Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Osteoarthritis (Ashwagandha, Boswellia)
1,000 mg daily boswellia resin herbal extract or two capsules, three times per day of Aticulin-F (formula containing 100 mg boswellia, 450 mg ashwagandha, 50 mg turmeric, and 50 mg zinc)
A combination of boswellia, ashwagandha, turmeric, and zinc effectively treated pain and stiffness in one study, without the stomach irritation that is a common side effect of NSAIDs.
Boswellia has anti-inflammatory properties that have been compared to those of the NSAIDs used by many for inflammatory conditions.1 Clinical trials have found that boswellia is more effective than a placebo for relieving pain and swelling and preventing loss of function in people with osteoarthritis.2 Boswellia has also been found to be as effective as the anti-inflammatory drug valdecoxib (Bextra). In addition, while the improvements occurred more slowly in the boswellia group than in the valdecoxib group, they persisted for a longer period of time after treatment was discontinued.3 One clinical trial found that a combination of boswellia, ashwagandha, turmeric, and zinc effectively treated pain and stiffness associated with OA but did not improve joint health, according to X-rays of the affected joint.4 Unlike NSAIDs, long-term use of boswellia does not lead to irritation or ulceration of the stomach.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
500 mg four times per day, for indigestion
In a double-blind trial, turmeric was found to relieve indigestion.
Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.5
In a double-blind trial, the spice turmeric was found to relieve indigestion.6 Two capsules containing 250 mg turmeric powder per capsule were given four times per day.
400 mg of curcumin three times daily
Turmeric’s active constituent, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that protects the body against free radical damage.
Turmeric is a yellow spice often used to make curry dishes. The active constituent, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that protects the body against free radical damage.7 A double-blind trial found curcumin to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent in RA patients.8 The amount of curcumin usually used is 400 mg three times per day.
Ginger is another Ayurvedic herb used to treat people with arthritis. A small number of case studies suggest that taking 6–50 grams of fresh or powdered ginger per day may reduce the symptoms of RA.9 A combination formula containing ginger, turmeric, boswellia, and ashwagandha has been shown in a double-blind trial to be slightly more effective than placebo for RA;10 the amounts of herbs used in this trial are not provided by the investigators.
Refer to label instructions
Turmeric’s active compound curcumin has shown potent anti-platelet activity in preliminary studies.
Turmeric’s active compound curcumin has shown potent anti-platelet activity in animal studies.11 It has also demonstrated this effect in preliminary human studies.12 In a similar vein, bilberry has been shown to prevent platelet aggregation13 as has peony.14 However, none of these three herbs has been documented to help atherosclerosis in human trials.
Refer to label instructions
Some doctors recommend using the anti-inflammatory herbs boswellia, turmeric, willow, and topical cayenne ointment for bursitis.
While there have been few studies on herbal therapy for bursitis, most practitioners would consider using anti-inflammatory herbs that have proven useful in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. These would include boswellia, turmeric, willow, and topical cayenne ointment.
Refer to label instructions
Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been reported to have anti-inflammatory activity. In one study, people given turmeric saw an improvement after three months.
Curcumin is a compound in turmeric (Curcuma longa) that has been reported to have anti-inflammatory activity. In a preliminary trial, four of five people with Crohn's disease had an improvem ent in their condition after supplementing with curcumin for three months. The amount used was 360 mg three times a day for one month, followed by 360 mg four times a day for two months.15
Refer to label instructions
Research research suggests that substances found in turmeric have potential benefit for topical prevention of genital herpes.
Test tube and animal research suggests that substances found in turmeric, cloves, eucalyptus, and seaweed have potential benefit for topical prevention of genital herpes, but no human research using available herbal products has been performed.16
HIV and AIDS Support
Refer to label instructions
Turmeric may be a useful herb with immune effects in people infected with HIV. One trial found that curcumin, turmeric’s main active compound, helped improve CD4+ cell counts.
