Are turmeric supplements safe and good for health?
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family native to Southeast Asia. It is used in various dishes such as Indian curries and historically has been used in Eastern Asian medical systems, such as in India and China.
Nontraditional approaches are not typically regarded as mainstream, but natural plant-based therapies have long been dominant in many developing countries and enjoyed heavy use historically, especially during pandemics.
Turmeric has been promoted for numerous ailments, including arthritis, digestive disorders, respiratory infections, allergies, depression and dementia. (Curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow color, is a major component of turmeric. The two names are often used interchangeably, with the activities of turmeric commonly attributed to curcumin and vice versa.)
Research suggests that curcumin is an anti-inflammatory agent and a strong antioxidant, that is, a substance capable of neutralizing dangerous free radicals. (Free radicals are unstable molecules produced during cell metabolism which can build up in the body, causing damage to other cells and raising the risk of cancer and other diseases.)
Is it safe to take turmeric supplements?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says there isn’t enough data from human studies to determine the efficacy of turmeric supplements. Most of the available research comes from labs — in cell lines and animals — rather than in humans.
It’s probably safe (for those who aren’t pregnant) to take orally in the recommended amounts, says the NCCIH, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. (Recommended amounts are usually found on bottle labels. DiNubile suggests 1,000 milligrams a day.)
Turmeric is difficult to study because curcumin is unstable and poorly absorbed, the NCCIH says.
“There is a mountain of literature on curcumin, but the vast majority is preclinical,” or tested in the lab, “which can’t be easily projected to how it will or will not work in humans,” said D. Craig Hopp, the NCCIH’s deputy director of extramural research. Also, numerous clinical trials have not been able to replicate the activity observed in cells or animals, a fairly common occurrence not only in herbal medicine but also in pharmaceutical research, he said.
Source: Washington Post