Top 9 Side Effects Of Turmeric & Curcumin Supplements

Top 9 Side Effects Of Turmeric & Curcumin Supplements

It’s already clear that turmeric brings a lot of benefits to our body. But is it all positive? Can’t it cause any harm, even in higher doses?

Today it’s time to take a look at the negative side – because there is one.

So what are the side effects of turmeric & curcumin supplements?

  • How can they hurt you, and it what doses?
  • And most importantly, are they really so harmless?
  • Or they’re rather a blessing in disguise?

It’s time to dig deep into the facts and find out the truth about turmeric and curcumin supplements.



1. Digestive Problems

Top 9 Side Effects Of Turmeric & Curcumin SupplementsTurmeric and curcumin are known for their gastroprotective effects.

Many patients take these herbs in order to protect their stomach from the effects of painkillers or NSAIDs.

  • So how can they produce digestive problems as a side effect?
  • Why are they said to protect the stomach if they don’t?

The reason why: Well, here is the explanation.

Turmeric and curcumin supplements don’t affect the stomach – but they can worsen an affection called gastroesophageal reflux disease.

This condition doesn’t affect the stomach itself, but rather the esophagus.

And though it usually doesn’t have a pathological cause, it can be very annoying.

So turmeric and curcumin don’t produce any damage the stomach. After all, they are meant to protect it.

But if gastroesophageal reflux condition is already present – these supplements may worsen it.



2. Kidney Stones

The title may be a bit deceiving here. Turmeric and curcumin don’t cause kidney stones themselves, that would be absurd.

But they can increase the risk – especially in a person who had this problem in the past.

The reason why: Turmeric contains a substance called oxalate.

Once this oxalate gets inside our body, it binds to calcium molecules and they form calcium oxalates. If you ever had kidney stones, you know this name so well.

Calcium oxalates are usually the structures that produce kidney stones:

  • They are harder to eliminate
  • So they tend to accumulate in our kidneys
  • That’s how they form the so-called “stones”

Now, don’t imagine that consuming turmeric or taking it as supplements will give you kidney stones. As I said before, it can only increase the risk.

And unless you have had problems in the past or you know you’re inclined to kindey affections, you shouldn’t worry too much.



3. Nausea

Top 9 Side Effects Of Turmeric & Curcumin SupplementsNot everyone tolerates every single drug, you probably know that.

In fact, nausea is one of the most common side effects of drugs in general – and turmeric supplements make no exception.

The reason why: In some cases, this herb can produce mild nausea and diarheea.

I said before that turmeric can aggravate a gastroesophageal reflux disease.

This happens because turmeric tends to irritate the esophagus and part of the stomach. That’s why nausea appears as well.

But don’t get too scared. Nausea from turmeric usually appears if you take:

  • high doses (over 4 grams per day)
  • for at least a few months 

So if you’ve been taking your herbal supplement for a while and you start getting nausea, don’t panic.

It may be just because of the pills, so stop the treatment for a few days and see how you’re feeling.



4. Allergies

You see this side effect on almost every drug’s label.

But in reality – there are quite a few people who really develop allergy as a side effect. However, it also exists in turmeric’s field.

The reason why: Allergic reactions usually come as:

  • an urticaria
  • a dermatitis

Now – these are both pretty minor affections. Rashes aren’t very common, or at least there weren’t many cases reported.

What’s interesting is that there is a certain category of people allergic to turmeric supplements: 

  • the ones allergic to ginger
  • or allergic to yellow food coloring

Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric, so the connection makes sense.

Therefore, if you know your body doesn’t tolerate these things very well – it’s better to stay away from turmeric. It may not cause you any harm, but it’s better to stay safe.



5. Bleeding Problems

Top 9 Side Effects Of Turmeric & Curcumin SupplementsTurmeric and curcumin have never been friends with blood thinning drugs.

The reason why: In fact, some studies showed that curcumin slows down blood clotting.

At first sight, this may seem very useful – taking turmeric can help with your varicosity.

But surprisingly, turmeric supplements are forbidden together with blood thinning medicines.

