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Turmeric (or curcumin) is a flowering plant in the ginger family. It has grown in popularity for the treatment of many inflammatory related diseases including arthritis, diabetes and heart disease(1,2). Turmeric has long been used in Chinese and Southeast Asian medicine but is growing in popularity in Western countries, including the United States (2). Current research indicates that it has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects. See my post on antioxidants and free radicals to learn more about this. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties are a result of COX-2, LOX, and iNOS inhibition (see my post on inflammation to learn more) (4).



What can Turmeric help to treat?

The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects mean that Turmeric/Curcumin can help to treat conditions related to (1,2):

·       High blood sugar (diabetes)

·       High cholesterol (heart disease)

·       Inflammation (including arthritis)

·       Insulin signaling (diabetes, PCOS, insulin resistance)

·       Gut permeability (proper digestion of foods)

·       Immunity


What is the proper dosage?

Many different dosages have been studied. However, 1g p/day seems to be an effective and safe dosage to potentially decrease weight, LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, HbA1C (average blood glucose levels over 3 months), fasting glucose, liver fat, and inflammatory markers while potentially increasing HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol), adiponectin (hormone regulating glucose levels, lipid/fat metabolism, and insulin sensitivity), mood, and memory (2,3). 


What to look for in supplements.

Bioavailability (meaning your body’s ability to absorb and use the herb) of turmeric (curcumin) supplements increases when it is combined with an adjuvant, bio-conjugate, lipid, nanoparticle, or protein (2). What does that mean? Look for a turmeric supplement combined with piperine (an adjuvant extract from black pepper) as it has been shown to increase curcumin bioavailability by up to 2000 times (2). 


What lab results would suggest supplementing with Turmeric? 

I would recommend this for people with the following lab results (2,4) :

·       Inflammatory biomarkers (including high c-reactive protein)

·       High cholesterol (including LDL >130 mg/dL and TG >150 mg/dL)

·       High or borderline high HbA1C (anything above 5% could benefit)

·       High uric acid levels (>7.2 mg/dL)

·       High LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) levels (>233 U/L) 


Safety of Turmeric and use in conjunction with pharmaceutical drugs.

Turmeric (Curcumin) is generally recognized as safe according to the U.S. food and drug administration (5). It is usually tolerated as both a food additive or in higher quantities as a supplement but has been linked with gastrointestinal disturbances including nausea and diarrhea (5). Dermatitis (skin rash) has also been reported with the direct use of curcumin on the skin (5). It is not recommended for use in breastfeeding women and has been known to suppress or shorten lactation in Southeast Asian medicine (5). Curcumin has blood thinning properties and should be avoided in combination with blood thinning medications such as Coumadin and Aspirin (5).

Curcumin has also been effective in lowering glucose levels (6,7). Caution should be used in the treatment of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) with curcumin and glucose lowering medications, such as Metformin, to prevent the occurrence of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) (6,7). However, research suggests improved treatment of diabetes when using curcumin and metformin together (6,7). Not only does this combination effectively lower glucose levels but was also effective in lowering hyperlipidemia (cholesterol) levels (6,7). Additionally, the use of curcumin and metformin together has been shown as a possible treatment for cancer when used alone or in conjunction with other ant-cancer medications, although further research is needed (8,9).

Curcumin may also lesson unwanted muscle symptoms associated with statin medication use (10,11). Research looking at rats found that co-administration of atorvastatin and curcumin lowered the myotoxicity (muscle pain) effects resulting from atorvastatin alone (10). Overall curcumin appears to be beneficial for the treatment of many non-communicable diseases and, maybe unsurprisingly, can have a variety of positive and negative interactions with drug therapies.


Turmeric is safe for most people (unless breastfeeding) and in most situations. It can help to lower inflammation and decrease free radicals through its antioxidant properties. This power combination can help to treat high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, PCOS, and other diseases that are related to inflammation. Like with the use of any therapeutic herb, the addition of Turmeric or the replacement/discontinuation of treatment should be discussed with a health care professional prior to implementation.  An effective therapeutic dosage of Turmeric is 1g per day and look for a supplement that includes piperine for best absorption and available use in the body. Overall the effectiveness and safety of this herb makes it a top choice for people suffering from any form of inflammation including more severe diseases like diabetes, heart disease or arthritis.


  1. 1. Kim Y, Clifton P. Curcumin, Cardiometabolic Health and Dementia. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(10):2093. Published 2018 Sep 24. doi:10.3390/ijerph15102093

  2. Harvey F, Lloyd J. Curcuma.-turmeric.: Kings American Dispensary. Henriette's Herbal Homepage. Published 2021. Accessed February 19, 2022.

  3. Pivari F, Mingione A, Brasacchio C, Soldati L. Curcumin and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Prevention and Treatment. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1837. Published 2019 Aug 8. doi:10.3390/nu11081837

  4. Menon VP, Sudheer AR. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:105-125. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5_3

  5. Turmeric. In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); October 18, 2021.

  6. Abdelsamia EM, Khaleel SA, Balah A, Abdel Baky NA. Curcumin augments the cardioprotective effect of metformin in an experimental model of type I diabetes mellitus; Impact of Nrf2/HO-1 and JAK/STAT pathways. Biomed Pharmacother. 2019;109:2136-2144. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2018.11.064

  7. Roxo DF, Arcaro CA, Gutierres VO, et al. Curcumin combined with metformin decreases glycemia and dyslipidemia, and increases paraoxonase activity in diabetic rats. Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2019;11:33. Published 2019 Apr 30. doi:10.1186/s13098-019-0431-0

  8. Zarei E, Sefidi-Heris Y, Saadat I. Synergistic effects of metformin and curcumin on cytotoxicity of chemotherapy drugs using a gastric cancer cell line model. EXCLI J. 2021;20:1488-1498. Published 2021 Oct 11. doi:10.17179/excli2021-4091

  9. Falah RR, Talib WH, Shbailat SJ. Combination of metformin and curcumin targets breast cancer in mice by angiogenesis inhibition, immune system modulation and induction of p53 independent apoptosis. Ther Adv Med Oncol. 2017;9(4):235-252. doi:10.1177/1758834016687482

  10. Elshama SS, El-Kenawy AE, Osman HH. Curcumin improves atorvastatin-induced myotoxicity in rats: Histopathological and biochemical evidence. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2016;29(4):742-752. doi:10.1177/0394632016656186

  11. Sahebkar A, Saboni N, Pirro M, Banach M. Curcumin: An effective adjunct in patients with statin-associated muscle symptoms?. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2017;8(1):19-24. doi:10.1002/jcsm.12140

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