Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family. Its stalk, a common curry spice, has been used to ease swelling. It has also been used for arthritis and health problems with the stomach and liver. It can be taken as a pill, tea, or extract.


1 to 2 grams per day

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Osteoarthritis —likely to ease swelling and pain, especially when taken with boswellic acid U1-U11

May Be Effective

  • Allergic rhinitis —may improve nasal air flow A1
  • Chronic kidney disease—may ease itching D1
  • Cognitive function —may slow cognitive decline E1, E2
  • Crohn Disease —may ease symptoms F1
  • Depression —may ease symptoms G1-G7
  • Diabetes —may improve glycemic control and lower cholesterol; may prevent type 2 diabetes in people with pre-diabetes H1, H2
  • Heart attack—may lower the risk in people who have had coronary artery bypass grafting I1
  • High Cholesterol —may lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol when used with phytosterol therapy J1
  • Human papillomavirus infection—may clear cervical HPV infection K1
  • Impaired glucose tolerance—may improve glycemic control L1
  • Inflammatory bowel disease—may help maintain remission M1, M2
  • Irritable bowel syndrome —may ease symptoms and improve quality of life O1
  • Metabolic syndrome —may lower cholesterol and promote weight loss P1, P2
  • Molar removal—may ease inflammation and pain Q1
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease—may improve liver fat R1-R5
  • Oral leukoplakia—may ease symptoms T1
  • Painful conditions—may ease pain V1
  • Premenstrual syndrome —may ease symptoms X1
  • Sulfur mustard intoxication—may ease inflammation AA1

May Not Be Effective

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

Turmeric is likely safe when limited amounts are taken for a short time. It may cause headaches, diarrhea, and rash in some people. Not enough studies have been done to say whether they are safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:

  • People with bone disorders should talk to their doctors before taking turmeric. It may interact with their medicines.


REFA Allergic Rhinitis

REFA1 Wu S, Xiao D. Effect of curcumin on nasal symptoms and airflow in patients with perennial allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016 Dec;117(6):697-702.e1.

REFB Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

REFB1 Ahmadi M, Agah E, et al. Safety and Efficacy of Nanocurcumin as Add-On Therapy to Riluzole in Patients With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial. Neurotherapeutics. 2018 Apr;15(2):430-438.

REFC Cancer Treatment Support

REFC1 Ryan JL, Heckler CE, et al. Curcumin for radiation dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of thirty breast cancer patients. Radiat Res. 2013 Jul;180(1):34-43.

REFC2 Palatty PL, Azmidah A, et al. Topical application of a sandal wood oil and turmeric based cream prevents radiodermatitis in head and neck cancer patients undergoing external beam radiotherapy: a pilot study. Br J Radiol. 2014 Jun;87(1038):20130490.

REFD Chronic Kidney Disease

REFD1 Pakfetrat M, Basiri F, et al. Effects of turmeric on uremic pruritus in end stage renal disease patients: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. J Nephrol. 2014 Apr;27(2):203-207.

REFE Cognitive Function

REFE1 Rainey-Smith SR, Brown BM, et al. Curcumin and cognition: a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of community-dwelling older adults. Br J Nutr. 2016 Jun;115(12):2106-2113.

REFE2 Small GW, Siddarth P, et al. Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2018 Mar;26(3):266-277.

REFF Crohn Disease

REFF1 Schneider A, Hossain I, et al. Comparison of remicade to curcumin for the treatment of Crohn's disease: A systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2017 Aug;33:32-38.

REFG Depression

REFG1 Lopresti AL, Maes M, et al. Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2014;167:368-375.

REFG2 Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-585.

REFG3 Esmaily H, Sahebkar A, et al. An investigation of the effects of curcumin on anxiety and depression in obese individuals: A randomized controlled trial. Chin J Integr Med. 2015 May;21(5):332-338.

REFG4 Yu JJ, Pei LB, et al. Chronic Supplementation of Curcumin Enhances the Efficacy of Antidepressants in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2015 Aug;35(4):406-410.

REFG5 Al-Karawi D, Al Mamoori DA, et al. The Role of Curcumin Administration in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: Mini Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Phytother Res. 2016 Feb;30(2):175-183.

