Turmeric is an ingredient often used in curry for its pepper-like spice and bitter flavor. It comes from the curcuma longa plant and has brown skin with an orange flesh. The herb has been considered an anti-inflammatory in Indian and Chinese medicines. Turmeric has not, however, been approved in the United States as a medical treatment for inflammation. Consult with a healthcare professional before using this supplement.
You can use Tumeric to relieve the inflammation of a number of conditions. The World’s Healthiest Foods organization touts the curcumin in turmeric as having anti-inflammatory effects comparable to skin treatments like hydrocortisone. Medline Plus, a division of the U.S. Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, also notes that turmeric has been used to treat other rheumatic diseases, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, though they have not found any conclusive human studies on these diseases. There has also been some suggestion of its use in uveitis, an inflammation of the eye.
Curcumin, thought of as the main pharmacological agent in turmeric according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, has been shown as working as well as some non-prescription anti-inflammatories, such as Motrin. The organization also notes that clinical studies substantiated that turmeric has antioxidant effects which can lead to an increase in joint inflammation associated with arthritis. The quoted studies measured ability to walk longer and level of joint inflammation.
While turmeric may be useful for inflammation, the National Institutes of Health cautions on its interaction with other medications and supplements. Turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding, especially when used with ginkgo biloba and garlic. It may also lower blood sugar, interfering with diabetic medication, and alter cholesterol, increasing the effects of cholesterol-lowering supplements. Be sure that all healthcare professionals see are aware of any use of turmeric.
The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine is funding a study on the anti-inflammatory effects on turmeric. In the meantime, turmeric is used as a spice in many cultures and appears to be safe when used in food. The use of it by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, according to Medline Plus, may not be safe. There has been a possible link to uterine contractions and problems with fetal development in association with turmeric use.
The long term use of turmeric for inflammation has not been concluded and it may cause digestive problems, according to Medline Plus. In addition, the site cautions on problems with the liver and gallbladder of those on high doses. Turmeric could also be a problem for those with immune deficiencies. The safety and risk of all supplemental medication should be discussed with your doctor.