Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family. Its stalk, a common curry spice, has been used to ease swelling. It has also been used for arthritis and health problems with the stomach and liver. It can be taken as a pill, tea, or extract.
1 to 2 grams per day
What Research Shows
- Osteoarthritis —likely to ease swelling and pain, especially when taken with boswellic acid U1-U11
May Be Effective
- Allergic rhinitis —may improve nasal air flow A1
- Chronic kidney disease —may ease itching D1
- Cognitive function —may slow cognitive decline E1, E2
- Crohn Disease —may ease symptoms F1
- Depression —may ease symptoms G1-G7
- Diabetes —may improve glycemic control and lower cholesterol; may prevent type 2 diabetes in people with pre-diabetes H1, H2
- Heart attack —may lower the risk in people who have had coronary artery bypass grafting I1
- High Cholesterol —may lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol when used with phytosterol therapy J1
- Human papillomavirus infection —may clear cervical HPV infection K1
- Impaired glucose tolerance —may improve glycemic control L1
- Inflammatory bowel disease —may help maintain remission M1, M2
- Irritable bowel syndrome —may ease symptoms and improve quality of life O1
- Metabolic syndrome —may lower cholesterol and promote weight loss P1, P2
- Molar removal —may ease inflammation and pain Q1
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease —may improve liver fat R1-R5
- Oral leukoplakia —may ease symptoms T1
- Painful conditions —may ease pain V1
- Premenstrual syndrome —may ease symptoms X1
- Sulfur mustard intoxication —may ease inflammation AA1
May Not Be Effective
- Ulcerative colitis —may not bring about remission BB1-BB4
Not Enough Data to Assess
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Turmeric is likely safe when limited amounts are taken for a short time. It may cause headaches, diarrhea, and rash in some people. Not enough studies have been done to say whether they are safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:
- People with bone disorders should talk to their doctors before taking turmeric. It may interact with their medicines.
A. Allergic Rhinitis
A1. Wu S, Xiao D. Effect of curcumin on nasal symptoms and airflow in patients with perennial allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016 Dec;117(6):697-702.e1.
B. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
B1. Ahmadi M, Agah E, et al. Safety and Efficacy of Nanocurcumin as Add-On Therapy to Riluzole in Patients With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial. Neurotherapeutics. 2018 Apr;15(2):430-438.
C. Cancer Treatment Support
C1. Ryan JL, Heckler CE, et al. Curcumin for radiation dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of thirty breast cancer patients. Radiat Res. 2013 Jul;180(1):34-43.
C2. Palatty PL, Azmidah A, et al. Topical application of a sandal wood oil and turmeric based cream prevents radiodermatitis in head and neck cancer patients undergoing external beam radiotherapy: a pilot study. Br J Radiol. 2014 Jun;87(1038):20130490.
D. Chronic Kidney Disease
D1. Pakfetrat M, Basiri F, et al. Effects of turmeric on uremic pruritus in end stage renal disease patients: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. J Nephrol. 2014 Apr;27(2):203-207.
E. Cognitive Function
E1. Rainey-Smith SR, Brown BM, et al. Curcumin and cognition: a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of community-dwelling older adults. Br J Nutr. 2016 Jun;115(12):2106-2113.
E2. Small GW, Siddarth P, et al. Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2018 Mar;26(3):266-277.
F. Crohn Disease
F1. Schneider A, Hossain I, et al. Comparison of remicade to curcumin for the treatment of Crohn's disease: A systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2017 Aug;33:32-38.
G1. Lopresti AL, Maes M, et al. Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2014;167:368-375.
G2. Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-585.
G3. Esmaily H, Sahebkar A, et al. An investigation of the effects of curcumin on anxiety and depression in obese individuals: A randomized controlled trial. Chin J Integr Med. 2015 May;21(5):332-338.
G4. Yu JJ, Pei LB, et al. Chronic Supplementation of Curcumin Enhances the Efficacy of Antidepressants in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2015 Aug;35(4):406-410.
G5. Al-Karawi D, Al Mamoori DA, et al. The Role of Curcumin Administration in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: Mini Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Phytother Res. 2016 Feb;30(2):175-183.