REFG6 Lopresti AL, Drummond PD. Efficacy of curcumin, and a saffron/curcumin combination for the treatment of major depression: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2017 Jan 1;207:188-196.

REFG7 Ng QX, Koh SSH, et al. Clinical Use of Curcumin in Depression: A Meta-Analysis. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2017 Jun 1;18(6):503-508.

REFH Diabetes

REFH1 Chuengsamarn S, Rattanamongkolgul S, et al. Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2012 Nov;35(11):2121-2127.

REFH2 Panahi Y, Khalili N, et al. Effects of Curcuminoids Plus Piperine on Glycemic, Hepatic and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial. Drug Res (Stuttg). 2018 Jul;68(7):403-409.

REFI Heart Attack

REFI1 Wongcharoen W, Jai-Aue S, et al. Effects of curcuminoids on frequency of acute myocardial infarction after coronary artery bypass grafting. Am J Cardiol. 2012 Jul 1;110(1):40-44.

REFJ High Cholesterol

REFJ1 Ferguson JJA, Stojanovski E, et al. Curcumin potentiates cholesterol-lowering effects of phytosterols in hypercholesterolaemic individuals. A randomised controlled trial. Metabolism. 2018 May;82:22-35.

REFK Human Papillomavirus Infection

REFK1 Basu P, Dutta S, et al. Clearance of cervical human papillomavirus infection by topical application of curcumin and curcumin containing polyherbal cream: a phase II randomized controlled study. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(10):5753-5759.

REFL Impaired Glucose Tolerance

REFL1 Demmers A, Korthout H, et al. Effects of medicinal food plants on impaired glucose tolerance: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2017 Sep;131:91-106.

REFM Inflammatory Bowel Disease

REFM1 Ng SC, Lam YT, et al. Systematic review: the efficacy of herbal therapy in inflammatory bowel disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Oct;38(8):854-863.

REFM2 Langhorst J, Wulfert H, et al. Systematic review of complementary and alternative medicine treatments in inflammatory bowel diseases. J Crohns Colitis. 2015 Jan;9(1):86-106.

REFN Intestinal Adenoma

REFN1 Cruz-Correa M, Hylind LM, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Treatment of Intestinal Adenomas in Patients With Familial Adenomatous Polyposis. Gastroenterology. 2018 Sep;155(3):668-673.

REFO Irritable Bowel Syndrome

REFO1 Portincasa P, Bonfrate L, et al. Curcumin and Fennel Essential Oil Improve Symptoms and Quality of Life in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2016 Jun;25(2):151-157.

REFP Metabolic Syndrome

REFP1 Yang YS, Su YF, et al. Lipid-lowering effects of curcumin in patients with metabolic syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Dec;28(12):1770-1777.

REFP2 Di Pierro F, Bressan A, et al. Potential role of bioavailable curcumin in weight loss and omental adipose tissue decrease: preliminary data of a randomized, controlled trial in overweight people with metabolic syndrome. Preliminary study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015 Nov;19(21):4195-4202.

REFQ Molar Removal

REFQ1 Maulina T, Diana H, et al. The efficacy of curcumin in managing acute inflammation pain on the post-surgical removal of impacted third molars patients: A randomised controlled trial. J Oral Rehabil. 2018 Sep;45(9):677-683.

REFR Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

REFR1 Panahi Y, Kianpour P, et al. Curcumin Lowers Serum Lipids and Uric Acid in Subjects With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2016 Sep;68(3):223-229.

REFR2 Rahmani S, Asgary S, et al. Treatment of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease with Curcumin: A Randomized Placebo-controlled Trial. Phytother Res. 2016 Sep;30(9):1540-1548.

REFR3 Hewling, S, Kalman, D. Curcumin: A review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017;6(10):92.

REFR4 Panahi Y, Kianpour P, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Phytosomal Curcumin in Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Randomized Control Trial. Drug Res (Stuttg). 2017;67(4):244-251.

REFR5 Navekar R, Rafraf M, et al. Turmeric Supplementation Improves Serum Glucose Indices and Leptin Levels in Patients with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017 May-Jun;36(4):261-267.

REFS Obesity

REFS1 Mohammadi A, Sahebkar A, et al. Effects of supplementation with curcuminoids on dyslipidemia in obese patients: a randomized crossover trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):374-379.