On the other hand, if you suffer from bleeding conditions like haemophilia – turmeric and curcumin supplements are also a big no:

  • They decrease blood clotting
  • So they can increase the risks of bleeding

And this is enough to kill someone with a bleeding affection.



6. Iron Deficiency

Top 9 Side Effects Of Turmeric & Curcumin SupplementsIf there’s someone most people don’t know about turmeric – it’s that it can cause a certain level of anemia.

This doesn’t happen everyday, but there were enough cases reported in the past.

Studies showed that the substances from turmeric powder can bind to iron molecules.

Where can we find iron in our bodies? Mostly in the red cells, the ones that carry the oxygen molecules.

The reason why: Once turmeric’s compounds bind to the iron molecules, our body can’t absorb enough iron from the foods we eat.

So that’s how iron deficiency appears. And the immediate consequence of this is anemia, one of the most common problems in these days.

The bad news is that:

  • sometimes it’s so hard to find out what’s causing this anemia

 Who would think that a harmless turmeric supplement can produce such a massive effect?

Probably no one, that’s why it’s so important to let your doctor know about all your medication – even herbal remedies that are apparently harmless.

Iron deficiency caused by turmeric supplements it pretty rare, but it does exist.



7. Gallbladder Problems

Just like they can cause kidney stones, turmeric supplements can also cause gallbladder issues.

The reason why: As I told you before, turmeric powder contains a substance called oxalate.

Once this oxalate binds to calcium molecules, it can produce kindey stones. That’s the classic scenario.

The other possible scenario is not so common – but it can happen if you have a history of gallbladder problems:

  • The calcium oxalates can add up in your gallbladder instead
  • So they cause stones there

 Once again, that’s not something that happens daily, but you have to be aware of this risk if you start taking turmeric supplements.

It’s been scientifically proved that turmeric consumption increases the amount of oxalates from our blood. So make sure you are free of any possible problems before starting a treatment with curcumin and turmeric remedies.



8. Contractions

Though there isn’t any real evidence that it would be harmful – turmeric is forbidden in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

In fact, scientists say that consuming turmeric as a spice during pregnancy is totally harmless.

However, there’s a reason why the supplements aren’t allowed in pregnancy.

The reason why: In a higher dose, turmeric was proved to stimulate uterine contractions.

During pregnancy, this would be extremely dangerous because it would mean risking the baby’s life.

So if you experience joint pain at that time, it’s best to talk to your doctor instead of taking any supplement.

When it comes to breastfeeding – there aren’t many reports or information. Scientists don’t know yet if turmeric would pass through breast milk, and this means it’s better to stay away from it.



9. Headaches

Top 9 Side Effects Of Turmeric & Curcumin SupplementsThis is another very common symptom of most drugs. So surprisingly or not, turmeric is also on the list.

The reason why: Higher doses of turmeric and curcumin can lower the blood pressure. And the first symptoms that indicate a lower blood pressure are:

  • headaches
  • dizziness

Normally, no one would think it’s the herbal supplement behind all this.

But if it’s taken in a higher dose for a longer period (like a few months), turmeric can produce this effect.

However, don’t worry about consuming too much turmeric as a spice.

Even if you’re using it daily, it’s not enough to cause you any side effect, except maybe for a small allergy. It’s only the supplements that can lower the blood pressure or produce any other side effect.



So What Side Effect Have You Experienced?

If you’ve never tried turmeric before and you’re thinking about starting a treatment, I hope this post didn’t scare you too much. This wasn’t the point, that’s for sure.

Don’t worry, you won’t get any side effect overnight or in the first week.

You should take a pretty high dose for a few months to see the side effects. Something above 4 grams per day.

Otherwise, you could at most get a small allergy, but even that is very unlikely.

Turmeric can produce:

  • kidney or gallbladder stones
  • digestive problems
  • nausea

But these are effects that appear very rarely. In fact, it is quite a safe herb, so don’t get discouraged by these possible side effects.

So which of the side effects of turmeric & curcumin supplements have you experienced? Let me know your answer in a comment and I will reach out to you.

