use turmeric

Turmeric, an Indian herb that gives its bright yellow color to curry, is a superstar these days. Scientists have found that it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects (Ooko et al, Frontiers in Pharmacology, Feb. 2, 2017). They are evaluating it as a way to manage musculoskeletal pain (Gaffey et al, JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, Feb. 2017). Other researchers think it might reduce the risk of dementia (Mirmosayyeb et al, International Journal of Preventive Medicine, Feb. 7, 2017). We are enthusiastic about its potential uses. We worry, however, about a possible turmeric interaction with anticoagulants.

Is There a Turmeric Interaction with Plavix?

Q. I started taking turmeric to fight inflammation and got a nasty surprise. I began bleeding at the slightest scratch.

It took me a while to figure out that the herb was interacting with the Plavix I take to prevent a blood clot. I often didn’t even feel the scratch, but it would bleed profusely.

I was taking high-grade turmeric capsules. I wish I could use turmeric instead of Plavix, since I can’t take NSAIDs for my arthritis. I hope this information helps someone else.

Turmeric Interaction with Warfarin:

A. We have heard from readers taking the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin) that turmeric can increase the risk of bleeding. In the laboratory, this spice can keep blood platelets from sticking together to form clots (McEwen, Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis, April 2015).

Yours is the first report we have received of a possible interaction between turmeric or curcumin and clopidogrel (Plavix). Its effect on platelets suggest that turmeric or its derivative curcumin might interact with other anticoagulants as well.

Other Adverse Effects of Turmeric:

Although the anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric can provide relief for sore joints, some people have experienced digestive distress or an allergic reaction. Here are a few of their reports:

“I’ve been taking turmeric for psoriatic arthritis that has made my hands dry and my fingertips split. I have been taking two pills a day.

“I have noticed an itchy rash on my arms that I didn’t have before. Although the turmeric has helped my skin and the arthritis pain, I am worried that it may have caused the rash.”

Here is another reader’s reaction:

“I tried turmeric for its health benefits last May. In June I developed serious rash and itching on my chest and neck. I stopped the turmeric and it cleared up. I looked in your book and noted that some folks said they had a similar reaction to the spice.”

We have long been warning those who must take the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin) to avoid turmeric. Your experience suggests that other anticoagulants might also be incompatible with this spice.

You can learn more about the research on curcumin and turmeric for fighting cancer in our Show 988: Spices for a Healthy Life. In it, we interview Ajay Goel, PhD, of Baylor about his groundbreaking research.

Revised 3/6/2017

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  1. carole

    I wanted to take a baby aspirin and fish oil for the protective qualities because I have a family history of colon and gastric cancer. However, I was put on Plavix because an M.D. thinks I may have had silent strokes. It seems to me that if I take the aspirin and fish oil with turmeric, there are just too many blood thinners…I’m not sure I would call it a bad interaction.

    With Plavix though…

    So, I cannot take any of those supplements with the Plavix because if I do, I tend to get a pink discharge when I blow my nose among other things…and of course the physician wants to go the Plavix rouote instead of the supplements.

  2. Rita

    I have recently started to take turmeric in the powder form. I have been adding a tsp, twice a day to my food. I have recently been told that I have dementia. I feel like this is helping with memory, etc.

    I am a diabetic & test blood sugars often. I have noticed that it is much easier to get blood since I have been taking this spice. So I will stop taking baby aspirin.

    Is the amount of turmeric that I take (2tsp.) daily the correct amount? I can’t seem to find info on how much to take.

  3. Cindy M. Black
    Seattle, WA

    Thanks for a very interesting and informative article! I, too, have heard nothing but good stuff about Turmeric and finally decided to up my daily intake from 500mg to 1000mg. Since the package instructions said to take up to 3 pills a day (1500mg), I figured I was being conservative.
    HOWEVER, 2 things I’ve noticed: First, my blood is very thin. Any little cut will bleed a lot. I don’t mind that because, well, I’d much rather have thin blood than thick! I figure it to be an added benefit. Secondly I, too, have noticed quite a bit of itching intermittently here and there. If you scratch, it gets worse and develops into tiny raised welts which then go back down and disappear if you can keep your claws off ’em. Not a huge problem, but confusing… as I have NEVER had any kind of itch, rash or skin problem in my whole life! Now that I think of it, that itching started just about the time I upped the dose of Turmeric. Hmmmm..

    Also, one more thought… Earlier this year I finally caved to my dr’s urging and had a darn colonoscopy. I had to do the full-meal-deal (ugh) because they said they found a “little bit of blood” in the stool sample I sent in. Of course the test came out fine. But I wonder: since I do take a few other OTC supplements that also thin the blood, might there have been a bit of “leakage” into places that blood normally doesn’t go? And if so, would such leakage have the potential to do any bodily harm over time? Just wondering..

