Does Turmeric Cause Diarrhea?

Does Turmeric Cause Diarrhea?

Turmeric, a golden spice commonly used in cooking and natural medicine, has a slew of health advantages, ranging from anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics to a possible role in treating some chronic conditions. 

However, despite its numerous benefits, there are several questions about potential negative effects. These concerns raise the question, “Can turmeric cause diarrhea?” 

We’ll dive into whether or not this popular spice might cause intestinal discomfort, such as diarrhea.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a brilliant yellow spice that originates from the root of the turmeric plant. It has been used for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.

The turmeric plant is a member of the ginger family and is native to Southeast Asia. Turmeric’s striking golden color and pungent, bitter flavor are derived from curcuminoids, the plant’s major bioactive components found in its rhizomes. Curcumin, the curcuminoid responsible for turmeric’s brilliant yellow color, is the most extensively researched.

Turmeric powder is prepared by boiling, drying, and grinding the turmeric plant’s rhizomes to a fine powder. This powder has been a staple spice in Indian cuisine for hundreds of years, giving many curry dishes their distinct golden yellow color and mustard-like taste.

Turmeric has been used to treat respiratory problems, liver abnormalities, skin diseases, wounds, and gastrointestinal concerns in Indian Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Many of these traditional applications have been validated by recent scientific studies into the biological activity of turmeric.

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric has been utilized in traditional medicine and cuisine for thousands of years. Many of its supposed health advantages are becoming more scientifically supported. 

The major active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which gives it its brilliant yellow color and is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects.

Some of the potentially beneficial effects of turmeric supported by scientific research include:

Reducing inflammation

The curcumin in turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Studies suggest it may be as effective as some anti-inflammatory medications for treating arthritis.

Antioxidant properties

Turmeric is high in antioxidants that can help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress which contributes to aging and disease.

Improving arthritis symptoms

Several studies show turmeric can reduce joint inflammation, pain, and stiffness in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

Supporting brain function

Curcumin may boost BDNF, a brain hormone that supports the growth of new brain cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Improving depression symptoms

Turmeric may boost neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine linked to depression when taken with antidepressants.

Reducing heart disease risk

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects are thought to improve heart health. One study found it was as effective as exercise for heart health.

Helping manage diabetes

Turmeric can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.

Potentially preventing cancer

Turmeric shows promise against some cancers like colorectal, prostate, and pancreatic, likely due to its antioxidant effects. More research is needed.

Can Turmeric Cause Diarrhea?

While turmeric and its key ingredient curcumin offer several health advantages, it is crucial to note that excessive use may cause minor negative effects. These effects are frequently observed when significant dosages of turmeric are ingested or curcumin supplements are used.

Diarrhea is one of the moderate adverse effects of eating too much turmeric. This is due to the spice’s naturally stimulating impact on the stomach, which can cause your digestive tract to speed up and result in loose, watery stools. 

This leads us to the conclusion that, while turmeric is generally well taken, it can induce diarrhea in some people, particularly when ingested in larger doses than suggested.

Dosage and Risk Factors

Consuming high amounts of turmeric or taking turmeric supplements may raise the risk of diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. Turmeric includes chemicals known as curcuminoids, which have therapeutic qualities but can irritate the digestive tract in high quantities.

The average culinary intake of turmeric powder is 1-3 grams per day. Studies have indicated that doses of more than 8 grams per day result in diarrhea and stomach discomfort. 

Taking turmeric pills with high amounts of curcuminoid chemicals might potentially cause digestive issues.

People with pre-existing gastrointestinal problems, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), may be more prone to turmeric diarrhea. People who have had their gallbladders removed appear to be more vulnerable.

Turmeric’s curcumin content can promote gallbladder contraction, causing pain, nausea, and diarrhea in people without a gallbladder. Starting with tiny dosages and gradually increasing your consumption might help reduce the likelihood of diarrhea and other digestive side effects. If you are experiencing gallbladder problems, you should consult your healthcare physician.

Reducing the Risk of Diarrhea

Turmeric is typically safe to take in the appropriate culinary quantities found in curries and spice mixes. However, taking turmeric supplements or ingesting large amounts may raise the risk of diarrhea and other gastrointestinal adverse effects in certain people. 

There are things you may do to lessen the likelihood of developing diarrhea when taking turmeric:

  • Controlled Doses: To avoid diarrhea and other adverse effects, consume no more than 1,500 – 2,000 mg of turmeric supplements each day.
  • Consult a Healthcare Practitioner: Before beginning any new dietary supplement, including turmeric or curcumin, always get the advice of a health practitioner.
  • Quality Matters: Not all turmeric and curcumin pills are the same. Make sure your supplement comes from a trustworthy supplier that guarantees its purity and safety.
  • Gradual raise: If you’re new to turmeric supplements, begin with a low dose and gradually raise it to reduce any negative effects.

