Answer:

Although curcumin (from turmeric) has been shown in clinical studies to improve symptoms of indigestion and ulcerative colitis, it is true that it a small percentage of people may experience nausea, diarrhea and mild stomach distress, especially when taking high doses for prolonged periods of time. This and other concerns are discussed in the Turmeric and Curcumin Supplements Review, which includes details about dose, side-effects, tips for taking curcumin and turmeric supplements, as well as ConsumerLab.com’s tests of products. Also see the article about on Turmeric in our Encyclopedia.

Be aware that curcumin and turmeric should be avoided by people with gallstones or gallbladder disease, as these can stimulate the gallbladder.

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7 Comments

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Juli8188
December 16, 2015

Isn't that odd? I noticed, totally by accident, that taking turmeric actually made my stomach feel much better. I originally purchased it for its anti-inflammatory, arthritis type benefits. As a bonus, I rarely have indigestion. If I do, peppermint tea is hands-down the best thing I've ever found for it. Again, a discovery by accident.

Lawrence8194
December 20, 2015

It might all be in the dose. You say you take tumeric. Is that pure encapsulated spice or highly concentrated curcumin extract? There can be an enormous difference.

Bev16845
May 16, 2018

Would love to hear you expound on that. I have osteoarthritis, and I've been wondering if taking tumeric could help, but don't know how to start taking it.

anita8187
December 16, 2015

I started taking curcumin a few weeks ago & noticed a burning in my stomach (I took 3 a day spaced out throughout the day) & also when I went to the bathroom. Cut it down to 2 a day & the stomach acid stopped but I noticed it is harder to move my bowels & still have the bowel irritation. I have been a vegetarian for over 35 years & never have been constipated because of my high fiber diet.. I checked my bottle & it does have the black pepper extract. I normally spice my food with black pepper often as I don't eat salt & have never had a problem.
I have minor arthritic problems with age (66) so I thought I'd try it. But now that I read that others are experiencing similar issues I know it is from the supplement. I have never had any G.I tract issues before Mine has rice powder, magnesium stearate& black pepper extract.

Trudy8671
May 4, 2016

I had the same problem, intense burning in my stomach and throat. I took turmeric supplement without black pepper, 400 mg, 3 per day with meals. I stopped taking the supplements and the burning stopped. I had my gall bladder removed many years ago. I don't know it that has anything to do with it.

Lydia12846
March 23, 2017

After 1 year of Turmeric supplements my stomach burned et I had constant desire to pee. I stopped completely and I did an ultrasound. We found gallstones. I stopped Turmeric and everything became normal again.

Patricia6927
September 7, 2015

I am surprised that fillers, capsules, and other ingredients that are not on the 'active' list are not considered when trying to find the cause of adverse reactions to medications and supplements. I have numerous health issues and my negative reactions have all come from those components and not the 'active' ingredient themselves. Not a medical professional just by experience of health issues for 20 years.

l.8104
November 29, 2015

Thanks for this comment. I agree that some of the "other" ingredients are very irritating. I look for supplements that have none or as few as possible, and that don't contain GMO ingredients like maltodextrin (usually from GMO corn).

Catherine13919
April 16, 2017

Yes, very good point. I'll add one example that I'm aware of - this individual had taken lithium in the past with good results but with a new prescription had a horrible reaction - sorry I don't recall the specifics. Initially his reports were dismissed but he stopped taking the drug and experienced a relapse. Finally it came to light somehow that it was the red dye in the generic version he had been taking that was the culprit and he did fine with another brand. I've noticed myself that pharmacies frequently change drug suppliers of generics - probably due to cost & other factors. But if you suddenly get a reaction to something and think it's not your medicine because you've been taking it for years, take note whether the manufacturer has recently changed.

Asher18729
December 13, 2019

For one year long I’ve been tried different Curcumin formulations, It’s includes BCM-95, C3 Complex, Meriva (2 Different brands), CurQFen, All of them except Meriva of one brand gave me stomach side effects (bloated, constipated, diarrhea, abs pain), I’ve been tried them all because I had successful treatment of my anxiety issues includes muscle pains with C3 complex, I also got very good results with CurQFen, Unfortunately I had to stop Curcumin in my regimen because this side effects on my digestive system :(.

