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Turmeric (Curcumin) for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Updated September 28, 2012

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The curry spice turmeric may help alleviate some symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and common comorbid conditions

Lilli Day/Getty Images

Health Benefits of Turmeric/Curcumin:

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that's frequently found in curry-spice blends. The root, related to ginger, is popular in Indian, Thai and Moroccan cuisines, and it's also long been used in traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicine.

Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which research suggests may offer several health benefits that could help alleviate symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Up until now, though, no studies have examined it specifically for these conditions.

While we do have some research on turmeric/curcumin, more studies need to be done to nail down exactly what it can do for us. The spice is believed to be an:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-viral
  • Digestive aid
  • Topical antiseptic

It's been used as a treatment for multiple ailments, including:

Turmeric/Curcumin Dosage:

When taken as a supplement, the typical dose of curcumin is between 450 milligrams and 3 grams daily. Optimal doses for specific uses haven't been well-established by research.

Turmeric can also be brewed into a tea by steeping 1-1.5 grams of the dried root for 15 minutes, twice a day.

Turmeric/Curcumin in Your Diet:

Adding curcumin to your diet, through turmeric, is fairly simple. However, it may be difficult to get a therapeutic dosage through diet alone. In India, where turmeric is used in a lot of traditional foods, average dietary intake is estimated to be between 60 and 200 milligrams per day.

The About.com Food Channel can help you learn to cook with turmeric:

Side Effects of Turmeric/Curcumin:

Studies have shown that turmeric/curcumin may cause some side effects, including:

  • Upset stomach
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Hair loss (in animal studies)
  • Lowered blood pressure (in animal studies)
  • Increased risk of kidney stones in people prone to them

Curcumin's safety hasn't been established for children.

Caution is urged when consuming turmeric during pregnancy, because of the possibility that it may stimulate the uterus and lead to menstrual-type bleeding.

Any time you're considering a new supplement, you should discuss it with your doctor and pharmacy to make sure you're not creating any dangerous interactions or other problems.

More Supplement Information:

Sources:

Bhandarkar SS, Arbiser JL. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:185-195. Curcumin as an inhibitor of angiogenesis.

Brouet I, Ohshima H. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1995;206(2):533-540. Curcumin, an anti-tumour promoter and anti-inflammatory agent, inhibits induction of nitric oxide synthase in activated macrophages.

Cheng AL, Hsu CH, Lin JK, et al. Anticancer Res. 2001;21(4B):2895-2900. Phase I clinical trial of curcumin, a chemopreventive agent, in patients with high-risk or pre-malignant lesions.

Lal B, et al. Phytother Res. 2000;14(6):443-447. Role of curcumin in idiopathic inflammatory orbital pseudotumours.

Perkins S, Verschoyle RD, Hill K, et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002;11(6):535-540. Chemopreventive efficacy and pharmacokinetics of curcumin in the min/+ mouse, a model of familial adenomatous polyposis.

Rivera-Espinoza Y, Muriel P. Liver Int. 2009 Nov;29(10):1457-66. Pharmacological actions of curcumin in liver diseases or damage.

Sharma RA, Gescher AJ, Steward WP. Eur J Cancer. 2005;41(13):1955-1968. Curcumin: The story so far.

Sreejayan, Rao MN. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1997;49(1):105-107. Nitric oxide scavenging by curcuminoids.

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