    • mike
      la habra

      Hi Cindy, I’ve done a lot of research on this and came to this conclusion…start off with half a teaspoon a day for about a week then graduate to one full teaspoon a day and that should be enough. Remember to take it with black pepper or cayenne or coconu/olive oil for better absorbtion

  4. John

    Blood thinners if on any best not take fish oil or vit.E caps./tablets as they interact.
    Tumeric should only be used in its natural form as a herb & use just for flavoring.
    Indian people are brought up with it so they are able to tolerate it. Western people react because they introduce something they are not used to – which acts as a foreign body.
    There has been research done on tumeric & people are really wasting their money on capsules & tablets as they have no value to health. So if using tumeric it should only be used in cooking to obtain it’s value.

  5. Brenda Cook
    Seattle, WA

    I used turmeric for a long time and was experiencing neurological problems – itching, balance, neuropathy among others. My neurologist suspected elevated B6 and he was right. Turmeric is very high in B6. I always believed B vitamins couldn’t be overdosed but for me and B6 that is not true. My levels were 10 times the upper limit. By stopping turmeric and avoiding enriched grain products it eventually came back into the normal range but It took a year and a half to bring it down. The neurological problems went away. So anyone using turmeric and having neurological symptoms should have their b6 levels tested.

  6. Michael

    I’ve been taking Life Extension’s “Super Bio-Curcumin”, a turmeric-based supplement, for several years. It’s essentially eliminated arthritis pain in my hands, with no obvious side effects. I will mention this article to my ophthalmologist when I see him next week to evaluate my 1st cataract surgery, and plan for the 2nd. No signs of macular degeneration or bleeding problems yet.

  7. Coleen Brock
    Choose a StateNorth Carolina

    I need advice about finding a less expensive source for Ellura. My urologist suggested it to help prevent frequent UTIs that trigger hypersensitivity pneumonitis and put me in the hospital. I am very sensitive to all antibiotics. From the source here in the U. S. each capsule costs 1.50. It is the only hope I’ve ever had of preventing these UTIs. I understand that Canadian drugs are less expensive but I don’t want to make a mistake here. Can you advise?

  8. Erika
    SE TX

    Another side effect of Turmeric: I have been taking it for many years and it has worked well for my osteoarthritis. For the past two years, I have noticed where my grey hair is turning white it has gotten a yellow-orange tint. I ran out of turmeric, last month and the bothersome ugly tint has disappeared. Unfortunately, my osteoarthritis has flared up. Now what do I do?

  9. Lorene
    houston tx

    Interactions driving us crazy, after husband /LAD heart attack/stent (Widowmaker).
    Regime was 5 Rx drugs, but with an excellent nuclear stress test at 36 days, doc took him off Beta Blocker Ramipril. At 3 months doc took him off Plavix! Yay!

    He is on Carvidilol BB and low dose aspirin. There are many good nutrition supplements, incl. Natto, Moringa, Cucermin, Apple Cider Vinegar that would do the job of lowering blood pressure, glucose (Type 2 diabetes, Metformin & Statin-Lipitor). But the interactions are scary.

    Can he get off aspirin or is this dangerous? Its the aspirin (as blood thinner) that interacts, but there are many great supplements (CoQ10, magnesium, Bromalaine, fish oils, Cod liver oil) that he could be taking instead to do the same job as Metformin & Lipitor. There seem to be no complications with Carvidilol, but want him off ALL Rx, if possible.

    Really want NATTO, as this may prevent calcification (calcium) in arteries + K2 Vitamin – a known fact, but Natto is a blood thinner as well. Ideas? It just appears that all Rx drugs have interactions, while there are NONE with natural plant-based herbs, supplements. Any thoughts?

    • Terry Graedon

      Actually, there are interactions with plant-based medicines as well. We’ll try to get you some answers about the ones that interest you.

  10. Liza
    United States

    My thoughts are that when you have a heart attack and there is a blockage removed, and you are put on Plavix (as I am) – you cannot take turmeric or you will bleed. I was taking it and two cardiologists said absolutely no. Do NOT take it since it can cause a bleed that might not be able to be stopped since Plavix has no reversal medication (as does Coumadin or warfarin for a bleed).
    I am hoping at the one year mark, I will be switched to Coumadin – but I may have to stay on Plavix which means NO supplements since there is often a clash of meds and with Plavix you can bleed without a control available.
    All of these people using supplements should know that many are not known for causing certain problems. For that reason, I stopped all and I feel much better since doing that.