Allow your body to gently acclimate to turmeric and curcumin. Pay heed to any possible negative effects. If diarrhea continues, reduce your dosage or discontinue supplementing. If your diarrhea is severe, notify your healthcare physician.

Other Potential Side Effects

When ingested at medical levels, turmeric might induce side effects other than diarrhea in some people. Additional possible adverse effects include:

Nausea

High doses of turmeric may cause feelings of nausea or upset stomach in some individuals. The degree of nausea can vary, and some report vomiting as well. Taking turmeric with food seems to minimize this effect.

Rash

Turmeric has been associated with skin rash and irritation when applied topically. Oral turmeric supplements may also rarely cause a rash. Stopping turmeric use typically resolves the rash.

Lowered blood pressure

Turmeric and its active compound curcumin have been shown to modestly lower blood pressure in those with hypertension. However, this effect may cause blood pressure to drop too low in some cases when combining turmeric with blood pressure medications.

When taken in moderation in cooking or as a supplement, turmeric has little adverse effects on most individuals. However, some people may be more sensitive to adverse effects. It is advised to begin with a modest dose and see your doctor if any adverse effects arise.

Conclusion

When it comes to reaping the most advantages from turmeric while limiting any negative effects, moderation is essential. Before making any substantial dietary changes, make sure to follow the suggested dose and consult a health expert. 

As the phrase goes, “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing,” which also applies to turmeric.

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Dr. Kimberly Langdon

Kimberly Langdon

Dr. Kimberly Langdon has been an MD for 31 years, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place accolades for her Senior Research Project and Score of 98th percentile on a National Proficiency Test.

During her clinical career, she delivered over 2000 babies and specialized in minimally invasive procedures, menopause, endometriosis, menstrual disorders, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. After retiring from clinical practice, she founded a medical device company to commercialize her two patented and four patent-pending medical devices for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening infections.

Kimberly Langdon M.D.

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Coologics, 2010-present
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimberly-langdon-m-d-41847610/
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine 1987-1991
The Ohio State University Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program 1991-1995
Private practice 1995-2010

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., received his medical doctorate from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. During his medical school training, Dr. Hsu worked with various patients, including adult and pediatric patients with acute and chronic conditions. Dr. Hsu’s interests include neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, and sleep medicine.

Before medical school, Dr. Hsu finished a master’s degree at Harvard University and wrote a thesis on neuroimaging in schizophrenia patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. Dr. Hsu was also a part of the 2008 NASA Phoenix Lander Mission team, which sent a robotic spacecraft to the North polar region of Mars. Dr. Hsu also had research experience on neuroimaging in neonates at Boston Children’s Hospital, another Harvard Medical School-affiliated Hospital.

Since graduating from medical school, Dr. Hsu has worked as a full-time medical writer and consultant. In addition, he has experience writing and ghostwriting books and articles for physicians and health technology start-up companies. Dr. Hsu believes good communication between healthcare providers and patients creates the best results.

Publications

-Peer Reviewed Journal Article:
Kounaves, S.P., Hecht, M.H., West, S.J., Morookian, J.-M., Young, S.M.M., Quinn, R., Grunthaner, P., Wen, X., Weilert, M., Cable, C.A., Fisher, A., Gospodinova, K., Kapit, J., Stroble, S., Hsu, P.-C., Clark, B.C., Ming, D.W. and Smith, P.H. The MECA wet chemistry laboratory on the 2007 phoenix mars scout Lander. Journal of Geophysical Research. 2009, Mar; 114(E3): 10.1029/2008je003084.

-Poster Presentation:
2011 Harvard Psychiatry Mysell Poster Session; Boston, MA
Hsu, P.C., Rathi, Y., Eckbo, R., Nestor, P., Niznikiewicz, M., Thompson, E., Kubicki, M., Shenton, M.E. (March, 2011). Two-Tensor Diffusion Tensor Imaging of Acoustic Radiations in Schizophrenia

Dr. Nicolette Natale

Nicolette Natale

Dr. Nicolette Natale is a physician, with a background in Psychology, General Medicine, and English Literature, combining her expertise to provide readers with the most accurate, easy-to-understand, and comprehensive information regarding healthcare. She received her Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University, and her bachelor’s in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Miami. Dr. Natale seeks to empower individuals with knowledge, fostering a greater understanding of holistic health and encouraging a proactive approach to well-being