REFT Oral Leukoplakia

REFT1 Kuriakose MA, Ramdas K, et al. A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Phase IIB Trial of Curcumin in Oral Leukoplakia. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2016 Aug;9(8):683-691.

REFU Osteoarthritis

REFU1 Kaptniratsaikul V, Thanakhumpyorn S, et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15(8):898-907.

REFU2 Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, et al. Efficacy and safety of Meriva, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern Med Rev. 2010;15(4):227-244.

REFU3 Madhu K, Chanda K, et al. Safety and efficacy of Curcuma longa extract in the treatment of painful knee osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Inflammopharmacology. 2013 Apr;21(2):129-136.

REFU4 Nakagawa Y, Mukai S, et al. Short-term effects of highly-bioavailable curcumin for treating knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled prospective study. J Orthop Sci. 2014 Nov;19(6):933-939.

REFU5 Panahi Y, Rahimnia AR, et al. Curcuminoid treatment for knee osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Nov;28(11):1625-1631.

REFU6 Daily JW, Yang M, et al. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. J Med Food. 2016 Aug;19(8):717-729.

REFU7 Onakpoya IJ, Spencer EA, et al. Effectiveness of curcuminoids in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Int J Rheum Dis. 2017 Apr;20(4):420-433.

REFU8 Del Grossi Moura M, Lopes LC, et al. Oral herbal medicines marketed in Brazil for the treatment of osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytother Res. 2017 Nov;31(11):1676-1685.

REFU9 Haroyan A, Mukuchyan V, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin and its combination with boswellic acid in osteoarthritis: a comparative, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 Jan 9;18(1):7.

REFU10 Liu X, Machado GC, et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Feb;52(3):167-175.

REFU11 Bannuru RR, Osani MC, et al. Efficacy of curcumin and Boswellia for knee osteoarthritis: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2018 Dec;48(3):416-429.

REFV Painful Conditions

REFV1 Sahebkar A, Henrotin Y. Analgesic Efficacy and Safety of Curcuminoids in Clinical Practice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Pain Med. 2016 Jun;17(6):1192-1202.

REFW Pancreatic Cancer

REFW1 Pastorelli D, Fabricio ASC, et al. Phytosome complex of curcumin as complementary therapy of advanced pancreatic cancer improves safety and efficacy of gemcitabine: Results of a prospective phase II trial. Pharmacol Res. 2018 Jun;132:72-79.

REFX Premenstrual Syndrome

REFX1 Khayat S, Fanaei H, et al. Curcumin attenuates severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2015 Jun;23(3):318-324.

REFY Psoriasis

REFY1 Bahraini P, Rajabi M, et al. Turmeric tonic as a treatment in scalp psoriasis: A randomized placebo-control clinical trial. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Jun;17(3):461-466.

REFZ Rheumatoid Arthritis

REFZ1 Amalraj A, Varma K, et al. A Novel Highly Bioavailable Curcumin Formulation Improves Symptoms and Diagnostic Indicators in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Two-Dose, Three-Arm, and Parallel-Group Study. J Med Food. 2017 Oct;20(10):1022-1030.

REFAA Sulfur Mustard Intoxication

REFAA1 Panahi Y, Ghanei M, et al. Short-term Curcuminoid Supplementation for Chronic Pulmonary Complications due to Sulfur Mustard Intoxication: Positive Results of a Randomized Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial. Drug Res (Stuttg). 2015 Nov;65(11):567-573.

REFBB Ulcerative Colitis

REFBB1 Hanai, H, Lida T, Takeuchi K, et al. Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis: randomized, multicenter, double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Clin Gastroentreol Hepatol. 2006;4(12):1502-6.

REFBB2 Kumar S, Ahuja V, et al. Curcumin for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD008424.

REFBB3 Lang A, Salomon N, et al. Curcumin in Combination With Mesalamine Induces Remission in Patients With Mild-to-Moderate Ulcerative Colitis in a Randomized Controlled Trial. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Aug;13(8):1444-9.e1.

REFBB4 Grammatikopoulou MG, Gkiouras K, et al. Oral Adjuvant Curcumin Therapy for Attaining Clinical Remission in Ulcerative Colitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2018 Nov 12;10(11). pii: E1737.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 07/2019
  • Update Date: 03/27/2020