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Turmeric is the golden-yellow spice you will find in every South Asian kitchen. Turmeric drink is also sold as popularly as a cappuccino in many places.
The spice is obtained by powdering the dried root of Curcuma longa, a plant in the same family as ginger. It contains many bioactive compounds, the main one being curcumin.
Turmeric acts as a strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agent. (1)
In Ayurveda, turmeric is used to treat: (1)
- Upper respiratory infections
- Liver diseases such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
Recently, curcumin supplements have become available, the dosages of which range from 100–1000 mg daily.
Even though turmeric is used to manage liver conditions, excessive use of turmeric, or when it is made highly bioavailable, can result in liver injury and hepatitis. (1)
In addition, significantly high daily doses of turmeric (3 g via capsules) can also increase the levels of oxalates in the blood, contributing to the formation of kidney stones, especially in those who are already at risk. (2)
Therefore, high levels of daily turmeric can cause significant damage to the liver and cause kidney stones.
Turmeric and the Liver
In a case study of a woman presenting with acute hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), it was found that she was taking 2,000 mg daily dose of turmeric (in the form of capsules) and black pepper (which increases bioavailability). (3) Her liver health improved after stopping the intake of turmeric capsules.
In another report, a woman consuming turmeric tablets twice a day experienced nausea and vomiting. This was due to a severe elevation in liver enzymes. Similar to the first case, her liver health improved a month after stopping turmeric supplements. (3)
In both cases, turmeric consumption was in the form of capsules at very large daily doses.
Turmeric and the Kidneys
As mentioned, excessive consumption of turmeric in the form of supplements can cause a rise in oxalates in the blood due to the high content of oxalates in turmeric. These oxalates bind to calcium in the diet to form calcium oxalate, which is responsible for 75% of all kidney stones. (4)
For people who are at risk of developing kidney stones, it is recommended to have no more than a teaspoon of turmeric a day. (4)
What Is the Safe Dose of Turmeric?
Curcumin supplements are identified as safe by the US Food and Drug Association. In studies done on healthy people, daily dosages of 80–500 mg are considered safe for healthy people. (5)
For people at high risk of kidney stones, it is better to avoid supplements and have no more than a teaspoon of turmeric powder a day.
In addition, it is important to ensure the turmeric you consume (powder or supplement) should have FDA approval and is free from additives.
- Turmeric is rich in curcumin, its main bioactive compound.
- Generally, turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and can help prevent many non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and metabolic syndrome.
- However, it has been found that high daily doses of turmeric can cause acute hepatitis and increases liver enzymes (which further causes nausea and vomiting).
- In addition, the high oxalate content of turmeric (which is concentrated in a supplement) can lead to the formation of kidney stones, especially in those who are prone to them.
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