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BlogHealthWhy is Turmeric Bad for Weight Loss: 3 Reasons to Consider

Why is Turmeric Bad for Weight Loss: 3 Reasons to Consider

5 mins read
Isobel Krüger
Written by Isobel Krüger
Isobel Krüger

Written by Isobel Krüger

Isobel is a health and fitness writer, and also a health and fitness fanatic in real life. She loves researching the latest health and fitness topics and trends that can make life healthier, happier, and easier.

on December 17, 2022
Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Ievgeniia Dobrynina is the Head of Nutrition and a fact checker at Unimeal.

The Unimeal team works to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information. All texts are reviewed by a panel of experts and editors and updated according to the latest research. Only evidenced-based and verified sources of leading medical publications and universities get into the article materials.

Exploring additional ways to support a weight loss goal is always interesting, especially when you see new hacks and trendy advice from lifestyle bloggers and influencers. Weight loss supplement options are endless, but they can be full of unwanted additives and have lists of side effects. The best is to consult your doctor before implementing something new into your diet. 

Table of content

We've decided to find the science behind the turmeric hype and whether this spice is a magic bullet for weight loss or just another online marketing trick. 

What is Turmeric (Curcumin)?

Turmeric, or The Golden Spice, is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Apart from being a top option for creating aromatic dishes, this versatile spice has also been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Ayurveda is traditional Indian medicine based on the concept that disease is caused by stress or an imbalance in someone's consciousness.Turmeric resembles ginger root, with a light brown outer skin and yellow flesh. We mostly use turmeric in a powdered form for cooking; however, the spice contains a compound called curcumin that has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it popular in Ayurvedic healing.1Rahmani AH, Alsahli MA, Aly SM, Khan MA, Aldebasi YH. February, 2018. Role of Curcumin in Disease Prevention and Treatment. Adv Biomed Res. DOI:10.4103/abr.abr_147_16  

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Does turmeric help with weight loss?

As with many health issues, unhealthy weight gain also occurs due to untreated inflammation. Turmeric contains over 230 active compounds, but research on turmeric, specifically the compound curcumin, indicates that this compound's anti-inflammatory properties can lower inflammation in the body, resulting in weight loss. 

For example, test-tube studies suggest that curcumin can suppress specific inflammatory markers that are elevated in people experiencing weight gain and obesity.3Bradford PG. February, 2013. Curcumin and obesity. Biofactors. DOI:10.1002/biof.1074

Another 30-day study of 44 people with weight issues concluded that taking 800mg of curcumin combined with 8mg of piperine twice daily helps reduce body weight and BMI and results in lower waist circumference.4Di Pierro F, Bressan A, Ranaldi D, Rapacioli G, Giacomelli L, Bertuccioli A. November, 2015. Potential role of bioavailable curcumin in weight loss and omental adipose tissue decrease: preliminary data of a randomized, controlled trial in overweight people with metabolic syndrome. Preliminary study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. PMID:26592847

These studies show positive results when using turmeric, or the compound curcumin, specifically for weight loss. However, not many studies or trials have been conducted, so ultimately, more solid evidence is needed before curcumin can be recommended as a weight loss supplement.2Kunnumakkara AB, Bordoloi D, Padmavathi G, Monisha J, Roy NK, Prasad S, Aggarwal BB. June, 2017. Curcumin, the golden nutraceutical: multitargeting for multiple chronic diseases. Br J Pharmacol. DOI:10.1111/bph.13621

Is Turmeric good for weight loss?
Is Turmeric good for weight loss?

If you're considering turmeric as a weight-loss aid, it's essential to keep in mind that this supplement also has possible adverse effects. 

1. It interacts with certain medications

Take a closer look at these common medications, as they don't interact very well with turmeric supplements:

  • Blood-thinning medications like Asprin and Heparin should not be combined with turmeric supplements to ensure healthy coagulation and clotting. 
  • Blood sugar-lowering medications combined with turmeric supplements can cause your blood sugar to drop way too low. 
  • Be cautious using drugs that reduce stomach acid, like Zantac, Pepcid, and Prilosec. Turmeric naturally normalizes stomach acid, which can lead to complications if you're already using medication.5Bahramsoltani R, Rahimi R, Farzaei MH. Pharmacokinetic interactions of curcuminoids with conventional drugs: A review. September, 2017. J Ethnopharmacol. DOI:10.1016/j.jep.2017.07.022

2. Studies on the efficacy of turmeric are inconclusive

Although some studies on turmeric show promising weight loss-promoting results, more investigation is required. Researchers need to look at all role-playing factors and the effects of long-term use before curcumin can be cleared as a safe weight-loss tool.

For example, the test-tube study shows great potential, but at the same time, taking turmeric as a supplement can also have adverse effects if you're on specific medication like blood thinners.

3. It's not a long-term weight-loss solution

Taking supplements for weight loss is not a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off in the long term. Some supplements are great for kick-starting your weight loss journey, but you ultimately need to make other changes, including your diet, portion control, and your relationship with food. 

Taking something safe to accelerate your results is fine, but weight-loss should also be a mental shift to achieve long-term results. 

