Turmeric: Contraindications and Precautions. Patient Counselling

Turmeric is contraindicated in bile duct obstruction and high doses are probably best avoided in males and females wanting to conceive.

Curcumin is also contraindicated in breast cancer patients treated with cyclophosphamide until the significance of an in vivo model of breast cancer, which found that curcumin reduced the tumour regression effects of chemotherapy, is clarified.

Due to antiplatelet activity and possible increased risk of bleeding, use of concentrated extracts should be suspended 1 week prior to major surgery; however, usual dietary intakes are likely to be safe.

Pregnancy and Lactation Use

When used as a spice this herb is most likely to be safe; however, the safety of therapeutic doses has not been established. Turmeric has been demonstrated not to be mutagenic in vitro or to be teratrogenic in mice. Constituents and/or metabolites of turmeric and curcumin were transferred to suckling pups, but no ill effect on the offspring was reported.

Practice Points / Patient Counselling

• In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is used to strengthen the overall energy of the body, relieve gas, dispel worms, improve digestion, regulate menstruation, dissolve gallstones, relieve arthritis and purify the blood.

• In TCM, turmeric is used for bruises, sores, ringworm, chest pain, toothache and jaundice. Turmeric was also recommended for abdominal pain, mass formation in the abdomen and amenorrhoea.

• Turmeric is commonly used in foods and is likely to be a safe and healthy addition to the diet.

• Turmeric has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic activity; however, further clinical evidence is needed before it can be recommended to treat specific conditions.

• Clinical evidence suggests that turmeric may provide benefit for people with dyspepsia, peptic ulcer, hyperlipidaemia, and arthritis and there is emerging evidence to suggest that turmeric may help prevent a number of cancers as well as being useful as an adjuvant in cancer treatment.