Turmeric has been in the media a lot lately as one of the latest health trends. Kate our Clinical Pharmacist is talking about the origins in health, how it's absorbed and those that it's not good for.
The bright yellow spice more often thought of as being in a curry is making an impact on the health scene lately. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Asian medicinal therapies for centuries, either as an external paste or taken orally. For anything from scabies, menstrual disorders and arthritic pain to bladder, kidney and stomach problems. However, more recently turmeric has made an appearance on the health scene in lattes, juices and nut milks.
The pharmacological actions of turmeric are due to the main active ingredient, curcumin. Turmeric is made up of 3-5% curcuminoids. These cause the yellow-orange pigment, of which curcumin is the most biologically active (able to be absorbed by our bodies).
Turmeric contains approximately 2 percent curcumin by weight, so a teaspoon of turmeric powder contains approximately 100mg curcumin.
Although curcumin has shown efficacy against numerous human ailments, your body cannot absorb it effectively enough from turmeric powder. So, if you are thinking of taking turmeric for any of the health benefits listed above perhaps you may prefer a supplement. Supplements allow your body to absorb more curcumin than if you just take turmeric powder. Various formulations are available, and some help to increase the amount we absorb.
Who cannot take turmeric?
Curcumin affects the absorption of beta-blockers (ask your Remadee Pharmacist if you think this may be you), and can increase the absorption of midazolam. The potential for interaction with other medicines administered at the same time, particularly those with similar or opposing effects should also be considered.
People who have obstruction of the bile duct, cholangitis, liver disease, gallstones and any other biliary disease should not take turmeric. It is also not recommended in children or adolescents.
If you're wanting a Turmeric supplement but are unsure if it's right for you, please ask your Remadee Pharmacist.
Pregnancy and lactation
Due to a lack of data, the use of turmeric during pregnancy and lactation has been advised to be avoided. However anecdotal evidence suggests it has been used in traditional medicine to increase milk supply in breastfeeding.