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Curcumin Side Effects & Adverse Reactions (List)

Curcumin is a yellowish-colored compound derived from turmeric (a curry spice within the Ginger family) that is often taken as a dietary supplement and/or utilized as a food additive.  It was initially isolated from turmeric in 1815, chemically mapped in 1910, and thereafter formally classified as a “diarylheptanoid” (as a result of its chemical structure consisting of 2 aromatic rings (aryl groups) accompanied by a 7 carbon chain (heptane)).  By weight, curcumin accounts for 2-5% of all curcuminoids (natural phenols) within turmeric.

When ingested, curcumin functions as a selective epigenetic enzyme inhibitor of histone deacetylases (HDAC1, HDAC3, HDAC8) and transcriptional co-activator proteins (p300 histone acetyltransferase).  It also is known to antagonize arachindonate 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase enzymes.  Furthermore, it appears to modulate a multitude of cellular signal transduction pathways such as: NF-κB, Akt, MAPK, p53, Nrf2, Notch-1, JAK/STAT, β-catenin, and AMPK.

As a result of its complex pharmacodynamics, curcumin is believed to exert anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, neuroprotective, mood enhancing (via increasing BDNF), and possibly anti-cancer effects.  In effort to reap the aforementioned health-enhancing effects, many individuals have opted to take dietary curcumin supplements.  Though curcumin is usually well-tolerated, some users experience unwanted side effects as a result of supplementation.

Curcumin Side Effects & Adverse Reactions (List)

If you’ve been supplementing with curcumin, especially at high doses, it is possible that you may encounter some unwanted side effects.  The two most common side effects associated with curcumin supplementation include: diarrhea and nausea.  Below is a comprehensive list of possible side effects that you may experience while supplementing with curcumin.  Keep in mind that the severity and number of side effects you experience is likely subject to significant individual variation.  Also understand that some individuals supplementing with curcumin may not experience any noticeable side effects.

Blood thinning: There is some evidence to suggest that curcumin may elicit anticoagulant (blood thinning) effects.  In other words, it is possible that curcumin could slow blood clotting which may increase your risk for bleeding and/or bruising.  If you’re already taking a blood thinner, keep in mind that curcumin may exacerbate and/or amplify its effects to (a potentially) unwanted extent.

For this reason, medical literature recommends discontinuation of curcumin at least 2 weeks prior to surgery.  If you you believe that curcumin is thinning your blood to an unwanted extent, discuss the implications with a medical professional.  Those that have been diagnosed with preexisting bleeding disorders may want to avoid using curcumin.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22531131

Diarrhea: The single most common side effect associated with curcumin supplementation is diarrhea.  Curcumin often irritates the gastrointestinal tract leading users to report stomach aches and in many cases, diarrhea.  In some cases, diarrhea may result from taking curcumin at abnormally high doses and/or on an empty stomach.

To mitigate potential diarrhea associated with curcumin, be sure to administer it after a large meal and/or consider reducing your dosage.  The combination of post-meal ingestion, as well as dosage reduction, may be an effective strategy for preventing curcumin-induced diarrhea.  Also keep in mind that sometimes it may take the body a few days to adapt to a newly introduced supplement.

Furthermore, realize that if the curcumin was manufactured with any specific additives to enhance its bioavailability (e.g. bioperine), these additives may be the principal culprit for the diarrheal response rather than the curcumin itself.  A second strategy for coping with diarrhea is to purchase Imodium (over-the-counter); this should counteract diarrheal responses.  If for some reason you’re still experiencing wicked, relentless, round-the-clock diarrhea after taking curcumin with food, reducing your dosage, trying a different brand, co-administering Imodium, etc. – discontinuation is likely your best option.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569225

Facial flushing: A disconcerting, yet rare side effect that has been reported among a small percentage of curcumin users is facial flushing.  Some individuals notice the emergence of blotches, spots, and/or patches of redness throughout their facial, neck, and/or even upper chest region as a result of curcumin supplementation.  Facial flushing may result from an allergic reaction to curcumin and/or may subside as the body adapts to supplementation.

In some cases, the flushing may be accompanied by changes in perceived facial temperature such as hot flashes (warmth) and/or chills.  If you discontinue curcumin and notice that the facial flushing subsides, realize that curcumin was likely the culprit.  To cope with this side effect, you could consider testing a different brand (without additives) and/or adjust (reduce) your dose.  If the facial flushing persists, you may simply need to accept that you don’t tolerate curcumin supplements.

Fever: A less common side effect that some curcumin users report is an increase in body temperature.  If you notice a low-grade fever after supplementing with curcumin, it could be a response to an additive such as bioperine.  The side effects of bioperine aren’t well understood, but since it increases curcumin’s bioavailability to a significant extent, it is often included within curcumin supplements.

If you start feeling chilled and/or slightly flu-like from curcumin, and are taking a formulation with bioperine, try switching to another brand. If you aren’t taking a supplement with any bioavailability-enhancing additives, consider a dosage reduction or discontinuation to see if the feverish feeling subsides.  Also keep in mind that a slight increase in bodily temperature may result from your body initially adapting to curcumin (e.g. when you first start taking it) and may subside as it adjusts (with continued usage).

Flatulence: It is considered common to experience flatulence as a side effect from curcumin supplementation.  Some estimate that 1 out of 4 users notice an increase in gaseous bloating, accumulation, and/or simply passing gas.  In a study among those taking 6 grams of curcumin per day, flatulence was noted as being among the most common side effects.