Turmeric may be another useful herb with immune effects in people infected with HIV. One preliminary trial found that curcumin, the main active compound in turmeric, helped improve CD4+ cell counts.17 The amount used in this study was 1 gram three times per day by mouth. These results differed from those found in a second preliminary trial using 4.8 or 2.7 grams of curcumin daily. In that study, there was no apparent effect of curcumin on HIV replication rates.18
Low Back Pain
Refer to label instructions
Turmeric is an herb known traditionally for its anti-inflammatory effects, a possible advantage for people suffering from low back pain.
Turmeric is another herb known traditionally for its anti-inflammatory effects, a possible advantage for people suffering from low back pain. Several preliminary studies confirm that curcumin, one active ingredient in turmeric, may decrease inflammation in both humans19 and animals.20, 21 In one double-blind trial, a formula containing turmeric, other herbs, and zinc significantly diminished pain for people with osteoarthritis.22 Standardized extracts containing 400 to 600 mg of curcumin per tablet or capsule are typically taken three times per day. For tinctures of turmeric, 0.5 to 1.5 ml three times per day are the usual amount.
Pre- and Post-Surgery Health
Refer to label instructions
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory effects. One trial found curcumin (from turmeric) was more effective than anti-inflammatory medication for relieving postsurgical inflammation.
A recent study found that 24% of surgery patients had taken herbal supplements before their surgeries, and 50 different herbs had been used among these patients.23 Little research exists, however, on the safety or efficacy of herbs before surgery. Some researchers and healthcare providers are concerned about possible harmful interactions between herbs and medications used around or during surgery, or the possibility that some herbs may increase bleeding during and after surgery.24, 25 The use of herbs around the time of surgery should be discussed with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner.
Turmeric(Curcuma longa) is an herb with anti-inflammatory effects.26 One trial found curcumin (from turmeric) at 400 mg three times daily was more effective than either placebo or anti-inflammatory medication for relieving post-surgical inflammation. However, as the different treatment groups had different degrees of inflammation at the start of the study, firm conclusions cannot be drawn from this study.27
Refer to label instructions
Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, is anti-inflammatory and may improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
Curcumin is a compound in turmeric(Curcuma longa) that has been reported to have anti-inflammatory activity. In a preliminary trial, five of five people with chronic ulcerative proctitis (a condition similar to ulcerative colitis) had an improvement in their disease after supplementing with curcumin. The amount of curcumin used was 550 mg twice a day for one month, followed by 550 mg three times a day for one month.28 In a double-blind trial, supplementation with curcumin in the amount of 1 gram twice a day for six months decreased the relapse rate in patients with ulcerative colitis in remission. The relapse rate was 4.7% among people receiving curcumin and 20.5% in the placebo group, a statistically significant difference. All patients in the study also received conventional therapy.29
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric was prescribed for treatment of many conditions, including poor vision, rheumatic pains, and coughs, and to increase milk production. Native peoples of the Pacific sprinkled the dust on their shoulders during ceremonial dances and used it for numerous medical problems ranging from constipation to skin diseases. Turmeric was used for numerous intestinal infections and ailments in Southeast Asia.
How It Works
How It Works
The active constituent is known as curcumin. It has been shown to have a wide range of therapeutic actions. First, it protects against free radical damage because it is a strong antioxidant.30, 31 Second, it reduces inflammation by lowering histamine levels and possibly by increasing production of natural cortisone by the adrenal glands.32 Third, it protects the liver from a number of toxic compounds.33 Fourth, it has been shown to reduce platelets from clumping together, which in turn improves circulation and may help protect against atherosclerosis.34 There are also test-tube and animal studies showing a cancer-preventing action of curcumin. In one of these studies, curcumin effectively inhibited metastasis (uncontrolled spread) of melanoma (skin cancer) cells.35 This may be due to its antioxidant activity in the body. Curcumin inhibits HIV in test tubes, though human trials are needed to determine if it has any usefulness for treating humans with this condition.36
A preliminary trial in people with rheumatoid arthritis found curcumin to be somewhat useful for reducing inflammation and symptoms such as pain and stiffness.37 A separate double-blind trial found that curcumin was superior to placebo or phenylbutazone (an NSAID) for alleviating post-surgical inflammation.38
While a double-blind trial has found turmeric helpful for people with indigestion,39 results in people with stomach or intestinal ulcers have not shown it to be superior to a placebo and have demonstrated it to be less effective than antacids.40, 41
Preliminary research indicates a possible benefit of oral curcumin supplementation (375 mg of turmeric extract with 95% curcuminoids three times daily for 12 weeks) for chronic anterior uveitis (inflammation of the iris and middle coat of the eyeball).42
How to Use It
Turmeric extracts standardized at 90 to 95% curcumin can be taken in the amount of 250 to 500 mg three times per day.43 Tincture, 0.5–1.5 ml three times per day, is sometimes recommended.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.
