Turmeric: A Popular Spice

June 14, 2016

Turmeric is in fact a spice belonging to the same family as ginger. Regularly used in cooking as a coloring or flavoring agent, it is often found in curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. The roots of the turmeric plant are typically boiled and dried, producing the telltale yellow powder that we often see in our spice racks. Turmeric has been used for several years in Chinese medicine for the treatment of various health conditions. Today, this spice has been gaining more consideration from researchers due to its potential role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

The main active ingredient of turmeric is curcumin. It is this ingredient that appears to possess turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, by interacting with a variety of different compounds in our bodies. Over the past few years, there have been scientific studies demonstrating that certain turmeric preparations may help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Interestingly enough, there have been other studies that have compared turmeric to typical arthritis medications. One particular study demonstrated that 500mg of a specific turmeric extract, taken three to four times per day for four to six weeks was similar to ibuprofen 400mg, taken two to three times per day, in helping to decrease knee pain in individuals suffering from osteoarthritis.

Despite being a traditional cooking spice, turmeric does have a variety of warnings and potential interactions. Primarily, turmeric should be used with caution in individuals taking blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin or clopidogrel. Used in combination, blood thinning medications and turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding due to turmeric’s potential antiplatelet activity. There have also been reports that turmeric may lower blood glucose levels. 

Clinical evidence has documented turmeric as being likely safe when used correctly, in oral dosages up to 2.2 grams per day. Although it is usually tolerated quite well, potential side effects do include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Turmeric is becoming an increasingly popular natural health product for arthritic pain. Contact us for more information.