This is another side effect stemming from curcumin’s propensity to irritate the gastrointestinal tract.  To reduce the likelihood of flatulence associated with supplementation, consider a dosage reduction and be sure to avoid taking curcumin on an empty stomach.  In most cases, the increase in flatulence as a result of curcumin supplementation should be considered minimal.

Frequent bowel movements: Even if you don’t experience diarrhea after taking curcumin, you may notice an increase in your frequency of bowel movements.  If prior to supplementing with curcumin you generally experienced a single bowel movement per day, but during supplementation bowel movements increase to 2 or 3 times daily, the curcumin supplement may be the culprit.  Perhaps if you experience frequent constipation and/or a suboptimal frequency of bowel movements, this may be a favorable side effect.

That said, for most people it may get annoying spending all that extra time in the bathroom as a result of curcumin. Also, like was already mentioned, be sure to consider that other substances within a specific curcumin supplement formulation (e.g. bioperine) aren’t reason for the uptick in bowel movements.  To rule out supplemental additives, purchase a pure curcumin extract rather than one formatted with bioperine.

Headaches: Many individuals suffering from chronic migraines and/or headaches notice that curcumin reduces their respective frequency and/or intensity.  A reduction in the occurrence and/or severity of headaches as a result of curcumin supplementation makes logical sense when considering its anti-inflammatory properties.  However, a subset of users may report an increase in the occurrence and/or frequency of headaches.

Some individuals who were headache-free prior to curcumin supplementation may develop a severe headache after supplementing for awhile.  Headaches after curcumin ingestion may signify that curcumin isn’t a good fit for that particular individual.  The cascade of pharmacodynamic implications derived from curcumin may not be favorable for all users, and therefore could lead some users to report headaches as a side effect.

Hormonal alterations: Studies have shown that curcumin is capable of modulating the function of hormonal systems in the body.  In cases of abnormally high estrogen (such as among those with Endometriosis), curcumin has been shown to reduce estradiol production and secretion.  Therefore, it is possible that when taken at high doses and/or by certain users, decreases in the production of certain hormones may be unfavorable and lead to an array of side effects.  If you notice major fluctuations in hormone levels after supplementing with curcumin, it may be more than just a coincidence – curcumin could be the culprit.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24639774

Hot flashes: Along with facial flushing and feverish feelings, some people experience hot flashes from curcumin supplementation.  Hot flashes are characterized by brief, yet sudden, flash of heat throughout the body and/or in a specific region of the body.  If you perceive intermittent temperature increases throughout your body, but don’t have a fever, you may be experiencing hot flashes as a result of curcumin supplementation.  In some cases, hot flashes may occur during the first few days of supplementing and then subside after a week or two as the body adapts to supplementation.

Itchiness: In the event that you were allergic to curcumin and/or a concomitant ingredient within a curcumin supplement, you may feel itchy.  Those that are allergic to curcumin will likely become itchy on the very first day (or two) of supplementation.  This itching may vary in its intensity from mild to severe, but usually occurs throughout the entire body.  Some users may report greater severity of itchiness in certain bodily regions.  In many cases, the itchiness is also accompanied by a skin rash (spots, blotches, etc.).

Low blood sugar: If you have diabetes, you may notice irregularities in your blood sugar after supplementing with curcumin.  It is believed that curcumin could lower levels of blood sugar, possibly causing hypoglycemia.  Some speculate that curcumin may also act synergistically with other medications to reduce blood sugar, thereby amplifying preexisting blood sugar reduction (from those medications).  Although a significant reduction in blood glucose from curcumin supplementation is unlikely, it may occur in certain users – especially among those with diabetes.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18398869

Low iron: Studies have shown that curcumin alters metabolism via chelation of iron and suppressing hepcidin protein.  This effect could theoretically cause iron deficiency among those with low iron.  If you’ve never had low iron in your life, but after supplementing with curcumin (especially at high doses) you become deficient in iron, it is possible that curcumin may have been the cause.  That said, most of the research documenting curcumin’s iron-lowering effects have been conducted in mice.

The studies document an increase in transferrin receptor 1 and activated IRP – both of which are indicative of iron depletion.  Furthermore, mice given curcumin as a dietary supplement experienced a reduction in hepatic ferritin protein.  Whether curcumin depletes iron in humans and/or the dosage at which it does so is unknown.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16545682

Low testosterone: There is some speculation that curcumin could slightly reduce the production of androgens within men.  In other words, curcumin supplements may reduce testosterone levels, which in turn may be an unwanted effect.  Furthermore, some evidence suggests that curcumin supplementation may alter functionality of the male reproductive system and may decrease sperm motility.

As a result, some sources recommend avoiding curcumin supplementation if you’re trying to have a baby.  The hormonal and reproductive effects derived from curcumin supplementation may be disadvantageous in regards to fertility.  That said, studies that noted these adverse hormonal and reproductive implications were conducted in animal models and involved administration of abnormally high doses.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22576113

Nausea: Clinical studies note that individuals supplementing with 3.6 to 8 grams of curcumin per day for a 4-month period experienced mild nausea as a side effect.  That said, 3.6 to 8 grams of curcumin per day is considered a relatively high dosage for supplementation.  If you are on a high dose regimen of curcumin supplementation and notice the onset of mild nausea, you could simply reduce the dosage until the nausea subsides.

Since curcumin isn’t well-researched, it is possible that even low doses provoke nausea in certain individuals.  In some cases, the nausea may be moderate and/or severe to the extent that an individual feels like vomiting or as if they have the flu.  If you’re experiencing severe nausea from curcumin, you may need to simply accept the fact that you’re unable to tolerate it as a supplement.

