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Turmeric is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list, and curcumin, too, is believed to be fairly nontoxic. 1 Reported side effects are uncommon and are generally limited to mild stomach distress.
However, there is some evidence to suggest that turmeric extracts can be toxic to the liver when taken in high doses or for a prolonged period of time. 2 For this reason, turmeric products should probably be avoided by individuals with liver disease and those who take medications that are hard on the liver.
In addition, due to curcumin's stimulating effects on the gallbladder, individuals with gallbladder disease should use curcumin only on the advice of a physician. However, safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, and those with severe kidney disease have also not been established.
- Ammon HPT, Wahl MA. Pharmacology of Curcuma longa. Planta Med. 1991;57:1-7.
- Deshpande SS, Lalitha VS, Ingle AD, Raste AS, Gadre SG, Maru GB. Subchronic oral toxicity of turmeric and ethanolic turmeric extract in female mice and rats. Toxicol Lett. 95(3):183-93.