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

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22 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Hey. I took curcumin pills when I was young, maybe 10 years ago. My doctor recommended me a certain supplement for general wellness, I can’t tell the name but I remember it was based on curcumin.
    Well, everytime I took it I was feeling really bad for a couple of minutes, I had nausea all the time and I was even vomiting sometimes. Obviously, I gave it up very soon and never wanted to hear about it again.
    I found your blog while looking for joint pain solutions, and that’s how I understood all the story. I had those symptoms because I was taking the pills randomly, sometimes after eating but usually before the meals.

    So do you think that if I took them after eating that nausea wouldn’t come back?

  2. Heather says:

    Hi Mary, you’re totally right. Sometimes doctors don’t tell you when to take the pills, and in some cases it’s not even written on the label. And for curcumin pills, that really makes a difference.
    Curcumin is great for joint pain, so I’m sure it would solve your problems. Try taking the supplement only after you eat consistently and you shouldn’t experience any nausea again.

  3. Kira says:

    Hello. I’m a 32 year old woman with rheumatoid arthritis and I’m 3 months pregnant. My symptoms weren’t very severe before, so I could keep the pain under control with different products.
    Turmeric pills were among my favorites, as they would take away all my pain. I guess I was a pretty lucky RA patient.
    Well, since I discovered I was pregnant I stopped the pills, but obviously the pain came back. From what I read in your post, you don’t recommend taking turmeric during pregnancy because of contractions. What should I take then? I didn’t get an appointment to my rheumatologist yet.

  4. Heather says:

    Hi Kira. Joint pain can appear even in healthy women during preganancy. As you already have RA, it’s quite clear that your pain will come back after quitting the pills.

    As your pregnancy is in the first trimester, it’s extremely important to stay away from any supplement (unless your doctor prescribed it to you). Even turmeric supplements aren’t recommended. It’s not just because of contractions. Your baby’s body develops most in the first 3 months, so any medicine you take randomly is really dangerous for him. So you did very well quitting the pills you were taking.

    I cannot recommend you any alternative supplement, because they are all dangerous in pregnancy. You can either ask your rheumatologist, or your OB, in case you can’t reach the first. They will probably prescribe you a certain medicine, which I can’t.

    Let me know how things go.

  5. Kaylene says:

    Hey Heather, thank you for clarifying things out for me. I’ve been taking turmeric pills for a very long while, to treat the inflammation caused by a leg tendinitis. A few years back, I would work out a lot so I got some tendon problems as a consequence. I heard about turmeric and I’ve been taking it ever since. I saw that it healed my tendons so I kind of do it as a prevention method.

    Do you think that on the long term I could get kidney or gallbladder stones? That’s what worries me the most from that list. I’m taking turmeric pills for about 2 years now, with very little breaks. Do you think I should give it up now? But if I do, won’t my tendon problems come back?

    Thank you and sorry if it’s a silly question.

  6. Heather says:

    Hi Kaylene, it’s not a silly question at all. I’m actually so glad you asked because lots of people may be doing the same thing as you.

    First of all, you should know that tendinitis is a condition that heals alone after a while. All you need to do is to rest. It’s a pretty common cause of joint pain in hands, but fortunately, it goes away on its own. So the fact that you took turmeric may have helped, but it only made it heal faster. Your tendinitis would have healed on its own anyway.

    I don’t advise anyone to take turmeric for years unless they really have to. If you have an auto-immune condition that causes inflammation, then it’s necessary. But otherwise, don’t take it constantly. I’m not sure what you mean by “little breaks”, but in your case, you should have made a 1 month break ever 2 months.

    But anyway, if tendinitis was the only reason why you took turmeric, I really advise you to stop. Tendinitis isn’t likely to come back, unless you exercise too intensively. And if you do, resting is the best treatment. Even so, there are very small chances that you ever get tendinitis again.

    So please give up turmeric as soon as you can, because your kidneys and your gallbladder may get hurt at one point.

