Turmeric, a fragrant rhizome related to ginger, has been used for centuries as a component of international cuisine and traditional medicine. Turmeric and its constituent compound curcumin demonstrate promise as treatment options for conditions such as upset stomach, certain cancers, headache, inflammation and menstrual disorders. In amounts used in food, turmeric is safe and associated with few or no side effects. However, there are some turmeric contraindications. If you are in any of the following high-risk groups, you should not use turmeric in medicinal amounts.
Medicinal doses of turmeric, exceeding one gram per day, are not safe during pregnancy. Large doses of turmeric can stimulate contractions in the uterus, increasing the risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy. Later in pregnancy, turmeric supplements may trigger premature labor. Consult your obstetrician, midwife or other prenatal health care provider before taking any medicinal herb during pregnancy.
People with Gallbladder Problems
Turmeric increases the production of bile, so it can worsen gallbladder problems such as gallstones and bile duct obstruction. This could lead to severe pain and other major side effects. Consult your health care provider for help choosing herbal medicines when you have a gallbladder condition.
People Scheduled to have Surgery
Compounds in turmeric, particularly curcumin, may slow blood clotting and increase your risk of hemorrhage (excessive bleeding) during or after a surgical procedure. Do not use turmeric within two weeks of a scheduled surgery. Tell your health care provider about any supplements you take prior to surgery, because they may need to take extra precautions to prevent serious problems.
There are a few other risks and side effects associated with turmeric supplements. Visit the National Institutes of Health for more information about turmeric contraindications.