G6. Lopresti AL, Drummond PD. Efficacy of curcumin, and a saffron/curcumin combination for the treatment of major depression: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2017 Jan 1;207:188-196.
G7. Ng QX, Koh SSH, et al. Clinical Use of Curcumin in Depression: A Meta-Analysis. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2017 Jun 1;18(6):503-508.
H1. Chuengsamarn S, Rattanamongkolgul S, et al. Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2012 Nov;35(11):2121-2127.
H2. Panahi Y, Khalili N, et al. Effects of Curcuminoids Plus Piperine on Glycemic, Hepatic and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial. Drug Res (Stuttg). 2018 Jul;68(7):403-409.
I. Heart Attack
I1. Wongcharoen W, Jai-Aue S, et al. Effects of curcuminoids on frequency of acute myocardial infarction after coronary artery bypass grafting. Am J Cardiol. 2012 Jul 1;110(1):40-44.
J. High Cholesterol
J1. Ferguson JJA, Stojanovski E, et al. Curcumin potentiates cholesterol-lowering effects of phytosterols in hypercholesterolaemic individuals. A randomised controlled trial. Metabolism. 2018 May;82:22-35.
K. Human Papillomavirus Infection
K1. Basu P, Dutta S, et al. Clearance of cervical human papillomavirus infection by topical application of curcumin and curcumin containing polyherbal cream: a phase II randomized controlled study. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(10):5753-5759.
L. Impaired Glucose Tolerance
L1. Demmers A, Korthout H, et al. Effects of medicinal food plants on impaired glucose tolerance: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2017 Sep;131:91-106.
M. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
M1. Ng SC, Lam YT, et al. Systematic review: the efficacy of herbal therapy in inflammatory bowel disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Oct;38(8):854-863.
M2. Langhorst J, Wulfert H, et al. Systematic review of complementary and alternative medicine treatments in inflammatory bowel diseases. J Crohns Colitis. 2015 Jan;9(1):86-106.
N. Intestinal Adenoma
N1. Cruz-Correa M, Hylind LM, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Treatment of Intestinal Adenomas in Patients With Familial Adenomatous Polyposis. Gastroenterology. 2018 Sep;155(3):668-673.
O. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
O1. Portincasa P, Bonfrate L, et al. Curcumin and Fennel Essential Oil Improve Symptoms and Quality of Life in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2016 Jun;25(2):151-157.
P. Metabolic Syndrome
P1. Yang YS, Su YF, et al. Lipid-lowering effects of curcumin in patients with metabolic syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Dec;28(12):1770-1777.
P2. Di Pierro F, Bressan A, et al. Potential role of bioavailable curcumin in weight loss and omental adipose tissue decrease: preliminary data of a randomized, controlled trial in overweight people with metabolic syndrome. Preliminary study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015 Nov;19(21):4195-4202.
Q. Molar Removal
Q1. Maulina T, Diana H, et al. The efficacy of curcumin in managing acute inflammation pain on the post-surgical removal of impacted third molars patients: A randomised controlled trial. J Oral Rehabil. 2018 Sep;45(9):677-683.
R. Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
R1. Panahi Y, Kianpour P, et al. Curcumin Lowers Serum Lipids and Uric Acid in Subjects With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2016 Sep;68(3):223-229.
R2. Rahmani S, Asgary S, et al. Treatment of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease with Curcumin: A Randomized Placebo-controlled Trial. Phytother Res. 2016 Sep;30(9):1540-1548.
R3. Hewling, S, Kalman, D. Curcumin: A review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017;6(10):92.
R4. Panahi Y, Kianpour P, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Phytosomal Curcumin in Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Randomized Control Trial. Drug Res (Stuttg). 2017;67(4):244-251.
R5. Navekar R, Rafraf M, et al. Turmeric Supplementation Improves Serum Glucose Indices and Leptin Levels in Patients with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017 May-Jun;36(4):261-267.
S1. Mohammadi A, Sahebkar A, et al. Effects of supplementation with curcuminoids on dyslipidemia in obese patients: a randomized crossover trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):374-379.
