Confused by conflicting information about dosage and method for turmeric? You are not alone. It’s one of the most asked questions I received in the past from my readers. Dosage really depends on your goal, whether for a particular health problem or for maintenance.
How: Always with fresh ground black pepper (see below why) and some fat or oil as it is lipophilic (oil soluble). I use coconut oil. For optimal absorption, always take it with food.
How much: For adults the official recommendation is up to 1.5 g. daily which will be about one very slightly rounded teaspoon which can be divided over two to three doses daily. Therapeutic doses are considered to be 2-3 g. See cautions below. Not recommended for small children under two. For older children and those over 65, start with a low dose. There are varying opinions as to the dosage and confusion between the active ingredient curcumin and turmeric doses. For these amounts, a few good grinds of pepper is sufficient (roughly 1/16 tsp. per 3 g. turmeric). It’s not rocket science so don’t worry about exactness.
If you are just starting out with turmeric powder, try 1/4 tsp. twice a day for several days before increasing to the suggested dose.
According to research, piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper will increase significantly the bio-availability of curcumin by 2000% (or put differently, 20 times more bio-available.). “Piperine enhances the serum concentration, extent of absorption and bio-availability of curcumin.” Turmeric has poor bioavailability due to its rapid metabolism in the liver and intestinal walls. Piperine works via various mechanisims that enhance absorption of ALL nutrients.
Tea/drinks: Some people like to take it as a tea, adding a little coconut oil and black pepper. Others like to take it in warm milk with honey (Golden Milk recipe here) or hot cocoa.
Capsules: Curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) is available in capsule form. Personally, I am not a fan of taking herbs (or spices) in such a concentrated active-ingredient-only-form. This is not what nature intended nor herbal medicine traditions which understood the importance of the synergy of the whole plant matter, be it seeds, leaf, bark or root. However, please consider organic turmeric which it may be quite helpful for therapeutic short term uses as a massive dosing therapy. ‘Short term’ is the key word. See cautions below. Note: There is much confusion about turmeric capsules on many websites and even companies selling them. Read the label. Is it whole turmeric powder or in large letters TURMERIC or turmeric extract but somewhere in smaller print ‘curcumin’? Turmeric extract is curcumin.
Food: A great way to take it, a curry is perhaps the best food method – but do you eat curry daily and with medicinal amounts of turmeric? I doubt it. However, I have added turmeric throughout the day in my yogurt, muesli, some soups, salad dressings and other dishes. It gets a bit ‘old’ after a while and invariably I return to my favourite way which is in yogurt where the flavour nearly disappears. There is no problem for pregnant or breastfeeding women to take turmeric in normal amounts for cooking. Asian and Indian women have been doing it since millennia.
Fat/oil: This is my modus operandi and part of my morning routine. One teaspoon of coconut oil (turns solid in winter so I warm it a little) to 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. I add a good few turns of black pepper (for the piperine). This is most likely about 1/8 teaspoon. I repeat this in the afternoon. These two doses will equal the recommended dose of 1g daily. Of course you can use any non-inflammatory oil, however coconut oil is my personal favourite.
Lately, I have been using one dollop of full fat real yogurt (about one tablespoon) without the coconut oil to which I stir in the rest.
Many people follow the attitude that ‘more is better’. This is a huge mistake as turmeric is BEST absorbed in smaller doses throughout the day. Huge doses at once will simply be wasted. Bio-availability of the curcumin is a real problem that must be taken seriously. Take it as suggested WITH the black pepper as explained above and the dose you take will be far better absorbed.
Please reread all the above information before you comment. I will not answer comments that obviously show not having read this article fully (such as: how much should I take or I just take it with water, is this ok?). I will gladly answer any other questions to clarify the article or those you may have for your unique health situation, if I can.
Caution regarding therapeutic doses (of turmeric powder and in particular curcumin supplementation):
- Turmeric is used to lower blood sugar and may be problematic for diabetics taking diabetic medicines and hypoglycemics.
- Turmeric also lowers blood pressure in high doses. Do not take with herbs that have similar effect nor with chemical drugs such as antihypertensives that artificially lower the blood pressure. It’s either one or the other.
- It lowers the LDL (‘bad cholesterol) and raises the HDL (‘good cholesterol) and will boost the effect of chemical cholesterol lowering drugs. Taken together, not a good idea. Consider your choices. See statement in bold below.
