Why The New “Report” on Turmeric and Liver Damage is Truly Bogus
According to a shocking new “report,” a 71 year old women developed autoimmune hepatitis after taking a turmeric supplement. However the findings, published in BMJ Case Reports, are unscientific at best.
According to the report, the woman started taking turmeric after reading a news article that suggested it could potentially protect against stroke. At the time, she was already taking 20 other medications and supplements.
About eight months after starting on turmeric, a blood test revealed her liver enzymes were elevated. She was ultimately diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, a condition where the immune system attacks the liver.
The doctors were stumped. They had no idea what was causing the disorder until three months later…when the patient diagnosed the problem herself.
Let’s repeat that. According to the official report published by BMJ, the notion that turmeric supplementation was the cause of her elevated liver enzymes “was ultimately identified by the patient rather than the healthcare providers.”
While searching the internet, she read that turmeric could possibly be linked to her liver problems. So she stopped taking it and threw the remainder in the trash.
It wasn’t until after she discarded the turmeric that she told her doctors about it. This was the first time they were made aware that the woman was taking a turmeric supplement (despite knowing about the other 20 other medications and supplements she was taking).
By then her liver enzymes were decreasing rapidly. Her doctors suspected she may have been right; that the turmeric supplements could have been responsible for her liver damage.
And in an interview with Prevention, Janet Funk, M.D., University of Arizona professor and coauthor of the report said, “we could not determine with certainty if it was turmeric.”
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So is This Proof or Speculation?
Since the turmeric product was long gone with the trash, the doctors had no way of testing it. Was it pure? Did it contain contaminants? Was it tainted in some other way? How much was she taking?
Also, were there any other changes in the woman’s life at the time? Is it possible one of her prescription medications—or a combination of two or more—was involved? Did she fail to report something else that may have played a role?
Ultimately, there is no substantial proof or evidence that turmeric was the culprit behind this woman’s liver damage.
At the same time, there is likely very little health benefit associated with taking most turmeric supplements. That’s because they often contain very low concentrations of curcumin, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric.
In general, turmeric supplements usually contain only about 3% curcumin—so it would take extremely large quantities of turmeric to receive any type of therapeutic effect.
Better Than Turmeric
Despite this shocking report, research suggests curcumin may actually be a powerful liver enhancer.
For example, a 2016 study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Phytotherapy Research found that eight weeks of curcumin supplementation significantly lowers the concentration of liver enzymes in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
In addition to improved liver enzymes, the curcumin group experienced a 78.9% improvement in liver fat content. They also showed significant reductions in body mass index, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and glycated hemoglobin compared with the placebo group.
And a 2018 meta-analysis involving four studies and 228 NAFLD subjects confirms that curcumin can significantly lower concentrations of liver enzymes in as little as eight weeks.
This highlights the importance of taking a high-quality standardized curcumin supplement over turmeric. Look for one standardized to 95% curcuminoids and enhanced with BioPerine®, black pepper extract to boost absorption.
Mansour-Ghanaei F, et al. Efficacy of curcumin/turmeric on liver enzymes in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J.IMR. Jul 2018 online.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, Amazon John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”