The Potential Side Effects of Consuming Too Much Turmeric
Turmeric has become an incredibly popular spice and herbal supplement in recent years. Known for its bright yellow-orange color and earthy, bitter taste, turmeric contains curcumin, a compound with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. For this reason, many people take turmeric supplements to boost their health and reduce inflammation.
- What is Turmeric?
- Potential Side Effects of Too Much Turmeric
- How Much Turmeric is Too Much?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Is it safe to take turmeric every day?
- How much turmeric is too much?
- Can too much turmeric cause liver problems?
- Does turmeric affect kidney function?
- Can turmeric raise blood pressure?
- Does turmeric affect blood sugar levels?
- Can turmeric thin the blood?
- Is it safe to take turmeric when pregnant?
- Can turmeric affect fertility?
- How much turmeric should you take a day?
- What time of day should you take turmeric?
However, some people are consuming large amounts of turmeric each day in the hopes of reaping even more benefits. This has led some to wonder whether there's any harm in consuming too much turmeric.
So how much turmeric is too much? This article reviews the potential side effects of turmeric when consumed in high amounts.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant. It is commonly used in Asian dishes and gives curry powder its distinctive yellow color.
Curcumin is the main active compound in turmeric. This powerful phytonutrient gives turmeric its medicinal properties and is responsible for virtually all of turmeric's science-backed benefits.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, studies show that curcumin may boost heart health, fight age-related chronic diseases, and even aid in weight management.
Because of the impressive benefits of curcumin, turmeric supplements have become very popular. Many of these contain anywhere from 500–1,000 mg of turmeric extract, and recommended daily doses can reach up to 2,000 mg.
Unfortunately, consuming high amounts of turmeric or curcumin supplements can cause side effects in some individuals.
Potential Side Effects of Too Much Turmeric
Although turmeric consumed in moderation is considered safe and healthy, taking very large amounts of turmeric or curcumin supplements daily may cause adverse side effects.
Here are some of the potential side effects of consuming too much turmeric.
1. May Cause Diarrhea and Stomach Pain
Some of the most commonly reported side effects of turmeric are diarrhea and stomach pain.
Many studies have found that both high doses of turmeric supplements and excessive consumption of turmeric as a spice can cause gastrointestinal issues.
For example, one study in 106 people taking 500 mg of turmeric for 8 weeks found that close to 1 in 5 participants experienced diarrhea as a side effect.
Similarly, a study reported that consuming around 1 teaspoon (2.8 grams) of turmeric daily for just 30 days resulted in diarrhea in 2 out of 22 participants.
The stomach pain and diarrhea caused by turmeric are likely attributed to curcumin's ability to stimulate the gallbladder to produce more bile. In excess amounts, this can irritate the gastrointestinal tract.
2. May Cause Nausea and Metallic Taste
In addition to diarrhea and stomach pain, high amounts of turmeric may also cause nausea.
One study found that taking 1,000 mg of curcumin daily for 2 months caused nausea in 12 out of 24 participants.
Additionally, some studies have shown that turmeric supplements can temporarily induce a metallic taste in the mouth. The severity and duration seem to vary between individuals, but it can last for several hours after consuming a dose.
3. May Cause Skin Rash
Turmeric may also cause a skin rash in some people, especially when consumed in large amounts.
One study in 8 people noted that consuming 500 mg of curcumin daily for a week caused a skin rash in one participant.
Several other studies have also shown that both turmeric supplements and spice can cause skin reactions, especially when consumed in excess. Skin reactions can include contact dermatitis or hives.
4. May Increase Bleeding Risk
Turmeric contains a compound called ascorbic acid, or vitamin C. Some research shows that vitamin C supplements can increase the risk of bleeding when taken in high doses.
Similarly, several studies have found that turmeric can increase the risk of bleeding, especially when combined with other blood thinners like warfarin, aspirin or anti-platelet drugs.
Some research indicates that turmeric may disrupt the clotting process and prevent clots from forming properly, increasing bruising and bleeding risk. Therefore, those with bleeding disorders or taking blood thinners should be cautious with turmeric dosage.
5. May Impact Fertility
Some sources claim that high amounts of turmeric could impact fertility, especially in women. However, the current research is limited and provides mixed results.
One study in rats found that consuming 500 mg/kg of curcumin for 10 days decreased fertility in females.
However, a follow-up study in rats found that lower doses of around 15 mg/kg body weight for 60 days actually improved several markers of female reproductive health.
More research is needed to determine how turmeric may impact reproductive function in humans when consumed in normal dietary amounts.
6. May Cause Iron Deficiency
Several studies have observed that turmeric and its compounds may interfere with iron absorption.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies worldwide and can cause symptoms like fatigue, dizziness and headaches.
Some research shows that turmeric inhibits the absorption of iron into the bloodstream, which could contribute to iron deficiency if consumed in large amounts.
One study in 646 pregnant women found that taking 190 mg per day of curcumin supplements was associated with lower iron levels and an increased risk of anemia. Another study showed that cooking cauliflower with turmeric significantly decreased the uptake of iron from the vegetable.
However, not all studies have shown that turmeric negatively impacts iron absorption. One study found that consuming up to 1.5 grams of turmeric per day did not affect markers of iron status in healthy adults. More research is needed.
7. May Impact Thyroid Function
Increased inflammation levels and impaired thyroid function are intrinsically linked. Studies show that the curcumin found in turmeric could impact thyroid hormone levels, depending on the dose consumed.