However, before you place full blame on the curcumin for your nausea, consider that additives to enhance bioavailability (e.g. bioperine) could also be the culprit.  Additionally, consider that taking curcumin with food or after a big meal may decrease likelihood of becoming nauseous from supplementation.  Although you may experience nausea from curcumin supplementation, it is likely to be transient and/or negligible as a side effect.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569225

Skin rash: If you take a curcumin supplement, there’s a chance that you may end up with a skin rash (hives) as a result.  A small percentage of the population is thought to be allergic to curcumin, and upon ingestion, it yields a rash.  This rash could also be triggered in the event that any curcumin leaks from the capsules and comes in contact with the skin, yielding a condition known as “contact dermatitis.”

In the event that you experience a skin rash within 24 and 72 hours after taking and/or using curcumin, it is necessary to consider that you may be allergic.  The skin rash may or may not be itchy, but is commonly reddish in color with splotches, patches, and/or spots.  These red spots may be noticeable throughout the body and/or concentrated in certain areas.

In extreme cases, users have reported blisters along with the rash.  It is unclear as to whether these blisters resulted directly from the curcumin, or whether they were a result of excessive skin scratching by the user.  Obviously if you have a severe skin rash, it is imperative to seek immediate medical help as to rule out other potential causes and ensure your own safety.

Stomach aches: A very common side effect associated with curcumin supplementation is that of an upset stomach.  If you notice the onset of mild, moderate, and/or severe stomach aches (and pains) after taking curcumin, it’s likely more than just a coincidence.  Curcumin can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and cause irritation to the stomach lining.

Furthermore, it should be mentioned that among those with medical conditions such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), curcumin can exacerbate symptoms.  If you have been diagnosed with GERD and are taking curcumin, be cognizant of your reaction; if symptoms worsen, the curcumin is likely to blame.  To reduce the likelihood of a stomach ache while taking curcumin, avoid taking high doses and be sure to only take it after a meal.

Stomach ulcers: There is speculation that high-dose and/or long-term curcumin supplementation may be toxic to the liver and/or gallbladder.  Despite the fact that curcumin is known to ease the flow of bile from the liver to reduce the likelihood of gallstone formation, its effects are problematic among those with preexisting gallstones in the gallbladder.  Should you have preexisting gallstones, curcumin may force them through the biliary duct and essentially obstruct it.

This may trigger intense stomach pain, and in worse cases, stomach ulcers.  If you have gallstones or suspect that you may, verify the safety of curcumin supplementation with your doctor and beware of this potentially adverse effect.  You don’t want to run the risk of worsening gallstone problems and/or biliary obstruction; this will cause intense pain.

Vomiting: Though extremely uncommon, some individuals may vomit as a result of curcumin-induced nausea.  If you’re becoming nauseous as a result of curcumin supplementation, it may be necessary to scale back the dosage as to avoid vomiting.  Vomiting could also be a sign of a bad batch (e.g. contamination), an allergic reaction, an interaction with another substance, and/or numerous other factors.

If you’ve vomited while taking curcumin, and you’re sure that curcumin is to blame, try scaling back the dosage and/or consider that it may be an allergic reaction.  In any regard, always seek immediate medical attention as to pinpoint the specific causes for your vomiting.  If each time you take curcumin, you feel nauseous and/or vomit, it’s likely a sign that you’re unable to tolerate it.

Yellowing of skin, stool, sweat: Those supplementing with curcumin have reported yellowing of the skin, stool, sweat, and/or fingernails following curcumin supplementation.  In some cases, the yellow sweats associated with curcumin were significant enough to stain bed sheets, towels, etc. Obviously yellowing of the skin could be a sign of jaundice (so get this ruled out), but if you’re taking curcumin and notice everything is turning yellow, you’re likely not alone.

Typically, in order to notice yellow skin, stool, and/or sweat, you’d need to take relatively high doses.  Medical literature reports yellowing of the stool when curcumin is taken at doses of around 6 grams per day.  Some users notice a “yellowing effect” at high doses, but report that it lessens and/or completely subsides when they reduce their dosage.

Though a valid scientific explanation for the curcumin-induced “yellowing effect” isn’t available, there is speculation as to what may yield the increase in yellowing.  Yellowing of the sweat and/or skin may be related to IgA antibody binding to vitamin B2 (riboflavin).  Some studies have shown that curcumin can elevate IgA levels in mice (eating high fat diets).

The IgA antibodies are soluble and appear within bodily secretion of saliva, tears, and sometimes sweat.  Once they reach a certain threshold, possibly as a result of high-dose curcumin, medical conditions, and dietary intake – users may notice a yellowing of skin and yellowish sweat.  Obviously in some cases, users simply spill their capsules on their skin and note yellow stains; this differs from yellow secretion/excretion as a result of curcumin-induced IgA elevation.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20354349

Factors that may influence Curcumin side effects

In some cases, users simply cannot tolerate curcumin as a dietary supplement and need to avoid taking it.  In other cases, there may be some viable explanations behind their reported side effects.  If you’re experiencing side effects from curcumin supplementation, consider the factors that may be contributing to the severity and/or number of side effects including: curcumin dosage, co-administered substances, term of administration, metabolism, and source.

  1. Dosage (Low vs. High)

The dosage of your curcumin supplement may have a major impact on whether you’re likely to experience side effects from supplementation.  Many low-dose curcumin users won’t notice any significant side effects, whereas high-dose curcumin users often report at least one or two side effects.  When taking higher doses, there’s more overall curcumin that will undergo metabolism, distribution, and excretion – meaning it has greater influence over your physiology.

