A member of the ginger family, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is yellow spice that has been used as a spice in Asia for centuries. It is also used in other various ways including making dye. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is linked to certain health benefits and medicinal properties. But is turmeric safe?
A recent case involving a turmeric supplements user has health supplements proponents and opponents going for each other’s jugular. Nay, those who have a bias against nutritional supplements naysayers are having a field day demonizing nutritional supplements in general. So, what’s the story?
In what some quarters are inaccurately calling a “turmeric case study”, one woman who experienced an adverse effect to turmeric supplements has given the supplements naysayers a field day if not week. Forget that people do get adverse effects to pharmaceutical drugs, including over the counter medications. One person has an adverse effect to one supplement and all supplements are now bad for you.
The 71-year old woman reportedly had elevated levels of liver enzymes in blood tests, and was later diagnosed as a condition known as autoimmune hepatitis. This is a rare condition (emphasis on rare) in which the immune system attacks the liver.
Now, we cannot downplay the condition. It is quite serious and without treatment it could lead to liver failure. The problem is the reaction from some quarters.
The woman, who appears savvy about (natural) health and surprising also savvy with computers for someone that age, went to work. Having heard that turmeric could affect the liver, she stopped taking the supplements. Her condition is said to have improved and has since disappeared. But does this mean turmeric is dangerous?
According to researchers from the University of Arizona, 10-15 percent of cases of illness, drugs and supplements may trigger autoimmune hepatitis. Therefore, it is not fair to simply blame supplements because of one report that cannot accurately be called a case study.
Turmeric and Your Liver
Interestingly, turmeric is one of the natural substances that have been shown to be beneficial for your liver. How?
Well, due to the obesity epidemic, people of all ages suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver today. polyphenols in turmeric may be helpful in reducing risk of fatty liver.
In conclusion, one case of reaction to a supplement should not warrant a blanket vilification of that supplement, leave alone supplements in general. Turmeric may, in some cases, be beneficial to your liver as well as offering other health benefits.
We always encourage working with a knowledgeable healthcare professional (read doctor) before starting on a supplement. The emphasis is on “knowledgeable” as not all doctors know about supplements and some do have their own biases too.