Interactions with Medicines
As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
Used in the recommended amounts, turmeric is generally safe. It has been used in large quantities as a condiment with no adverse reactions. Some herbal books recommend not taking high amounts of turmeric during pregnancy as it may cause uterine contractions and people with gallstones or obstruction of bile passages should consult their healthcare practitioner before using turmeric.44, 45
2. Kimmatkar N, Thawani V, Hingorani L, Khiyani R. Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee – a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine 2003;10:3–7.
3. Sontakke S, Thawani V, Pimpalkhute S, et al. Open, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Boswellia serrata extract as compared to valdecoxib in osteoarthritis of knee. Indian J Pharmacol 2007;39:27–9.
4. Kulkarni RR, Patki PS, Jog VP, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with a herbomineral formulation: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. J Ethnopharmacol 1991;33:91–5.
5. Forster HB, Niklas H, Lutz S. Antispasmodic effects of some medicinal plants. Planta Med 1980;40:303–19.
6. Thamlikitkul V, Bunyapraphatsara N, Dechatiwongse T, et al. Randomized double blind study of Curcuma domestica Val for dyspepsia. J Med Assoc Thai 1989;72:613–20.
7. Kulkarni RR, Patki PS, Jog VP, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with a herbomineral formulation: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. J Ethnopharmacol 1991;33:91–5.
8. Deodhar SD, Sethi R, Srimal RC. Preliminary studies on antirheumatic activity of curcumin (diferuloyl methane). Ind J Med Res 1980;71:632–4.
9. Srivastava KC, Mustafa T. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders. Med Hypoth 1992;39:342–8.
10. Chopra A, Lavin P, Patwardhan B, Chitre D. Randomized double blind trial of an Ayurvedic plant derived formulation for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. J Rheumatol 2000;27:1365–72.
11. Srivastava R, Dikshit M, Srimal RC, Dhawan BN. Anti-thrombotic action of curcumin. Throm Res 1985;404:413–7.
12. Srivastava KC, Bordia A, Verma SK. Curcumin, a major component of food spice turmeric (Curcuma longa) inhibits aggregation and alters eicosanoid metabolism in human blood platelets. Prost Leuk Essen Fat Acids. 1995;52:223–7.
13. Pulliero G, Montin S, et al. Ex vivo study of the inhibitory effects of Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) anthocyanosides on human platelet aggregation. Fitoterapia 1989;60:69–75.
14. Liu J. Effect of Paeonia obovata 801 on metabolism of thromboxane B2 and arachidonic acid and on platelet aggregation in patients with coronary heart disease and cerebral thrombosis. Chin Med J 1983;63:477–81 [in Chinese].
15. Holt PR, Katz S, Kirshoff R. Curcumin therapy in inflammatory bowel disease: a pilot study. Dig Dis Sci 2005;50:2191–3.
16. Bourne KZ, Bourne N, Reising SF, Stanberry LR. Plant products as topical microbicide candidates: assessment of in vitro and in vivo activity against herpes simplex virus type 2. Antiviral Research 1999;42:219–26.
17. Copeland R, Baker D, Wilson H. Curcumin therapy in HIV-infected patients. Int Conf AIDS 1994;10:216 [abstract no. PB0876].
18. Hellinger JA, Cohen CJ, Dugan ME, et al. Phase I/II randomized, open-label study of oral curcumin safety, and antiviral effects on HIV-RT PCR in HIV+ individuals. 3rd Conf Retro and Opportun Infect 1996;Jan/Feb:78 [abstract].
19. Satoskar RR, Shah SJ, Shenoy SG. Evaluation of antiinflammatory property of curcumin (diferuloyl methane) in patients with postoperative inflammation. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol 1986;24:651–4.