For this reason, it may be recommended to take the minimal effective dose.  The minimal effective dose strategy involves starting with a subtherapeutic dose, and gradually titrating upwards until you have side effects.  Once you experience unwanted side effects, you simply lower to the previous dosage at which you experienced no noticeable side effects.

Since lower doses have less influence over physiology, the number and/or severity of side effects is likely to be reduced.  At higher doses, curcumin will have a greater influence over physiologic processes, which inevitably may lead to unwanted side effects.  Those taking supratherapeutic and/or extremely high doses such as 12 grams per day will likely have noticeably more side effects than those taking just 1-2 grams daily.

  1. Term of administration

The duration over which you’ve been taking curcumin may affect whether you’re likely to experience side effects.  Short-term users may be less likely to experience side effects simply because they are taking low doses and/or haven’t taken curcumin long enough to elicit a significant physiologic response.  In other cases, short-term users may report numerous and/or severe initial side effects, but as the body adapts to its effects, these initial side effects may subside.

Some users may notice side effects that are maintained throughout their entire term of supplementing with curcumin.  These side effects may be noticeable from the first day of supplementation and maintained without any change in severity for weeks, months, or years thereafter.  Finally, there are some side effects that may emerge with long-term regular curcumin supplementation.

Certain individuals may take curcumin without any adverse effects for an extended term (e.g. months/years) until they notice some side effects.  Initially they may not suspect that it’s the curcumin, but they may skip doses and realize that these effects subside when they don’t use it.  In some cases, long-term side effects may occur among curcumin users, especially those taking high doses on a daily basis.

  1. Source (Quality)

The particular brand of curcumin supplement that you ingest may dictate whether you experience side effects.  Certain supplement manufacturers hold themselves to higher standards in terms of curcumin sourcing, quality, and overall product.  Purchasing a high-quality curcumin supplement that’s free of impurities and/or potential contaminant agents may reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience side effects.

Less trustworthy supplement manufacturers may simply care about sales rather than a quality product.  Their curcumin sourcing may be poorer and their product may contain impurities and/or miscellaneous, exogenous contaminants.  If a particular company selling curcumin has low standards for quality control and their product, likelihood of experiencing side effects my increase.

For this reason, it is necessary to do your research and only purchase curcumin from supplement companies that you can trust.  If this means paying a bit of extra money simply for quality reputation, it may be smart.  In addition to the company from whom you purchase your curcumin supplement, you’ll want to consider the particular formulation of curcumin being sold to understand whether any ingredients were “added” to the product.

Many curcumin supplements contain bioavailability-enhancers such as bioperine.  Though these additives are thought to maximize the amount of curcumin that elicits a therapeutic effect within the body, it is necessary to consider that these additives may carry side effects of their own.  Unless you’re taking 100% pure curcumin, realize that its difficult to pinpoint whether the side effects can really be chalked up to the curcumin, or whether they’re a result of an additive.

  1. Co-administered drugs/supplements

Though the exact pharmacokinetic profile of curcumin isn’t fully elucidated, it is likely that interactions may occur as a result of co-administered drugs and/or supplements.  If you’re taking other drugs or supplements along curcumin, consider that they may interact, leading to adverse effects.  Furthermore, it is also plausible to consider that the co-administered agents may be the actual culprit for your side effects rather than the curcumin.

Audit the stack of drugs/supplements that you regularly take, consider their respective side effect profiles, and rule out possible interactions with curcumin.  Ideally, this should be done with a medical professional.  If you aren’t taking any other drugs and/or supplements along with curcumin, it is relatively easy to understand that the side effects were from the curcumin, rather than another drug, or an interaction.

Curcumin: Do the benefits outweigh the side effects?

When supplementing with curcumin, it is necessary to ask yourself whether the therapeutic benefits derived from supplementation outweigh any side effects that you’re experiencing.  If you’re taking curcumin and reaping measurable (or hypothetical) health benefits without any side effects, continued usage is likely optimal.  However, if you’re experiencing a boatload of unwanted side effects and no perceptible therapeutic effects, discontinuation is likely your best bet.

Although you may want to take curcumin for its health-promoting effects, it may be necessary to accept that you simply cannot tolerate it.  That said, other individuals may experience a mix of therapeutic benefits and side effects as a result of their supplementation.  If you’re experiencing a noticeable improvement in mood and/or reduction in inflammation, but have some minor stomach aches, these side effects may be worth putting up with.

In the event that side effects are “mild” and benefits are “moderate” and/or “significant” – continued supplementation may be advantageous.  On the other hand, if you’re experiencing a noticeable reduction in inflammation, but also experience severe diarrhea, continued supplementation may not be a practical.  No amount of inflammation reduction is worth sacrificing a majority of your day on the toilet.

For most users, therapeutic effects of curcumin will trump the side effects.  In clinical studies, side effects associated with curcumin supplementation were documented as “mild” and didn’t impair neurological or physical function.  If you’d like help determining whether you should continue curcumin supplementation after experiencing unwanted side effects, consult a medical professional.

Possible ways to reduce Curcumin side effects

Though you may experience some side effects and/or adverse reactions from curcumin supplementation, you may be able to reduce them with mitigation strategies.  Ways to reduce side effects associated with curcumin include: dosage reduction, taking with food, avoiding drug/supplement interactions, giving supplementation more time, and/or testing another brand.

