This fact sheet provides basic information about the herb. A plant or part of a plant used for its flavor, scent, or potential therapeutic properties. Includes flowers, leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, stems, and roots. turmeric—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information. Turmeric, a shrub related to ginger, is grown throughout India, other parts of Asia, and Africa. Known for its warm, bitter taste and golden color, turmeric is commonly used in fabric dyes and foods such as curry powders, mustards, and cheeses. It should not be confused with Javanese turmeric.
Common Names—turmeric, turmeric root, Indian saffron Latin Names—Curcuma longa
What It Is Used For
- In traditional Chinese medicineA whole medical system that originated in China. It is based on the concept that disease results from disruption in the flow of qi and imbalance in the forces of yin and yang. Practices such as herbs, meditation, massage, and acupuncture seek to aid healing by restoring the yin-yang balance and the flow of qi. and Ayurvedic medicineA whole medical system that originated in India. It aims to integrate the body, mind, and spirit to prevent and treat disease. Therapies used include herbs, massage, and yoga., turmeric has been used to aid digestion and liver function, relieve arthritis pain, and regulate menstruation.
- Turmeric has also been applied directly to the skin for eczema and wound healing.
- Today, turmeric is used for conditions such as heartburn, stomach ulcers, and gallstones. It is also used to reduce inflammation, as well as to prevent and treat cancer.
How It Is Used Turmeric's finger-like underground stems (rhizomes) are dried and taken by mouth as a powder or in capsules, teas, or liquid extracts. Turmeric can also be made into a paste and used on the skin.
What the Science Says
- There is little reliable evidence to support the use of turmeric for any health condition because few clinical trials have been conducted.
- Preliminary findings from animal and laboratory studies suggest that a chemical found in turmeric—called curcumin—may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, but these findings have not been confirmed in people.
- NCCAM-funded investigators are studying the active chemicals in turmeric and their effects—particularly anti-inflammatory effects—in people to better understand how turmeric might be used for health purposes.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Turmeric is considered safe for most adults.
- High doses or long-term use of turmeric may cause indigestion.
- In animals, high doses of turmeric have caused liver problems. No cases of liver problems have been reported in people.
- People with gallbladder disease should avoid using turmeric as a dietary supplementA product that contains vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and/or other ingredients intended to supplement the diet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has special labeling requirements for dietary supplements., as it may worsen the condition.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
- Turmeric. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on December 27, 2006.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn.) and curcumin. Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on December 28, 2006.
- Turmeric root. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:379–384.
For More Information
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
CAM on PubMed®
Web site: nccam.nih.gov/camonpubmed/
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: ods.od.nih.gov
NIH National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus
Turmeric Listing: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-turmeric.html
This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.
NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.
NCCAM Publication No. D367
Created March 2007
Updated June 2008