20. Ghatak N, Basu N. Sodium curcuminate as an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Indian J Exp Biol 1972;10:235–6.
21. Chandra D, Gupta SS. Anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity of volatile oil of curcuma longa (Haldi). Indian J Med Res 1972;60:138–42.
22. Kulkarni RR, Patki PS, Jog VP, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with a herbomineral formulation: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. J Ethnopharmacol 1991;33:91–5.
23. Norred CL, Zamudio S, Palmer SK. Use of complementary and alternative medicines by surgical patients. AANA J 2000;68:13–8.
24. Murphy JM. Preoperative considerations with herbal medicines. AORN J 1999;69:173–5, 177–8, 180–3.
25. Robb-Nicholson C. By the way, doctor. My surgeon advised me to stop taking gingko biloba before my hip surgery. Can you explain why? Are there any other herbs I should avoid? Harv Womens Health Watch 2000;7:8.
26. Arora RB, Basu N, Kapoor V, Jain AP. Anti-inflammatory studies on Curcuma longa (turmeric). Indian J Med Res 1971;59:1289–95.
27. Satoskar RR, Shah SJ, Shenoy SG. Evaluation of anti-inflammatory property of curcumin (diferuloyl methane) in patients with postoperative inflammation. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol 1986;24:651–4.
28. Holt PR, Katz S, Kirshoff R. Curcumin therapy in inflammatory bowel disease: a pilot study. Dig Dis Sci 2005;50:2191–3.
30. Sreejayan N, Rao MNA. Free radical scavenging activity of curcuminoids. Arzneimittelforschung 1996;46:169–71.
31. Ramirez-Boscá A, Soler A, Gutierrez MAC, et al. Antioxidant curcuma extracts decrease the blood lipid peroxide levels of human subjects. Age 1995;18:167–9.
32. Arora RB, Basu N, Kapoor V, Jain AP. Anti-inflammatory studies on Curcuma longa (turmeric). Ind J Med Res 1971;59:1289–95.
33. Kiso Y, Suzuki Y, Watanbe N, et al. Antihepatotoxic principles of Curcuma longa rhizomes. Planta Med 1983;49:185–7.
34. Srivastava R, Dikshit M, Srimal RC, Dhawan BN. Anti-thrombotic effect of curcumin. Thromb Res 1985;40:413–7.
35. Menon LG, Kuttan R, Kuttan G. Anti-metastatic activity of curcumin and catechin. Cancer Lett 1999;141:159–65.
36. Barthelemy S, Vergnes L, Moynier M, et al. Curcumin and curcumin derivatives inhibit Tat-mediated transactivation of type 1 human immunodeficiency virus long terminal repeat. Res Virol 1998;149:43–52.
37. Deodhar SD, Sethi R, Srimal RC. Preliminary studies on antirheumatic activity of curcumin (diferuloyl methane). Ind J Med Res 1980;71:632–4.
38. Satoskar RR, Shah SJ, Shenoy SG. Evaluation of anti-inflammatory property of curcumin (diferuloyl methane) in patients with postoperative inflammation.Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol 1986;24:651–4.
39. Thamlikitkul V, Bunyapraphathara N, Dechatiwongse T, et al. Randomized double-blind study of Curcuma domestica Val for dyspepsia. J Med Assoc Thai 1989;72:613–20.
40. Van Dau N, Ngoc Ham N, Huy Khac D, et al. The effects of traditional drug, turmeric (Curcuma longa), and placebo on the healing of duodenal ulcer. Phytomedicine 1998;5:29–34.
41. Kositchaiwat C, Kositchaiwat S, Havanondha J. Curcuma longa Linn in the treatment of gastric ulcer comparison to liquid antacid: A controlled clinical trial. J Med Assoc Thai 1993;76:601–5.
42. Lal B, Kapoor AK, Asthana OP, et al. Efficacy of curcumin in the management of chronic anterior uveitis. Phytotherapy Res 1999;13:318–22.
43. Foster S. 101 Medicinal Herbs. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1998, 200–1.
44. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 222.
45. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, et al. American Herbal Products Association Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 39.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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