  1. Dosage reduction: Since there aren’t any clear-cut dosage guidelines for curcumin supplementation, individuals may start supplementing at abnormally high dosages. Although high doses may pack a more potent therapeutic punch, they may also pack a more potent side effect punch. If you’re taking a high dose of curcumin, consider cutting it in half until you reach a dose that doesn’t cause unwanted side effects.  You could also start with a low dose, gradually work your way up to a desired dose, and if you experience side effects along the way, drop back down to the lowest dose that didn’t cause side effects.
  2. Divided doses: Some individuals supplementing with curcumin may take a single mega-dose once per day (e.g. 6 grams at breakfast) rather than dividing a large dose into several smaller doses (e.g. 2 grams at breakfast, lunch, and dinner). If you take a mega-dose (e.g. 6+ grams at once), your body may have a difficult time absorbing, metabolizing, and distributing such a large amount of curcumin. It may be overwhelmed with such a large quantity of an exogenous substance that side effects may increase.  Consider dividing your doses up into smaller doses to determine whether side effects decrease.
  3. Take with food: Taking curcumin on an empty stomach increases odds of gastrointestinal irritation, upset stomach, and diarrhea. For this reason, it is recommended to take curcumin supplements only after you’ve had a [filling] meal. There is some controversy as to whether eating prior to taking curcumin may decrease absorption, but a slight decrease in absorption may be a worthy sacrifice as to avoid diarrhea, flatulence, and/or stomach aches.
  4. Avoid drugs/supplements: If you’re taking curcumin along with other drugs and/or supplements, you run the risk of experiencing undocumented interactions. There’s a chance that concomitant ingestion of a particular drug and/or supplement may increase the severity of curcumin-induced side effects. Additionally, if you start taking another drug/supplement at the same time as curcumin, it will be difficult to determine whether the adverse effects were from the curcumin or other substance.
  5. Continue using: New curcumin users may simply need to modify their dosage (usually reduce it) and/or give their body a bit more time to adapt to its effects. In some cases, it may take a few days and/or weeks for the body to gradually adjust to accommodate for exogenous ingestion of curcumin. Just like other drugs/supplements may provoke side effects when you first start taking them, curcumin may be similar.  If side effects are mild, continue using the curcumin for several weeks and consider that side effects may subside.
  6. Test a different brand: If you’ve adjusted dosing, tried to divide the doses, and have ruled out other drugs/supplement interactions, yet are still experiencing side effects, you may want to test another brand. Not all curcumin supplements are formulated the exact same. Some contain a blend of turmeric and curcumin with other curcuminoids and bioavailability-enhancers (e.g. bioperine).  It is possible that you may have an unfavorable interaction to certain concomitant ingredients within a particular supplement.  In other cases, you may have been taking a brand manufacturing curcumin of suboptimal purity and/or laden with contaminants – each of which could’ve caused side effects.
  7. Discontinuation: If you’ve made numerous changes to your dosage, have tried other brands of curcumin, have ruled out potential interactions, etc. – and you’re still experiencing side effects – it may be time to discontinue treatment. Let’s face it, not all people tolerate the same supplements and drugs equally. You may happen to be a rare (canary-in-the-coalmine) individual that is allergic to and/or simply fails to tolerate curcumin supplementation.  In this case, discontinuation may be the only logical option.

Have you experienced Curcumin side effects?

If you’ve taken curcumin and experienced unfavorable side effects and/or adverse reactions, be sure to mention them in the comments section below.  Discuss when you initially noticed the emergence of these side effects after you began supplementing and note their severity (e.g. on a scale of 1 to 10).  To help elucidate the details of your situation, share:

  • Curcumin supplement brand
  • Daily dosage
  • Single dosing vs. divided dosing
  • Whether you took other drugs/supplements
  • Whether you took on an empty stomach or with food

Were the side effects severe enough as to make you discontinue curcumin supplementation?  Realize that despite emerging evidence suggestive of curcumin’s therapeutic properties, no supplement should be considered utopian or a “magic bullet.”  Always listen to your body regardless of what the literature suggests – if you don’t react well to curcumin, it may be a sign to avoid taking it.  If you know of any effective side effect mitigation strategies (besides those mentioned in the article), feel free to share them in your comment.

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46 thoughts on “Curcumin Side Effects & Adverse Reactions (List)”

  1. It seems like people only had problems with taking the supplement. Did anyone have success? Would like to see as many as had bad results have good results. This isn’t good advertising for Curcumin in my opinion. I have read other reports and they did NOT show such things as I read here if one took a proper dose of curcumin and a good company like Terry’s CureMed.

  2. I started taking Spring Valley Turmeric/Curcumin 500 mg 3x/day in July at the recommendation of my doctor. The diarrhea started mid-August with more frequent bowel movements and mild hot flashes. The hot flashes continued to escalate as well as diarrhea/loose stools and undigested food, and this week a horrible skin rash.

    When I saw my acupuncturist this week she advised me to stop taking the turmeric immediately, which led me to do some research this morning. This article listed every single one of my symptoms that seemed at first to come out of nowhere. I’m so relieved at the possibility that simply discontinuing turmeric will restore my body back to normal.

  3. Started taking turmeric for the past 3 days. The first day I felt great. Then I started feeling sick. Anxiety, weak legs. Was having trouble standing and walking. Lower and upper back pain and tiredness. Joint pain and tingling feeling on my legs and feet. Itching on my scalp.

    Blurry vision in the morning. Acid reflux and body chills. I’m not taking it tonight and will see how I feel in the next few days. Started taking it for inflammation and pain.

    The inflammation was getting better but the pain was getting worse plus all the other side effects. I might be detoxing, but it’s crazy. Will keep you updated.

  4. I have done two trials of a new combination Omega-3 and Curcumin pill from Nordic Naturals. Both times, I have experienced increasingly bad arrhythmias, low pulse, and high blood pressure after 3-4 days of two pills per day, and had to quit.

