Q. I am curious about turmeric. I have osteoarthritis and read that turmeric might help joint pain.
I am also under a doctor’s care for macular degeneration. As a result, I cannot take aspirin or blood thinners. Does turmeric thin the blood?
A. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is characterized as “dry” or “wet” depending upon the stage of the disease and the abnormal growth of blood vessels at the back of the eye that can leak. Doctors advise against aspirin and anticoagulants for those with wet AMD to reduce the risk of bleeding inside the eye (Retina, Nov.-Dec., 2010).
There is growing evidence that the yellow spice turmeric used in curry and yellow mustard has anti-inflammatory properties. The active ingredient, curcumin, may also possess anticoagulant activity, however (BMB Reports, April, 2012). We have heard from a number of readers that combining turmeric with the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin) can lead to an increased risk of bleeding. This spice might be too dangerous for you.
For those who are not taking an anticoagulant and would like to learn more about the fascinating properties of turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin, we suggest our book The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. You will learn how to maximize absorption of this compound along with many conditions for which it may be helpful including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, psoriasis and arthritis.
Should you wish to find out how to cook with turmeric we have a number of delicious dishes in our book, Recipes & Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy. They range from an anti-inflammatory curcumin scramble to turmeric milk and cabbage curry (for its anticancer properties). We also share a pork and pineapple curry and curried sweet potato “fries” that are not fried.
There is a reason why turmeric is one of our favorite spices. That said, we do encourage anyone on blood thinners to avoid it as we do not want to increase the risk for a hemorrhage.