  7. Jeanette says:

    I’ve been taking tumeric 1MD for sometime
    The last time I ordered they changed their ingredients it is tumeric x285 with WokVel (boswella serrata) which is supposedly a faster delivery system. Now I’ve been getting daily nausea and dizziness for 3 months. Could it be this supplement? I just had an endoscopy done and have esophagitis.

  8. Heather says:

    Hey Jeanette.

    Did you experience these symptoms right after starting the new version of this supplement? If these 2 periods coincide, your supplement may be the cause. Did you have any nausea while taking the initial turmeric supplement?

    I know that Boswellia can cause certain side effects, so that’s why I’m asking.

    Could you tell me the name of that supplement? That part with Boswellia increasing its the delivery of turmeric is pretty weird to me. I’ve been taking turmeric for years and I never heard that. So maybe I could dig into that supplement you’re using and see the truth about it.

  9. Maritza Mercado says:

    I’ve just begun to take turmeric curcumin with ginger and have been experiencing heavy fatigue, Can this be because of the supplements? It’s really odd to me. I do eat turmeric rice and drink turmeric milk and also drink ginger tea. But when I take these supplements after eating I just feel like anywhere I am I want to lay down.

  10. Heather says:

    Hey Maritza, it could be because of the supplements. I never heard about this side effect before, but everyone is different, so it’s possible.

    If this fatigue is too hard to bear, you can try to give up the supplement for a couple of days and see if it continues. If it goes away and then it comes back when you restart taking the pills, you might want to switch to another brand. This list could help you out.

    Another thing you can try is to take the pills before eating. In fact, try to eat at least 30 minutes after taking them. I would normally not recommend that, because turmeric can produce nausea sometimes if it’s taken before the meal – but it depends from person to person. So you can try this and if the fatigue continues, then take the pills after meal, just as before.

    Hope this helps. Get back to me in the future and let me know how it goes.

  11. Sandra Adams says:

    I have gout. It is new to me. I am on my first month of Allopurinol 199mg tab I also take blood pressure medicine. Taking the Allopurinol I still experence pain in my joints. So I got Turmeric Curcumin I take 1 Tablet with Breakfast and 1 Tablet with dinner. My pain has let up a lot. It says there is 450mg turmeric pwd., 50mg curcumin extract, Bottle is Nature Made. Am I taking to much?

  12. Heather Pharm.D. says:

    Hi Sandra, I’m quite surprised to hear your joint pain got better from such a low dose of turmeric. What you’re taking is actually too little, in my opinion.

    I know Nature Made’s supplement pretty well and I’m not its fan – because it has a very weak formula. Here’s what I mean:

    1. It only contains 450 mg of turmeric powder. Most supplements contain over 1000 mg.
    2. There are 50 mg curcumin extract and a good supplement would need about 100-1500 mg.
    3. It has no bioperine, which increases the absorption of turmeric and curcumin. With bioperine, less than 50% of them gets absorbed. The rest is eliminated immediately. So you’re actually getting less than 200 mg of turmeric and under 25 mg of curcumin extract from these pills.

    The only advantage I could find in Nature Made’s turmeric is price. There are very few supplements under $10, and this is one of them. But as I said, the price is proportional to the quality of this formula.

    So I’m very surprised you had better results with this product than with Allopurinol.

    But Sandra, if you had such good results with it, I wouldn’t switch to something else. As I said, it’s surely not the best turmeric supplement I know. But if it helps you and it’s still so cheap, continue using it. That’s what I would do.

  13. Kay Turner says:

    can turmeric cause thrush in your mouth

  14. Heather Pharm.D. says:

    Hi Kay, not really. Instead, it’s a pretty good remedy for that, so it surely didn’t cause it. Hope this helps.

  15. Bernard Lashomb says:

    my cyropracter just recomemded turmeric forte for joint and muscle pain but the side effects scare me,should i be worried and stop taking them today,im 78 and should realize that pain is a fact of life at my age

  16. Hello Bernard. I didn’t really understand if you’re experiencing any side effect or you’re just scared that you might experience any in the future.

