Perhaps you've heard of turmeric, a spice used for cooking and as a medicinal herb. And maybe you've even taken it yourself for its natural anti-inflammatory powers to treat things like pain, IBS, and other inflammatory conditions. But even though the spice can help calm inflammation, can you have too much of a good thing?
Whether you're trying a turmeric supplement for the first time or want to know if you're consuming the right amount of the spice, read on to learn what the experts have to say about how much turmeric you should take.
Meet the Expert
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice that comes from the Curcuma longa plant's root, which is a part of the ginger family. It’s been used for cooking and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It’s made up in part of a compound called curcumin, says Ilene S. Ruhoy, an antioxidant that provides most of the healing effects of turmeric.
And what are those effects, exactly? Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory abilities, says Patel. While some inflammation is good for your body, chronic inflammation can contribute to developing disease. Curcumin fights it by blocking a molecule that encourages inflammation—so much so that research has shown it can be as effective as anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and can help ease symptoms of inflammatory conditions like arthritis and IBS, says Ruhoy. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize molecules in your body called free radicals, she adds, which can contribute to aging and developing certain diseases. Translation? Turmeric could help protect against conditions like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s down the line.
Those anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are also great for your skin, adds Ruhoy. It can help heal skin problems like wounds, acne, and eczema, and fight aging. And the benefits don't stop there: Turmeric may also be as good for your brain as it is for your body. Research shows that curcumin can increase your levels of a hormone called a brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Low levels of this hormone are linked to depression and Alzheimer’s, so turmeric may help keep your brain function strong.
Though turmeric in your cooking is likely too low a dose to produce any noticeable effects, taking a supplement with a high concentration of curcumin can help you reap all these benefits. Try it in pill, liquid, or powder form—no matter your preference, turmeric is a simple and natural way to help your body function well.
Is Turmeric Safe?
Short answer? Yes, says Ruhoy. Turmeric is a naturally occurring ingredient and is widely considered safe to take regularly, especially at doses around 500 mg. Certain mild side effects may occur if you take the supplement in high doses (think 1,000 mg or more, though some people can tolerate higher doses without side effects), like upset stomach, light digestive issues, or itchiness, says Patel.
And pick your supplement wisely, cautions Ruhoy. Curcumin can be hard for your body to absorb naturally, but supplements with a component of black pepper called piperine can help. Some can contain other ingredients like food colorants or wheat-based fillers that might be responsible for side effects, so if you notice your daily dose of turmeric is making you feel funky, you might be better off taking a supplement that's pure spice.
How Much Turmeric Is Too Much?
Turmeric is generally safe to consume, so the best guideline for how much is too much is whatever your body tells you, says Patel. As a baseline, Ruhoy recommends about 500 mg per dose, once or twice daily. But if you notice that dosage upsets your stomach or irritates your skin, Patel recommends lowering the amount of turmeric you take.
And if you have a condition that puts you at risk for bleeding, you may want to hold off, cautions Ruhoy. Turmeric has been shown to have some blood-thinning effects, so consult with your doctor before trying a supplement if this is a concern.
If you're interested in trying turmeric or already love the stuff for cooking or medicinal purposes, rest assured that turmeric is widely considered a safe ingredient. Regularly taking it in individual doses of 500 mg or less can help ease inflammation, reduce pain, and prevent disease. That said, consult with your doctor before trying it if you have a bleeding condition or if it has given you side effects in the past, and be sure to select a supplement that's pure turmeric (or curcumin and piperine) to avoid symptoms from unnecessary fillers. The bottom line? There are tons of benefits to reap from taking turmeric but listen to your body to determine if you're overdoing it.