    It seems to be worse when I take this in combination with any other vitamins are minerals (e.g., Vitamin D3). Once I stop, it slowly resolves, but it’s scary enough that I now have a heart monitor for two weeks…

    I thought maybe there was something else causing this, but it’s pretty clear that when I take this particular blended supplement, it causes these symptoms to reappear quickly.

  5. Yes I started taking curcumin about a week ago and I’ve been progressively feeling worse. I’ve had a headache now for three days straight and that’s not common for me. Plus I’ve been having nausea, just an overall unwell feeling, and I have had itching. I will definitely stop taking it.

  6. I came here after doing a search on the side effects of curcumin which I am taking to lower my blood sugar. I have had diarrhea after taking it and yellow pee and stools, so I began to suspect the tablets.

    I don’t want to discontinue as I like to keep my blood sugar low as possible but I might cut the tablets in half from now on. They are 500mg plus B12 and zinc.

    • The b12 is probably giving you the bright yellow colored urine. It is your body excreting the extra b12 that it doesn’t need. :)

  7. I used Organic Turmeric Powder for the first time last night and I think I’m done now. I used it last night at dinner and today my stomach has been bothering me all day long and this evening. I mean right in my stomach, just below my sternum.

    I’ve been jittery and shaky in that area and even shaky in my breasts. My anxiety has been through the roof and I’ve had a few heart palpitations, trying to figure out what’s wrong with me.

    Thank goodness, it lowers blood pressure, otherwise my blood pressure would be super high. I feel so much better, knowing this isn’t just me.

    • Same here! Took it this morning after 2 months of not. Anxiety & jitters a couple hours later. I’m done!!!!! SCARY!!!!

  8. After taking CuraMed – Terry Naturally – I have experienced a modest edema in my legs which I have never had. Will discontinue use and advise the Health Food Store where this was purchased.

  9. Took a curcumin supplement for about three weeks, and I am now a complete mess. Fatigue like I’ve never experienced, muscle weakness, head pressure/sensations, feeling itchy “pins and needles,” sense of taste and smell are diminished, just feel completely off. Stopped taking the supplement about four days ago, but still dealing with the symptoms.

    • My husband and I had been taking this supplement for two weeks. One night my husband asked if there was something wrong with me. I had been napping and not doing things around the house. We discussed it and realized it coincided with starting the cucurmin.

      Stopped it the next day and no nap necessary. I felt muzzy-headed, unmotivated, and incredibly tired. I slept 12 hours one of those nights. Glad I stopped. I have Type II Diabetes so my guess is that my blood sugar was way down.

  10. Mustard has always given me an upset stomach even as a kid, but I didn’t know why. My doctor prescribed turmeric in my 30’s to reduce my inflammation in low doses. I got heartburn so bad even on Nexium. I found out several years later (in my 40’s)I had Celiac Disease and stopped all gluten. Several months without gluten I was able to stop Nexium and had no heartburn.

    Now when I accidentally eat some gluten, I get very sick and can’t even drink water, but can drink Gatorade. It can take days to recover. Turmeric has done the same thing. However, now I can eat one bite of food with turmeric and feel the burn, not always so with gluten. Too bad, it would sure help when I don’t make my food.

  11. Willam, I know you’re a guy but I also experienced the same thing. Took turmeric for about a week it was powder form now I have server leg, anal and vaginal shooting pains now for over a week. It is believed that turmeric can induce menstruation.

  12. I started taking curcumin for about a week to ten days when my stool became dark green, almost black… Any one else experience this? Not sure if it was the curcumin or not but that is the only thing that I had changed.

  13. I tried taking turmeric two times and both times after about two weeks I experienced severe cramping in my thighs. So bad that I could not control my legs. I was taking large doses sprinkled on cut up bananas, chopped walnuts, raw honey and cinnamon and black pepper sprinkled on too.

    The first time, which was 4 years ago I was simply taking a turmeric supplement. This latest bout has convinced me that the severe cramping is related to the turmeric. And it is not a dehydration issue because both times I was well hydrated.

    I do suffer cramps when I don’t drink enough fluids but they are nothing compared to the cramps suffered while taking turmeric. I completely lose ability to function my legs, it is like being paralyzed except there is severe pain.

  14. I have been taking curcumin for a while now. However I swapped brands and dosage to 2x 600mg curcumin with black pepper everyday for over 2 months now, 3 days ago I suddenly felt really sick in stomach, with reflux, extreme fatigue and upper abdominal pain (slight burning sensation), and hiccups/feeling like I need to burp, and no appetite.

    Its weird for me to feel this way, as I am a very healthy person otherwise, and cannot remember the last time I have ever been sick, apart from a mild cold… and I have never not had any appetite.

    So I have been researching what it could be, and when I read some of the above comments, as well as other curcumin side effects over long term use- it sounds to me like it may be the curcumin I have been supplementing with…

    I have since 3 days ago stopped using the tablets, and the symptoms have gotten better today… but are still there… I will keep an eye on it, and keep researching.

  15. I have been taking turmeric for years for achy joints… it works quite well. When I first started using it I had stomach aches, mild but explosive diarrhea and finally blood in my stool. It took me awhile to realize it was the turmeric, but I finally got used to it.

    Now after about 5 years (with no further incidents) later the same symptoms just started up again. The blood is scary. Bright red. Not a lot but several red spots. I guess it is a blood thinner and I do have had gallbladder problems. Maybe this batch is stronger… I am going to back off.

  16. I have been taking Curamin Extra Strength for 4 days and it makes me so sleepy that I have to go to bed for at least an hour and a half in the afternoon. I take one large caplet with each meal, a total of 3 a day. It is helping with my muscle fibromyalgia pain, but being so sleepy keeps me from getting anything done during the day.