T. Oral Leukoplakia
T1. Kuriakose MA, Ramdas K, et al. A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Phase IIB Trial of Curcumin in Oral Leukoplakia. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2016 Aug;9(8):683-691.
U1. Kaptniratsaikul V, Thanakhumpyorn S, et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15(8):898-907.
U2. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, et al. Efficacy and safety of Meriva, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern Med Rev. 2010;15(4):227-244.
U3. Madhu K, Chanda K, et al. Safety and efficacy of Curcuma longa extract in the treatment of painful knee osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Inflammopharmacology. 2013 Apr;21(2):129-136.
U4. Nakagawa Y, Mukai S, et al. Short-term effects of highly-bioavailable curcumin for treating knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled prospective study. J Orthop Sci. 2014 Nov;19(6):933-939.
U5. Panahi Y, Rahimnia AR, et al. Curcuminoid treatment for knee osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Nov;28(11):1625-1631.
U6. Daily JW, Yang M, et al. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. J Med Food. 2016 Aug;19(8):717-729.
U7. Onakpoya IJ, Spencer EA, et al. Effectiveness of curcuminoids in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Int J Rheum Dis. 2017 Apr;20(4):420-433.
U8. Del Grossi Moura M, Lopes LC, et al. Oral herbal medicines marketed in Brazil for the treatment of osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytother Res. 2017 Nov;31(11):1676-1685.
U9. Haroyan A, Mukuchyan V, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin and its combination with boswellic acid in osteoarthritis: a comparative, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 Jan 9;18(1):7.
U10. Liu X, Machado GC, et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Feb;52(3):167-175.
U11. Bannuru RR, Osani MC, et al. Efficacy of curcumin and Boswellia for knee osteoarthritis: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2018 Dec;48(3):416-429.
V. Painful Conditions
V1. Sahebkar A, Henrotin Y. Analgesic Efficacy and Safety of Curcuminoids in Clinical Practice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Pain Med. 2016 Jun;17(6):1192-1202.
W. Pancreatic Cancer
W1. Pastorelli D, Fabricio ASC, et al. Phytosome complex of curcumin as complementary therapy of advanced pancreatic cancer improves safety and efficacy of gemcitabine: Results of a prospective phase II trial. Pharmacol Res. 2018 Jun;132:72-79.
X. Premenstrual Syndrome
X1. Khayat S, Fanaei H, et al. Curcumin attenuates severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2015 Jun;23(3):318-324.
Y1. Bahraini P, Rajabi M, et al. Turmeric tonic as a treatment in scalp psoriasis: A randomized placebo-control clinical trial. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Jun;17(3):461-466.
Z. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Z1. Amalraj A, Varma K, et al. A Novel Highly Bioavailable Curcumin Formulation Improves Symptoms and Diagnostic Indicators in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Two-Dose, Three-Arm, and Parallel-Group Study. J Med Food. 2017 Oct;20(10):1022-1030.
AA. Sulfur Mustard Intoxication
AA1. Panahi Y, Ghanei M, et al. Short-term Curcuminoid Supplementation for Chronic Pulmonary Complications due to Sulfur Mustard Intoxication: Positive Results of a Randomized Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial. Drug Res (Stuttg). 2015 Nov;65(11):567-573.
BB. Ulcerative Colitis
BB1. Hanai, H, Lida T, Takeuchi K, et al. Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis: randomized, multicenter, double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Clin Gastroentreol Hepatol. 2006;4(12):1502-6.
BB2. Kumar S, Ahuja V, et al. Curcumin for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD008424.
BB3. Lang A, Salomon N, et al. Curcumin in Combination With Mesalamine Induces Remission in Patients With Mild-to-Moderate Ulcerative Colitis in a Randomized Controlled Trial. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Aug;13(8):1444-9.e1.
BB4. Grammatikopoulou MG, Gkiouras K, et al. Oral Adjuvant Curcumin Therapy for Attaining Clinical Remission in Ulcerative Colitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2018 Nov 12;10(11). pii: E1737.
Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC Last Updated: 3/27/2020