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Iris asked...

I have been reading a lot about Turmeric...

I have been reading a lot about Turmeric and its health giving properties in arthritis etc.can you advise a product which is available to buy. I understand Turmeric needs something to help absorption such as black pepper, but I can't find a combined product just Turmeric capsules or pills. Many thanks.

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The answer

Thanks for contacting Health at Hand. Turmeric is being recognized these days more for its medicinal values and properties.

We thought you would like an overview of its benefits so we have provided the information below and hope that it will help you.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is a dried rhizome of Curcuma longa (C. domestica) also known as Zingiberaceae. A rhizome is a plant stem that grows horizontally underground as oppose to vertically above ground. It can produce shoots and roots. This rhizome looks very similar to root ginger.

Turmeric is widely available as fine yellow powder and used worldwide as a spice, mainly in curries. As medicine it has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine but in the early 1970s modern medicine started to look at it more closely because it was suggested that curcumin has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

What are the active constituents?

The active constituents of turmeric are curcuminoids. Curcumin is one of the three curcuminoids in turmeric spice that gives turmeric the distinctive bright yellow colour.

Does turmeric help in arthritis?

Curcumin modifies the inflammation process and has been shown to be as effective as hydrocortisone at reducing the swelling in one study. It may interfere with the platelet activity so may prevent clots such as DVT.

What other conditions can it help?

Due to its anti-inflammatory anti-oxidative properties it has been proposed to be beneficial in cardiovascular disease, ulcerative colitis, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual pain, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids and Alzheimers.

Turmeric is thought to help protect the liver, prevent cancer, prevent cancer progressing but research in this matter is still in its infancy.

Where's the evidence?

The following web links provide useful data:

Pharmacological basis for the role of curcumin in chronic disease: an age-old spice with modern targets

The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer's disease: An overview

Oral Supplementation of turmeric attenuates, proteinuria, transforming growth factor-Beta abd interlukin-8 levels in patients with overt type 2 diabetic nephropathy:A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study - Parviz Khajehdehi, Maryam Pakfetrat, Katayoun Javidnia, Fariborz Azad, Leila Malekmakan, Mahshid Hashemi

How do I take turmeric?

Turmeric can be used as a powder or root in cooking. It is versatile as a spice so it can be added to many foods such as curries and sauces. As a powder it can be safely used up to 3g daily.

Some people prefer to use it as turmeric as a milky drink.

It is available on the market through various sources as a supplement in the form of a capsule. You need to be careful of the dose when you are taking any herbal medicine and this includes turmeric capsules.

In the UK there are no official standards regulating herbal medicines. The dosage of herbal medicines depends a great deal on a variety of factors. These include growing and harvesting conditions, the extraction method used and the part of the plant that is used and the dose the manufacture selects. This is why dose stated on the packaging must be taken as guidelines only.

The advantage of using turmeric as part of your diet is that it is difficult to overdose whereas when you are taking a supplement you are taking a concentrated amount so there is a greater risk of overdose.

Does black pepper increase the absorption of turmeric?

There are several studies available that support the fact that black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric.

Absorption of curcumin can be boosted by eating the turmeric root (fresh or dried as a powder) because natural oils found in turmeric root and turmeric powder can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin.

Where's the evidence?

The web links below provide some evidence based studies that support the fact that black pepper enhances the absorption of turmeric in the body.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4093167/

https://www.healthspan.co.uk/turmeric-benefits

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4093167/

Is too much turmeric bad for you?

Turmeric is soluble in fats so it is often mixed with coconut oil. There is some evidence that curcumin can be toxic to the liver when taken in high doses for prolonged periods of time so turmeric should be avoided in those with liver disease.

What if I am taking other medicines? Can I still take Turmeric supplement?

If you are taking any anti-coagulants such as Warfarin, Dabigatrin, Rivaroxaban, Apixaban or Endoxaban you should avoid taking turmeric supplements because there is a greater risk of bleeding. If you are taking any antiplatelet medications such as disopyramide then again your chances of having an internal bleed is increased so you should avoid taking Turmeric supplements.

If you are on other medications and you would like to take Turmeric supplements then please speak to your local pharmacist or doctor to check that your medicines are compatible with taking a turmeric supplement.

Can you buy turmeric and black pepper capsules as a combined preparation?

You can buy capsules that have a combination of black pepper and turmeric in the one capsule. You would need to buy it from a reputable source.

Holland & Barrett

Health Span

Solgar

Arthritis

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like further information.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses