Fact-check: Turmeric supplements can induce liver injury

Fact-check: Turmeric supplements can induce liver injury

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Turmeric supplements

While curcumin generally exhibits safe metabolism and low toxicity among humans, unregulated supplement use can lead to harmful side-effects. 

Curcumin, the biologically active component in turmeric, has been revered for its health benefits in different cultures. Widely used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and cardio protective agent, turmeric has acquired the moniker “wonder drug of the world”. This has, in turn, led to the worldwide popularity of turmeric supplements over the years. 

However, not many are aware that turmeric supplements can induce liver injury. While curcumin absorbed from pure turmeric is virtually harmless, even if the acceptable daily intake is exceeded, curcumin from turmeric supplements can lead to liver injury. The risk is higher for people with pre-existing liver conditions.

Curcumin is generally regarded as safe as it exhibits safe metabolism and low toxicity among humans. That said, some side-effects have been reported among individuals who received doses of 500-12,000 mg of curcumin; these include diarrhoea, headache, rash, and yellow stools. The above observations were corroborated by the Australian government’s Department of health and Aged Care’s 2023 advisory. According to the advisory, there is a rare risk of liver injury from consumption of curcumin as a medicine.

This liver-injuring potential of turmeric supplements is due to the high bioavailability of curcumin. Turmeric supplements often include piperine (black pepper extract), which can substantially enhance its bioavailability. The risks of unregulated supplement use are sadly overlooked. 

It's important to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before you start taking any herbal or dietary supplements. Make informed health decisions. 

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