What is curcumin?

Curcumin is a polyphenol (aromatic alcohol), found in turmeric – a spice derived from the roots of a Curcuma longa plant used in South Asia and Middle East [1]. Curcumin is poorly absorbed [2].

Foods High in Curcumin

Foods high in curcumin are turmeric and mustard.

Curcumin as a Food Additive

Curcumin may be used as a yellow-orange color in margarines, butter, cheese, ice creams, yogurts, beverages, popcorn, sweets and other commercial foods. In the European Union, curcumin is labeled as the E-number E100.

Curcumin Supplements

Nonprescription (over-the-counter) curcumin is available as:

  • Turmeric supplements (the amount of curcumin in hem may vary a lot)
  • Curcumin supplements

Turmeric Health Benefits

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE [1,2] about the effectiveness of turmeric supplements in the prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, bruising, cancer (colorectal), cystic fibrosis, diabetes mellitus type 2 [7], diarrhea, fibromyalgia, gum disease (gingivitis), headache, high cholesterol [8], inflammatory diseases [6] (anterior uveitis, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis, lupus nephritis, osteoarthritis [5], ulcerative colitis [4]), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), itchy skin, lichen planus, liver and gallbladder problems, menstrual problems, pain, recovery from surgery, rheumatoid arthritis, ringworm, stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection, stomach upset (dyspepsia), tuberculosis or in stimulating immunity or as an antioxidant [1].

Curcumin Safety: Side Effects, Toxicity

Turmeric supplements are LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied on the skin [2].

Side effects may include stomach upset, nausea, dizziness or diarrhea.

During Pregnancy

Turmeric supplements are LIKELY UNSAFE during pregnancy.

No serious side effects or toxicity of curcumin have been observed so far, but pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid it since its effect on unborn babies were not sufficiently tested so far [1]. Women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer should also avoid curcumin supplements [1].

Turmeric-Drug Interactions

Turmeric supplements may slow blood clotting and can therefore increase the risk of bleeding when taken together with anti-clotting drugs, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, dalteparin, enoxaparin, heparin or warfarin [2].

  1. Curcumin  Linus Pauling Institute
  2. Curcumin  Food and Agriculture Organization
  3. Turmeric uses, side effects  WebMD
  4. Garg SK et al, 2012, Curcumin for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis  Cochrane
  5. Henrotin Y et al, 2013, Curcumin: a new paradigm and therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of osteoarthritis: curcumin for osteoarthritis management  PubMed Central
  6. Chainani-Wu N, 2003, Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa)  PubMed
  7. Dong-wei Z et al, 2013, Curcumin and Diabetes: A Systematic Review  PubMed Central
  8. Sahebkar A et al, 2014, A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of curcumin on blood lipid  PubMed Health

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