  11. JoAnn

    I started using turmeric , just sprinkling it on foods and one night before bed, I blew my nose,
    I got a lot of bright red blood, and when I checked my nose, the bleeding was coming from the inside mucus membranes, it was very hard to stop the bleeding for at least a half hour. I continued using the turmeric for a few more days and every night at bedtime my nose would start bleeding. I usually keep a food diary and the only new thing that I had added was the turmeric. Once I stopped using it, my nose healed and the bleeding stopped. That was very frightening and I would like others to know that this can happen when taking turmeric.

  12. Katrina

    Very interesting, I take the nattokinase and serrapeptase combination, recently sent the curcumin by mistake and had no idea if they were safe to take. This is the only place I have found any real answers. I had a saddle embolism and open surgery a year ago, couldn’t stomach the stating and aspirin they made me so I’ll. I couldn’t keep any food down, I’m going to try the curcumin and hopefully that will reduce the stinging sensations I still get.

  13. lalear

    I DO NOT take Warfarin or any other kind of blood thinner, but I have experienced retinal bleeds after eating curry or using turmeric. My blood thins when I eat turmeric, ginger, raw garlic, or flax seed. I love Indian food and a couple years ago, I ate at my favorite Indian restaurant 5 days in a row. About 10 minutes after I started eating curry on the fifth day, my eye developed a significant bleed.
    My vision is still impacted from leftover debris from that bleed. The only medication I take is 2.5 mg of Lisinopril a day. I take no supplements. I monitor my blood sugar in the mornings and if I eat any of the foods listed above, it takes 5 minutes for the bleeding to stop. Otherwise, the bleeding ceases immediately after taking the sample. I have had this problem with turmeric, ginger, raw garlic, and flax seed for at least 30 years.

  14. Dbl

    My husband has mild dementia and has been taking Aricept for about 4years. About 4 months ago his primary doc suggested Axona for the dementia. That has helped his memory. He also has peripheral artery disease with Venus stasis. Has had several surgeries, one resulting with a blood clot which has gone away with treatment. He is on Plavix, 75MG daily. He does tend to bleed when he scratches himself.
    Recently I have been reading about Turmeric and its benefits for someone with dementia and have read that taking it with plavix is not recommended. I’d like your opinion please.

  15. Barbara

    My retina eye dr. told me that it might not be a good idea to take turmeric because I have aged related macular degeneration and there is evidence turmeric can cause dry macular degeneration to become wet and blindness is the result. Anything that increases blood flow could do this including warfarin.
    I wonder if Ginkgo could do the same?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: That is a good question, but we don’t know the answer. Aspirin has certainly been implicated in this.

    • Mia
      Stone Mountain

      Barbara! I have Macular Degeneration ( dry ) and I believe turmeric started the bleeding behind my retina. I have never heard anybody else say that! Thanks for sharing your story. I stopped taking it immediately!A piece of my central vision is missing and I am seeing wavy…Turmeric is great but talk to your ophthalmologist or retina specialist before using it.

  16. fbl

    I had an argument with my cardiologist about this very thing. I won and am much healthier for it!
    He’d tried me on all kinds of meds that my body reacted very badly to. I finally started taking natural blood thinners that have worked beautifully. No, he was not happy with the finger prick test, but I found out from my family Dr. that there is a better test. My family Dr. approved of my approach and is very happy with the results.
    I’ve been taking a curcurmin based remedy for hip pain off and on for many years and it has not affected my bleeding. I am also taking nattokinase, vitamin E, gingko biloba and cayenne. The curcurmin remedy has also helped my heart pain that simply would not go away after an ablation procedure. The herb stopped the pain so I take it regularly too so it helps the hip and the heart.
    After my refusing any other meds, the Dr. tried pushing aspirin. Again I refused. I have been doing incredibly well on my regimen and my heart is happy.

  17. H.

    Oh thank you for that comment. I am on Plavix and have been trying to decide about taking turmeric for BP. I know that I had a reaction to flaxseed oil and Plavix. This is the first mention I have heard about turmeric. Good to know.

    • c

      what are natural blood thinners?

  18. RAB

    I buy the trumeric powder at the local Sprouts and only occasionally mix it in as a spice and I ‘enhance’ mustard with a dash of turmeric. I do not take the capsule form. It can be messy in powder form, but you learn to use it carefully. I have been on a lot of the statins and am rid of them now. My approach is God made us to take in a variety of nutrients on a casual or occasional basis. I never ‘regimine’ my intake of any source.

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