Curcumin is an active ingredient in turmeric, an herb that is most often used as curry spice and yellow food coloring. It also carries medicinal properties and is part of many traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese treatments for health problems such as indigestion, jaundice, dysentery, arthritis, and chest congestion. A natural product, many people do not suffer any side effects when consuming it for health purposes. Even clinical studies show that it is safe to be taken in small doses daily. There are, nevertheless, some common side effects to be aware of.
One of these is contact dermatitis that develops on the skin or scalp of those who are allergic to curcumin. This condition normally begins with the presence of a red rash on the exposed area, which appears within 24 to 72 hours of exposure. Without treatment, the skin continues to itch and burn, after which blisters, welts, or hives may develop.
Mild stomach distress is another side effect when curcumin is take in high doses and for a prolonged period of time. Since it may be used to treat heartburn and stomach ulcers, use of higher than the recommended dosage can upset the stomach and eventually bring about severe nausea and diarrhea.
Curcumin is known to stimulate the uterus and may also cause menstrual flow. These two curcumin side effects present a particular risk to women who are pregnant, as taking it during a pregnancy raises the risk of a miscarriage. Women are thus discouraged from consuming this herb at all throughout their pregnancy.
Curcumin side effects also include an increased risk of bleeding. Since curcumin slows down the clotting of blood, it is not recommended for those who have preexisting bleeding disorders. Furthermore, the risk of bleeding out is increased when it is taken together with other drugs, like anticoagulants. Curcumin can also cause more bleeding during and after surgery, and should not be consumed for at least two weeks before surgery.
One of the more severe side effects is that it can be poisonous to the liver and gallbladder when taken in very high doses and for an extended time. Curcumin eases the flow of bile from the liver, and in this way helps prevent the formation of gallstones. It is an ineffective treatment, however, if there are already gallstones in the gallbladder. In fact, curcumin may exacerbate the problem by flushing existing gallstones through the bile duct, and blocking it.
There are some serious curcumin side effects when it is taken by people with certain diseases, such as diabetes. Some research has shown that curcumin might lower blood sugar; since many diabetics are already taking medication to control their blood sugar, taking curcumin could contribute to complications. There is also some indication that it could lower blood pressure, so people on blood pressure medication may want to avoid it.