Sue19331
April 8, 2020

I wonder if it's the black pepper? I didn't know how to take turmeric either. I buy it in the powder form...the whole food.

David1706
May 6, 2015

Some people are sensitive to black and white pepper, and many curcumin supplements have a pepper extract added to them (called bioperine) which enhances their absorption. So it might not be the curcumin itself causing the irritation. Check the label.

l.8111
November 30, 2015

i was not talking about curcumin or other "main" ingredients. information on whether or not those are irritating/harmful will be a lot easier to find than the
excipients, fillers and other additives that have nothing at all do to with the main ingredients or particular formula.

those insidious "other ingredients" are what i was talking about, and that i believe patricia is talking about. people who take a lot of supplements (or medicines) may be ingesting quite a lot of these fillers and binders.

"new school" supplement makers are making cleaner supplements and i support them.

Marilyn 8112
November 30, 2015

Does anyone know who these "new school" makers might be? The Swanson supplements I take have too many fillers, but I don't know which ones do not.

Arch11524
December 26, 2016

A lot of capsules are "0" size. The amount of active ingredients could fit in tiny capsules often. I wonder why they are not used. Are the excipients necessary for some reason?

ConsumerLab.com
January 1, 2017

Hi Arch - Please see this CL Answer for more about excipients: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/_/inactive-ingredients-excipients/

Arch11545
January 1, 2017

Instead of putting a few micrograms in a size 0 capsule, couldn't much smaller capsules be used, like #3 or #4? There would still be a lot fo room for excipients.

ConsumerLab.com
January 5, 2017

Hi Arch - We agree that the smallest possible size should ideally be used by manufacturers, as that makes pills easier to swallow. A possible reason why some capsules are larger than their contents (other than due to settling) is economic, i.e., it can be it is less expensive for a manufacturer to stick with common sizes. We have heard that contract manufacturers, for example, run only particular capsule sizes and charge if they have to break down the machines, change the settings, and load different capsule sizes.

Tony16459
February 16, 2018

When I was using the c3 form of curcumin with bioperine I had gallstone pain and had to stop using it. I was very careful with turmeric/curcumin after that, though I had a feeling that the piperine might have made it worse. I finally decided to try the Meriva extract, and so far I haven't had any gallbladder issues with it, so I think my intuition was right. I'm not considering trying the Longvida form, though I'm pretty happy with Meriva, so far. Just for anyone else who might have had issues with Curcumin, it might be worth trying another form (Meriva, in particular).

Valerie16852
May 20, 2018

Hi Tony,

Are you still using the Meriva product successfully? I have gastritis and have to be cautious about what I take due to stomach burning, etc. Which product are you using - would you share the name?

Thanks!

F Elaine17075
August 19, 2018

Meriva is the brand name!

ConsumerLab.com
August 19, 2018

Meriva is the name of a specific curcumin formulation, but it can be found as an ingredient in several different brands of curcumin supplements -- please see the "Absorption and Bioavailability" section of the Turmeric and Curcumin Review for more information and supplement brands that contain Meriva: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/turmeric-curcumin-supplements-spice-review/turmeric/#meriva

Jocelyn16923
July 1, 2018

I have taken Natural Factors turmeric and bromelain for my osteoarthritis for many years and I find it very effective at reducing pain and swelling in my arthritic joints when they become inflamed. About two years ago I switched to a Whole Foods brand turmeric with black pepper extract. I started noticing that I got stomach aches from hxxx in the middle of the night. Eventually I had to stop taking the turmeric. It was only after several months of no turmeric that I realized the stomach aches started with the new variety of turmeric capsules. Since then I have gone back to my Natural Factors turmeric and bromelain with good effect. I guess I can't tolerate the black pepper extract.

Soner13921
April 17, 2017

Hi all. To my yoghurt, I add one or 2 pinches of ground Schwartze turmeric and ground Schwartze black pepper together with 1/2 tsp olive oil plus about 3/4 tsp of groind flaxseeds and some cucumber. It tastes nice. Sometimes I add a little amount of stevia in powder form if I prefer it to be a bit sweet. I am 73 years old. I have osteoporosis. The recipe I gave is claimed to help for brain health too.

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