  17. I am not sure since I haven’t tried to isolate what’s causing the problem. I’m experiencing hives and my eyelids itch and sting and develop blisters. I am also developing patchy hives around my neck. This started happening after taking curcumin for a couple of months. I started developing arthritis in my fingers and did not want to take drugs.

    The curcumin helps alleviate the inflammation and pain associated with it, but the hives and eyelid itching and blistering which started occurring 3 weeks ago is becoming intolerable. I am going to attempt to isolate the problem since I am also taking other supplements – fish oil, Lysine, calcium and Super B. Will keep everyone posted.

  18. I started taking curcumin about a week or ten days ago. My anxiety was very well controlled at the time. I’m now having terrible anxiety and a flare up of PVCs. I guess it’s not for me… very disappointed. I’m glad I found this forum. Most everyone rave about the lack of side effects so I wasn’t sure what was going on.

  19. I don’t understand why people are taking supplements rather than natural turmeric. Why waste money? However, I have noticed slight side effects such as more frequent bowel movements, increased flatulence and slight headaches since taking a cup of golden milk containing 1 teaspoon of turmeric paste each day for only two days. This was extra to the small amounts of ground turmeric that I have been adding to my meals for some weeks, without any noticeable side effects.

  20. I took Ultra Nutrition Ultra Turmeric Curcumin with piperine for 3 days. It is a liquid extract. I took it for 2 days with coconut oil. About 2 to 3 hours later I got extremely tired, nauseous, not feeling well, and after having to go to bed for a few hours, a headache. The third day I tried it without the coconut oil, it was worse, with nightmares. I took only about one quarter dose once a day of about 180 mg.

  21. I have migraines. I was at a friend’s place one night, and I had one. They suggested I take turmeric, so I did. My migraine got so bad, that I vomited, which hasn’t happened since my first migraine, 17 years ago. Since that I stayed away from it. However, I have herniated discs in my back from a car accident, and I have had chronic pain for two years.

    After a lot of tests and treatment, I discovered that I have some inflammation and that taking Aleve once every couple of days helps me tremendously. In addition, I went through an entire month without a migraine. I usually have two hormonal migraines a month. I was so happy and I have been feeling amazing. Then when I was at the chiropractor, she expressed displeasure that I am taking Aleve and told me to take turmeric.

    I felt hesitant, due to my previous experience, but I thought I would try it. I felt like I had the flu a couple of hours after, I had to get into bed. And I slowly started to get the migraine that had so nicely seemed to stay away. I have had the migraine for three days now. I think I am one of the people who react adversely to turmeric.

    • I also get worse migraines from turmeric. My ND was insisting it would be good for my headaches, but over time it messed with my hormones making things worse. A curcumin pain pill made a headache excruciatingly worse, so then I knew. I’ve been off of it for a year and had curry one night and woke up with a migraine. All these sites promoting herbs are trying to sell you stuff. Herbs are like drugs and not to be taken casually, I think.

  22. I think people taking 2000mg+ of turmeric per day in supplements are insane. WTF are you hoping to accomplish? I’ve been taking 500mg per day, after about a week I started getting stomach pain. I then started taking the pill with dinner and not with breakfast, then the stomach pain stopped. When I also got my hands on piperine (30mg / day), I could have it with breakfast again without any stomach pain.

  23. It improved my mood and cognitive functions. But after a couple days it made me anxious and irritable. I only took 1 tablet of Source Naturals Turmeric Extract per day, which contains 333 mg curcumin.

  24. I have only been taking Turmeric 3D for three days. It is a fermented brand of curcumin mixed with ashwagandha and organic turkey tail mushroom… also fermented. It’s supposed to be the best of the best. I have had extreme stomach cramping, diarrhea, and now I seem to be constipated with lower abdominal cramping… I’m miserable. I will not be taking this product any longer. I have seriously been hurting so bad that I’ve contemplated a doctor visit.

  25. Took first 750 mg pill of BCM95 curcumin yesterday and am completely dysfunctional today with severe persistent dizziness and slight nausea. I’d brought my CRP down from 104 to about 8 over 15 months and thought this might bring it down to the desired 3 or less. Damn! Thought I might have something here.

  26. I have heart palpitations every time I take curcumin 95% in a dose of 1 g (2 pills 500 mg each). I’ve confirmed it to myself multiple times. It takes about 4-5 hours after ingestion for afib to occur but it is very unpleasant. It is a pity as it works well for me as an anti-inflammatory agent but only at a higher dose of about 2 g a day. I am having heart palps as I write, having once again taken curcumin in a hope that I won’t get palps. I guess I’ll stick to boswellia. It works well for me too. Time to take out my gaba caps to calm my heart palps.

    • I had palpitations and flutters after 6 days. I went to my primary doctor and a cardiologist. Then last night I started thinking, “Could Curcumin be the culprit???” Most of what I’ve read about curcumin is very positive but in general I don’t seem to do well with supplements.

    • Same situation here. I have been growing my own turmeric (I retired in the tropics) and have used it for food sparingly for the past 3 years. However, I recently started experimenting with a strong turmeric tea whose adsorption was purportedly increased by adding a pinch of black pepper, and… whoa! That hit me like a street drug. Plenty of palpitations and difficulty breathing at night. I guess I will go back to the old adage that all excesses are bad.

      • YES!!! These posts are saving my sanity! I have been taking Protandim NRF 1 and NRF 2 since March 1 and am MISERABLE. The heart palpitations are debilitating, as are the leg cramps.

