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Turmeric Raises the Risk for Severe Bleeding

Turmeric raises the risk of hemorrhage, especially if it is combined with an anticoagulant such as warfarin (Coumadin) or clopidogrel (Plavix).

We commend any effort to control health problems with nondrug approaches such as food choice, exercise, meditation, stress relief and so on. But we caution that it is critical to understand that even natural treatments can have undesirable effects. One reader discovered that turmeric raises the risk for profuse bleeding.

Turmeric and Nosebleeds:

Q. I started sprinkling the spice turmeric on food for its anti-inflammatory properties. One night before bed, I blew my nose and saw a lot of bright red blood. 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 turmeric.

Once I stopped using this spice, 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.

A. Turmeric and its active component curcumin have become very popular in recent years for both anti-inflammatory activity and potential anti-cancer effects. But we have heard from others that turmeric raises the risk for bleeding.

Be Wary of Pairing Turmeric with an Anticoagulant:

In most of these cases the problem occurred when turmeric was combined with another drug.

One reader noted:

“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 spice was interacting with the Plavix (clopidogrel) I take to prevent blood clots. I often didn’t even feel the scratch, but it would bleed profusely.”

Another reader reported:

“I have been on Coumadin (warfarin) for 15 years because of an artificial aortic valve. I had read that turmeric was effective in lowering cholesterol and began sprinkling it on broccoli. My INR [a measure of blood thinning] went up dramatically and my pharmacist said, ‘STOP!'”

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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