How Much Do We Know?
- Much research has been done on substances from turmeric, but their health effects remain uncertain.
What Have We Learned?
- Turmeric and curcumin have a variety of interesting biological activities, but they’re challenging to study because curcumin is unstable (it easily changes into other substances) and has low bioavailability (not much of it reaches the bloodstream) when it’s taken orally. In addition, curcumin products may differ in composition or contain more substances than expected, which makes the results of research on these products difficult to understand and compare. Because the actions of turmeric and its components in people are complex and not well understood, no clear conclusions have been reached about whether these substances have benefits for health conditions.
- NCCIH is funding research to determine whether and how curcuminoids may be converted in bone tissue into substances that may have effects on bone diseases.
- Turmeric and conventionally formulated curcumin products are probably safe when taken orally or applied to the skin in the recommended amounts.
- Efforts have been made to develop curcumin products with increased bioavailability, and many modified products are already on the market. Improving bioavailability might lead to increases in harmful effects as well as desirable ones.
- Turmeric may be unsafe for use during pregnancy in amounts greater than those commonly found in food. Little is known about whether it’s safe to use turmeric in amounts greater than those commonly found in food while breastfeeding.
The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, 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.
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Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset.
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