Curcuma longa, Indian saffron, curcuma aromatica, turmeric
- Indications with possible efficacy:
Antioxidant (popular use)
- Indications with possible, but poorly documented efficacy:
Cancer - prevention
- Other indications with no proof of efficacy:
- Risk of Drug Interactions: Low
- Adverse Effects: Low
Part of the plant used: rhizome
Curcuma, a small perennial plant native to South Asia, is part of the ginger family. Cultivated in tropical climates, it can grow to a height of 0.9 to 1.5 meters. Curcuma contains curcuminoids, namely curcumin which, in addition to being the major component (90%), is also responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity.
The dried rhizome powder is a very popular and widely used spice found in curry. It is also used as a colouring agent.
Directions for use
Dried rhizome powder - up to 9 grams per day
Dried rhizome powder - 1.5 to 3.0 grams per day (containing 60 to 200 mg of curcuminoids).
Infusion - 1.0 to 1.5 grams of rhizome powder in 150 mL of boiling water. Drink 2 cups daily.
Standardized extract - 200 to 400 mg of curcuminoids 3 times a day
- Adverse effects
There are few adverse effects associated with usual doses of curcuma. Some however, may experience nausea and diarrhea. In rare instances, curcuma may cause skin reactions and allergic reactions. Curcuma may also increase one's risk of developing kidney stones.
Do not use curcuma if you have gallstones or other gallbladder problems. Use with caution if you have a stomach or duodenal ulcer.
Curcuma is not recommended for those taking oral anticoagulants, antiplatelets or anti-inflammatories. Before using curcuma, speak to your pharmacist to see whether it is compatible with the drugs you are presently taking.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Since curcuma has abortive properties, using high doses while pregnant is contraindicated. There is no reliable information about its safety when breastfeeding.
- Choose a curcuma formulation that contains bromelain. This substance helps the absorption of curcumin.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2010
- Passeportsanté.net. Curcuma. www.passeportsante.net
- Blumethal M et al. The Complete German Commission E monographs, 1998
- Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide, 2000-2001
- The Review of Natural Products, 6th Edition, 2010
- Health Canada, Natural Products Database
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