent or so of curcuminoids. However, if a high amount of ground turmeric spice is used, it could be just as good as taking a curcumin / turmeric capsule.

I am a 70 year old male and have had psoriasis for over 40 years. It has progresses to approximately 20 percent coverage. I began having minor arthritis symptoms in my shoulder and hands about 3 years ago. I began taking 2 grams of turmeric in capsule following one 10mg of Bioperine 3 times per day 5 months ago. My arthritis is practically non existent. I was taking 800 mg of Ibuprofen each morning to alleviate the pain. I take none now! My psoriasis has improved probably 70 percent with practically no scaling, a great reduction in redness and almost no itching. ( I sometimes catch myself itching out of habit alone since I clawed myself daily for years). There is continued noticeable improvement. I take no medications. I am blessed that I have never been hospitalized. I wish the benefits of turmeric could be trumpeted to all. Of course, we know that the many medical studies that could prove the benefits of turmeric will never be done because there is no way for the huge money hungry drug companies to benefit from a non patented cure or at least greatly beneficial product. You are authorized to use my experience in any manner you see fit in order to make others aware of Turmeric. I applaud your internet postings as to the known and possible benefits of turmeric.

Does the curcumin capsules you provide contain more curcuminoids than the turmeric you purchase from stores? How many tsp's (or another unit of measure) do the capsules equal compared to turmeric powder? Is it higher quality or it it the same? If it is higher quality, before i order, i still need to know how many capsules would equal how much turmeric to get my dosing correct.
    This supplement has 250 mg of turmeric extract and 250 mg of turmeric powder. The turmeric extract is 95% curcuminoids, therefore, 95% of the 250 mg turmeric extract is curcumin, which is about 238 mg. Turmeric powder itself is only 5% curcumin. Therefore 5% of 250 mg of the turmeric is curcuminoids, which makes it about 12 mg. in total, this curcumin-turmeric  supplement has a total of 500 mg of which about 250 mg is pure curcumin. We provide the highest curcumin quality we can find.

Read your stuff on curcumin. Do you know if turmeric is equally effective, and if so what dosage is correct (for general cancer and brain protective functions)? I live in Cambodia where turmeric is easy enough to find, but I doubt if anyone has ever heard of curcumin extract capsules or the like. (And there is no mail delivery.)
    Turmeric contains small amounts of curcumin and other substances. Most curcumin supplements have a very high extract of turmeric. Even though the turmeric extract curcumin is much more potent that turmeric alone, turmeric itself has health benefits. The appropriate dosage to prevent or treat various health conditions is not clear. Practically speaking one should use turmeric to the extent that it makes their food palatable. It is also possible to perhaps mix some in juice and ingest it that way.

Is it alright to take turmeric with Lipitor or a statin drug if so how much I can get the spice powder not sure of tablets.
    Although small amounts of this spice should be safe with Lipitor, Zocor or any statin drug, it is not easy to give blanket statements since each person is different in their response and reaction.

Given that many herbs such as tumeric have been used in large doses for thousands of years by millions in India, isn't that a better safety criteria than a six month clinical drug trial by some pharmaceutical company who has a vested interest in the outcome?
    Yes, the historical use of an herb needs to be seriously taken into account as part of a holistic understanding of the benefits and harm.