Turmeric is not good for weight loss if you're in certain medications, and overall safety tests are inconclusive
Turmeric is not good for weight loss if you're in certain medications, and overall safety tests are inconclusive

Side effects

Some studies' findings suggest that you can take up to 12 grams of curcumin on a daily basis for short periods if you're not on any of the medications listed above. However, studies about the risks and results of long-term use are needed to provide more clarity.  

 Some individuals taking high doses of curcumin can suffer adverse effects and allergic reactions, including skin rash, constipation, nausea, vomiting, stomach aches, and diarrhea.6Lao CD, Ruffin MT 4th, Normolle D, Heath DD, Murray SI, Bailey JM, Boggs ME, Crowell J, Rock CL, Brenner DE. March, 2006. Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation. BMC Complement Altern Med. DOI:10.1186/1472-6882-6-10 Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid curcumin supplements as they have not been cleared for safety in these conditions. 

If you suffer from one of the following disorders, taking curcumin as a weight loss supplement is a bad idea: 

Side effects of turmeric include nausea, skin rash, diarrhea, and stomach aches.
Side effects of turmeric include nausea, skin rash, diarrhea, and stomach aches.

When and how to take turmeric

If you are healthy, not on any blood-thinning or diabetic medications, and you're not currently pregnant or breastfeeding, taking a modest dose of curcumin can be harmless. Make sure to visit your doctor and discuss your decision with them first before you start taking it. 

The body does not have a high absorption tolerance for turmeric, so a compound named piperine is added to boost absorption by up to 2 000%. Piperine is found in black pepper, and only a tiny amount is required to help the body absorb more curcumin.11Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. October, 2017. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. DOI:10.3390/foods6100092 Thus, look for a turmeric supplement that contains piperine to boost absorption. 

Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Expert comment

Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Ievgeniia Dobrynina is the Head of Nutrition and a fact checker at Unimeal.

, Head of Nutrition at Unimeal

Curcumin is indeed a very useful supplement, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also used in the complex prevention of cancer. At the same time, all statements that turmeric speeds up metabolism and helps break down / remove fats from the body are myths. Only one thing helps to lose weight: a negative balance between consumed and expended calories. That's it! There are no magic pills or products. You can add turmeric to your meals as any other spice, but don't rely on it as a weight loss panacea or consider it a health problem shooter. It is just a helper, one among many useful products. To maintain general immunity and prevent different diseases, use turmeric diluted in water – there will be no worse.

Another way you can help your body boost curcumin absorption is by taking it with a healthy fat. As a rule of thumb, make sure you take curcumin supplements with meals, but also focus on adding healthy fats like coconut oil, full-fat dairy, or almond milk.12Dei Cas M, Ghidoni R. September, 2019. Dietary Curcumin: Correlation between Bioavailability and Health Potential. Nutrients DOI:10.3390/nu11092147

Take turmeric with Piperine and healthy fats
Take turmeric with Piperine and healthy fats

Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

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1.
Rahmani AH, Alsahli MA, Aly SM, Khan MA, Aldebasi YH. February, 2018. Role of Curcumin in Disease Prevention and Treatment. Adv Biomed Res. DOI:10.4103/abr.abr_147_16
2.
Kunnumakkara AB, Bordoloi D, Padmavathi G, Monisha J, Roy NK, Prasad S, Aggarwal BB. June, 2017. Curcumin, the golden nutraceutical: multitargeting for multiple chronic diseases. Br J Pharmacol. DOI:10.1111/bph.13621
3.
Bradford PG. February, 2013. Curcumin and obesity. Biofactors. DOI:10.1002/biof.1074
5.
Bahramsoltani R, Rahimi R, Farzaei MH. Pharmacokinetic interactions of curcuminoids with conventional drugs: A review. September, 2017. J Ethnopharmacol. DOI:10.1016/j.jep.2017.07.022
6.
Lao CD, Ruffin MT 4th, Normolle D, Heath DD, Murray SI, Bailey JM, Boggs ME, Crowell J, Rock CL, Brenner DE. March, 2006. Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation. BMC Complement Altern Med. DOI:10.1186/1472-6882-6-10
7.
Kim DC, Ku SK, Bae JS. April, 2012. Anticoagulant activities of curcumin and its derivative. BMB Rep. DOI:10.5483/bmbrep.2012.45.4.221
8.
Neerati P, Devde R, Gangi AK. December, 2017. Evaluation of the effect of curcumin capsules on glyburide therapy in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus. Phytother Res. DOI:10.1002/ptr.5201
9.
Tuntipopipat S, Zeder C, Siriprapa P, Charoenkiatkul S. 2009. Inhibitory effects of spices and herbs on iron availability. Int J Food Sci Nutr. DOI:10.1080/09637480802084844
10.
Tang M, Larson-Meyer DE, Liebman M. May, 2008. Effect of cinnamon and turmeric on urinary oxalate excretion, plasma lipids, and plasma glucose in healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. DOI:10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1262
11.
Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. October, 2017. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. DOI:10.3390/foods6100092
12.
Dei Cas M, Ghidoni R. September, 2019. Dietary Curcumin: Correlation between Bioavailability and Health Potential. Nutrients DOI:10.3390/nu11092147