Healthy adults should be able to use turmeric safely as a spice in food. However, turmeric might be harmful to women who are pregnant and people with conditions such as gall bladder disease, bleeding disorders, diabetes and hypoglycemia. Too much turmeric can cause stomach upset or heartburn. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't closely monitor or regulate the strength, safety, purity or effectiveness of herbs and supplements. Therefore, you should exercise care and consult with your healthcare provider before using curcumin medicinally [source: MedlinePlus].
Foods with Curcumin
You've probably consumed some food item containing curcumin at some point, even if you've never heard of it. If you've ever eaten a hot dog with mustard, you've likely had it -- it gives mustard its tang and familiar yellow color. Also, if you check the labels on pickles and other products with preservatives, and you'll likely find curcumin listed as its common name: turmeric. Curcumin also provides color for many foods, including dairy products, cereals, fruit and vegetable items, candy, soups, and fats and oils [source: Stankovic].
Curcumin is also found in many Asian dishes. If you've eaten curry, you've had curcumin. The turmeric you find in the spice section on your grocer's shelf probably contains about 3 to 5 percent curcumin [source: American Cancer Society].
If you want to try out curcumin's potential health benefits for yourself, start by adding a little turmeric or curry to your food more often. In doing so, you might want to consider the typical turmeric intake in India. The average resident of India is estimated to consume between 0.07 to 0.09 ounces (2 to 2.5 grams) of turmeric daily. This is 0.002 to 0.007 ounces of curcumin (60 to 200 milligrams) a day [source: MedlinePlus].
There is much discussion about curcumin's benefits for skin. It has been made into a salve to relieve certain skin conditions and wounds [source: American Cancer Society]. The best way to get its benefits for skin is probably to apply it topically instead of consuming it orally. However, extensive use of turmeric carries the risk of possible skin rashes and irritation.
Traditional and alternative medicine's interest in curcumin's healing properties is strong, and ongoing research may be able to conclusively determine curcumin's benefits for skin conditions in the near future. For more information on this herbal ingredient and its possible benefits, visit the links on the next page.