- Theraputic doses of turmeric can act as a blood thinner and is not to be taken in conjunction with such chemical blood thinners such as warfarin, coumadin, clopidogrel, or even aspirin, do not ingest turmeric in any form in more than low doses. In normal usage and doses, it is on a par with aspirin or Ibuprofen and is not a problem.
- Therapeutic doses of turmeric taken with moderate to high doses of Ginko biloboa or garlic, all of which have blood thinning properties, should not be taken at the same time.
- If you do take therapeutic doses of turmeric, stop 48 prior to surgery (some sites advise 2 weeks…this is not necessary).
- May cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach.
- If you are having problems with bile duct obstruction, gall bladder or gall stones, avoid therapeutic doses of turmeric as it stimulates the liver to produce more bile.
- If you are susceptible to kidney stones, curcumin can increase calcium oxalate excretion.
- High, therapeutic doses may stimulate uterine contractions and menstrual flow. In other words, if you are pregnant do not take therapeutic doses, however normal use is fine.
- Therapeutic doses may lower blood sugar. This is not a problem for diabetics who regularly check their sugar levels and can adjust their insulin or food intake accordingly.
Therapeutic doses of most any herbal preparation is seldom intended for long term use and were never intended to be used in that way. Obviously, long term chemical ‘solutions’ have also negative effects. Many herbalists and naturopathic practitioners recommend taking breaks of a few weeks from any therapeutic long term herb use. However, some people eventually ease themselves off of pharmaceuticals and are happy with the results using natural methods and just as importantly, a healthier lifestyle. Your health practitioner (read my interpretation of that and my disclaimer here) should be consulted.
**Since turmeric is primarily a food supplement and considered an adaptogenic herb by many herbalists especially by Ayurvedic practitioners, it is considered an exception to the rule. “Taking a break” from therapeutic doses of turmeric simply means reduce the amount to normal maintenance of roughly 1/4 tsp. once or twice daily for a few weeks. Add it as a condiment to your food. Thus, turmeric can be taken daily by varying the dose every few months. You can also add equal amounts of ginger powder during lower dose periods. Read about ginger here. Follow links at the bottom of that article for more on ginger.**
Warning! Super food turmeric may seriously improve your health.
Be sure to purchase your herb and spices from non-irradiated, organic and reliable sources for the full health benefit. Grocery store herbs are good enough for seasoning but most likely have been radiated. One company I have come to trust is “Simply Organic”.
It is worth considering that many people have successfully either weaned themselves off chemical drugs or at least lowered the doses over time. This also means, avoided the inevitable side effects of long term pharmaceuticals. Consult with a health practitioner who is knowledgeable in natural methods, especially turmeric, about your dosage and method.
Small selection of references:
- Shapiro K, Gong WC. Natural products used for diabetes. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association. 2002;42(2):217–226. [PubMed]
- Gobert CP, Duncan AM. Consumption, perceptions and knowledge of soy among adults with type 2 diabetes. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2009;28(2):203–218. [PubMed]
- Jiang CS, Liang LF, Guo YW. Natural products possessing protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) inhibitory activity found in the last decades. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica. 2012;33(10):1217–1245. [PubMed]
- Nolan CJ, Damm P, Prentki M. Type 2 diabetes across generations: from pathophysiology to prevention and management. The Lancet. 2011;378(9786):169–181. [PubMed]
- Aggarwal BB, Sundaram C, Malani N, Ichikawa H. Curcumin: the Indian solid gold. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 2007;595:1–75. [PubMed]
- Kolev TM, Velcheva EA, Stamboliyska BA, Spiteller M. DFT and experimental studies of the structure and vibrational spectra of curcumin. International Journal of Quantum Chemistry. 2005;102(6):1069–1079.
- Perez-Torres I, Ruiz-Ramirez A, Banos G, El-Hafidi M. Hibiscus sabdariffa Linnaeus (Malvaceae), curcumin and resveratrol as alternative medicinal agents against metabolic syndrome. Cardiovascular & Hematological Agents in Medicinal Chemistry. 2013;11(1):25–37. [PubMed]
- Goel A, Kunnumakkara AB, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin as “Curecumin”: from kitchen to clinic. Biochemical Pharmacology. 2008;75(4):787–809. [PubMed]