        I feel like I can barely get through a work day! I was assured my body was simply detoxing, but I’ve concluded that my body simply hates turmeric. I’ve had other negative experiences with golden milk and a product with turmeric, MSM, and Vit. C. My eyes feel blurry, I get dizzy, and I feel weak.

  27. Had been taking 3600mg/day for 2 weeks. Then suddenly one night I began to get the chills and a general malaise. Then the stomach felt sick. Then stomach pain and gas and burping. Sour stomach/acid tummy too. I probably would have had diarrhea, but I was on a drug that constipates me. Itching under breasts started. This all went on for 6 days, I think I had stopped my supplements because I felt so bad.

    Then I was feeling better but still had some tummy pain and itching. Started taking supplements again, then about in 8 days the chills and above symptoms started again. My ND who has me taking the Curcumin did not even think of it when I came to see him just two days ago. I found this article and everything became clear!

    I also called the manufacturer of the product and they said if there were any side effects from high dose, that they would be gastrointestinal! I emailed my ND today telling him my discovery and he said something about if you have an allergy to aspirin that you may have this reaction to curcumin. He said the literature is split on the possible side effects of curcumin at high doses.

    Trying to cover his ass. I love doctors of all types. Wish they would really educate themselves on all aspects of supplements. Grrr.

  28. I am 72 years old and live alone. I swear I will never swallow Curcumin again because I truly nearly died! I had purchased a non-organic brand from India (company name: HerbaDiet) and had been using it, mixed in coconut oil, to massage my gums because I had read that this was an amazing cure for gum disease. I had no problem until I decided to swallow the mixture.

    I thought this would be easier because the Curcumin badly stained my wash bowl every time I spat it out, and it was difficult to remove without bleach. I did this for two days only and after the first day I experienced the most excruciating stomach pains that came continuously like waves, and I began vomiting like there was no tomorrow. Not realising it was the Curcumin that was causing this effect, I continued for a second day when I experienced even more stomach pain and more vomiting.

    I stopped the Curcumin but the pains and vomiting continued for more than a week. From the way I was feeling, I felt that death would be a better option… seriously! Not only this, but I had no energy whatsoever. Bottom line: Because of all the vomiting I became severely dehydrated and could barely stand without feeling I was going to pass out. I was so scared that I eventually called an ambulance and was rushed to A&E. My heart was racing at double its normal speed along with arrhythmia, and my blood pressure was almost zero.

    I was put on a drip and, thankfully, began to recover. Sorry to have rambled, but I feel it is important for people to understand the effects that Curcumin can produce on some of us. I have since read that Curcumin (I think specifically from that grown in India) contains some serious heavy metals which come with their own side effects.

    P.S. I was using Curcumin on an empty stomach which obviously didn’t help matters.

  29. I tried it for two weeks. I had to stop taking it and so far within the last 72 hours I am finally improving from the havoc the curcumin wreaked over me. Bloating, diarrhea, major acid coming up as if I had reflux or ulcer, which I do not have, I had immense pain in the lower gastrointestinal tract, so much so that eventually I felt like all my organs were moving and I could barely have a bowel movement as I could not push without pain.

    I thought there was something major going on with my uterus or ovaries area as the pain and awkwardness, was so intense I could not sit or walk comfortably. I got dizzy and lightheaded, I am already low in iron, so this actually made me worse and I had to take more iron on a daily basis. The good thing was that my symptoms and reactions to foods that I had sensitivities with, went away.

    I felt better in some ways, the inflammation and circulation changes improved drastically with this product. Which is the real bummer. But unfortunately I was in such awkward discomfort and much pain with all these side effects, I have had to stop. I may try again later with 250mg to see if this works…at this point. Since I am still recovering from the side effects of the curcumin that are thankfully going away now… I am not sure when I will start again.

  30. I took turmeric for about a week (I believe it had the black pepper concentrate added to it) and developed a red, itchy rash over all of my body. The rash lasted for about a week. My dermatologist said it was a drug rash. I really would like to try turmeric or curcumin because I could use the inflammation benefits but I am afraid to try again; the one I bought was from VitaCost and may not have been a good brand.

  31. I’ve been taking 500 mg/day Curcumin Jarrow Formula – which is supposedly a good brand, in a single dose and on an empty stomach. I also took 10 mg of Bioperine, as Jarrow’s formula didn’t contain any. After approximately a month and a week, in which time my constipation has gradually increased, I developed quite bad hemorrhoids, so I stopped taking it.

    After a 3 month break I started taking it again, only to find myself even more constipated and bloated like never before, so I gathered it must have been the curcumin. It’s funny if you consider that I’ve taking it for this exact problem, i.e. gastrointestinal problems, as I suffer from IBS…

  32. Experiencing acute tummy ache and lots of bowel movements. I am taking 2 – 600mg capsules at breakfast time before my meal.

  33. I have been taking turmeric for about two months now and I suffer from IBS. I started taking it to help my immune system because I have a lot of leg pain. I have started getting nosebleeds which I have never had in my life also bad tummy pain. Could this be due to turmeric? I am 88 years old.

  34. I am wondering if it could cause night sweats. My doctor sees no reason for my having the sweats. No real bad sweats that soak the sheets and gown, however.

  35. My wife and I took turmeric and curcumin for about 6 months. After about 3 months we both noticed that things began to have a pungent or musk smell. Then our taste was affected. It’s terrible. The only thing we can connect it to is the turmeric and curcumin vitamins we were taking.

    We no longer take these vitamins but we continue to experience the horrible smell and taste, although it is lessening a little. Have you heard of this smell and taste connection to turmeric and curcumin before. I look forward to your reply. Thank you. K


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