    Well – if you’re already dealing with a side effect, maybe the brand isn’t well chosen. Some people react quite badly to certain turmeric brands but deal with no problems when switching to another brand. So if this is the first turmeric supplement you tired, my advice is to check out other options. Maybe another supplement won’t cause you any problem. Here’s a list of the best turmeric products I tried.

    And don’t worry, you don’t have to pay a lot of money to get a good turmeric supplement. There are some that have a really low price and still work great (with rare side effects).

    Now – in case you don’t have any side effect yet but you’re scared at the possibility that you might in the future, my advice is to forget about that.

    I know this list sounds scary, but here’s the reality: less than 10% of people taking turmeric ever experience any side effect. Out of those 10% that do, more than 5% experience stomach pain or nausea, which are minor issues. And in most people, these symptoms go away after several weeks.

    So that’s a general thing about side effects in any drug – they are a lot more rare than you think. NSAIDs also have lots of side effects but you rarely hear someone complaining about them. If people stopped using them just because there’s the chance to experience any side effect – believe me, most of us would be in pain very often.

    And compared to NSAIDs, turmeric supplements’ side effects are a lot more rare and insignificant.

    But if you want to make sure you won’t experience any side effect with turmeric, here’s my advice. Choose a product that has over 1000 mg turmeric powder and between 50 and 150 curcuminoides. Curcuminoides are curcumin extract, so I noticed that supplements with higher dosages (over 200) caused me side effects more often. That’s just my case, but it kind of makes sense, as the dosage is very high so it’s more powerful.

    So I’m pretty sure that turmeric won’t cause you any problem, that’s why I advise you to give it a try as soon as you can.

  17. Jeanne Purcell says:

    I have a problem getting to sleep…doctor recommended Melatonin 10g and I have been quite successful with it. I am also using curcumin 95% but find now the Melatonin is not working anymore. Can you corroborate this side effect? Also have not experienced any relief from taking the max dosage of 2 per day with meals.

  18. Heather Pharm.D. says:

    Hi Jeanne, this might be because the 2 drugs could interact with each other – so the effect of both decreases up to the point where you don’t feel any improvement. First of all, what kind of curcumin are you using (the name of the supplement)? Did Melatonin stop working after you added curcumin? If yes – try giving up curcumin for a while (1-2 weeks) and see if you can sleep better. Also, how long have you been taking the curcumin? In some people, it takes a few months until they see an effect – but it usually depends on the supplement.

    Please answer these questions so that I can understand your problem better.

  19. Eva says:

    I have very annoying ringing in the ears. By taking turmeric, I believe it got worse. But it has helped the joint pains in my hands.
    I am taking turmeric vegan capsules by Whole Foods, 2 capsules per day. Do you think this would cause the ringing to be worse?

  20. Heather Pharm.D. says:

    Hi Eva. First of all – did the ringing appear only after you started using turmeric? Or you experienced it before at least once?

    My advice is to reduce the dosage of turmeric from 2 pills to 1 per day. Pay attention to see if your joint pain stays as low as when you where taking 2 pills or if it increases. Also, see if your ringing gets better. If it doesn’t, try to stop taking those turmeric pills for a few days and see what happens.

    If your ringing disappears, it’s probably because of turmeric. But you should switch to another brand and see if the ringing returns. It might be something in Whole Food’s product or it might be something that your body doesn’t like about turmeric, and that’s why you have this reaction. But anyway, ringing isn’t a common side effect of turmeric – I personally never heard it before. That’s why it could be the brand.

    So please follow this advice and let me know what happens.

  21. Christine Banta says:

    I took 1 500 mg capsule and broke out in a bad rash on my back and legs.

  22. Heather Pharm.D. says:

    Hi Christine, sorry about your issue. But 1500 mg isn’t a very high dosage. Actually, I recommend between 1000-1500 mg per day, so you’re in the good limits. Is this the first brand you’re trying or you also used another one? I’m trying to figure out whether it’s something specific about turmeric in general or if it could be because of additives/extra ingredients.

    You could also try to reduce the dosage to half (take 1 pill if the label recommends 2 and so on) and see what happens.

    Please get back to me with more details so that I can give you a more detailed answer.

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