One study found that rats fed curcumin at doses exceeding 150 mg/kg of body weight significantly decreased thyroid hormone levels. What's more, 47% of rats fed the highest dose of curcumin developed marked thyroid suppression.
However, another study showed that lower amounts of curcumin enhanced thyroid function. Rats consuming 50–100 mg/kg body weight for 30 days experienced increased levels of thyroid hormones.
Although these results may not directly translate to humans, they do indicate that very high or very low doses could negatively impact thyroid function. More studies are needed to make definitive claims.
8. May Interact with Medications
Turmeric may impact the efficacy and potency of certain medications.
For example, some research indicates that high amounts of turmeric could reduce absorption of metformin, a medication used to treat diabetes.
Curcumin may also interact with anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin, increasing their effects.
Additionally, combining turmeric with blood thinners like warfarin or clopidogrel may increase bleeding risk. Therefore, it's best to discuss turmeric dosage with your healthcare provider if taking any medications to prevent negative interactions.
How Much Turmeric is Too Much?
There are no official guidelines for how much turmeric is too much. However, most studies observing adverse effects used doses ranging from 500–2,000 mg of turmeric extract daily.
Some research also shows that cooking with turmeric in typical culinary amounts is unlikely to cause any adverse health effects. However, regular consumption of concentrated turmeric powders may increase the risk of side effects.
Studies typically use doses ranging from 1–3 grams of turmeric powder daily without any serious adverse effects, besides some mild abdominal discomfort.
That said, it's impossible to determine a standardized amount that could cause negative effects since each person will react differently based on factors like age, health status and medical history.
As a general guideline, it's likely best to limit turmeric intake to less than 1 teaspoon (2–3 grams) of turmeric powder per day if using it regularly. Consuming greater amounts for short periods is unlikely to cause any serious side effects in healthy people.
However, those with gallbladder issues, bleeding disorders, iron deficiency or thyroid problems may want to limit intake or avoid turmeric supplements altogether. Additionally, turmeric may need to be avoided if taking certain medications like blood thinners, metformin or aspirin.
Incorporating small amounts of turmeric into your diet as a spice is generally safe and unlikely to cause any adverse health effects.
However, consuming large amounts of turmeric daily may cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain in some individuals.
Turmeric intake may need to be limited for those with medical conditions like gallbladder disease, bleeding disorders, iron deficiency, thyroid dysfunction or fertility issues.
Additionally, turmeric could interact with certain medications like blood thinners, diabetes drugs and anti-inflammatory medications.
For most people, consuming less than one teaspoon (2–3 grams) daily of turmeric powder is unlikely to cause any serious side effects. However, it's best to consult your doctor to determine the right dosage based on your medical history.
Overall, turmeric is very safe when consumed in moderation. However, more research is still needed on the potential adverse effects of taking very large doses over long periods of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to take turmeric every day?
Taking small amounts of turmeric daily as a spice or seasoning is generally safe. Consuming up to 1 teaspoon (2-3 grams) per day is unlikely to cause side effects in most people. However, some people may experience nausea, diarrhea or stomach pain if consuming large amounts long-term.
How much turmeric is too much?
There is no official upper limit for turmeric consumption. However, most studies observing side effects used very high doses of 500-2,000 mg turmeric extract daily. Consuming more than 1 teaspoon (2-3 grams) of turmeric powder per day regularly may increase the risk of adverse effects.
Can too much turmeric cause liver problems?
There is limited research on the effects of large amounts of turmeric on liver function. One study in rats showed that very high doses of 2,000-2,500 mg per kg body weight may increase liver enzymes, indicating potential liver damage. However, human studies are needed.
Does turmeric affect kidney function?
There is no evidence that turmeric harms kidney function when consumed in normal dietary amounts. Very limited data suggests extremely high doses over 1,000 mg per day may potentially cause kidney stones or kidney failure in those predisposed. However, human studies are lacking.
Can turmeric raise blood pressure?
There is no research showing turmeric consumption raises blood pressure. In fact, turmeric and its compounds have traditionally been studied for their potential to reduce blood pressure. Thus, turmeric is unlikely to increase blood pressure when consumed in normal dietary amounts.
Does turmeric affect blood sugar levels?
Limited evidence suggests large amounts of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, may potentially lower blood sugar levels. However, most studies show that turmeric does not significantly affect blood glucose when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Can turmeric thin the blood?
Turmeric may act as a mild blood thinner due to its vitamin K content. It may also theoretically increase the effects of actual blood thinning medications. However, research shows that typical dietary consumption is very unlikely to significantly impact coagulation or cause bleeding problems in healthy people.
Is it safe to take turmeric when pregnant?
Small amounts of turmeric used for seasoning during pregnancy are likely safe. However, due to limited research, large medicinal doses are not recommended. Some studies observe that high supplemental doses of over 1,000 mg curcumin daily may alter hormone levels.
Can turmeric affect fertility?
Limited animal studies provide conflicting results on the effects of turmeric on fertility. Some show high doses over 500 mg/kg body weight may reduce fertility, while other studies suggest doses under 100 mg/kg may improve fertility markers. More research is needed.
How much turmeric should you take a day?
There is no standardized daily dosage for turmeric. Culinary amounts are considered safe, usually about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon (about 500 mg) per day. Some herbal guidelines suggest taking up to 1,500 mg capsules daily but no more than 3 months continuously. It's best to speak with your doctor.
What time of day should you take turmeric?
You can take turmeric supplements any time of day. However, some research shows taking it with black pepper and/or fats at mealtimes may enhance absorption. Avoid taking it right before bedtime, as turmeric may potentially disrupt sleep due to its stimulant properties.