Turmeric has been used as an alternative medicine for thousands of years. It has been used to treat many diseases and conditions, including stomach problems and digestive issues. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that this natural remedy relieves acid reflux, there are few clinical trials to prove these claims.
Turmeric is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. In traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has been used to relieve arthritis pain and regulate menstruation. It has also been used to improve digestion and liver function.
Today, turmeric is recognized as an alternative therapy for heartburn, inflammation, and stomach ulcers.
If you eat curry, you’ve consumed turmeric. It’s the ingredient that gives curry its spicy flavor and vibrant color.
Turmeric’s most active ingredient is called curcumin. It’s thought to be responsible for most of turmeric’s health benefits. Curcumin is a polyphenol antioxidant. It’s said to have potent antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer capabilities.
Although many studies have explored the medicinal properties of turmeric and its extract curcumin, there isn’t any research focused on acid reflux. Overall, there isn’t enough evidence to support the use of turmeric for any health condition. More research is needed to determine its effectiveness in people.
According to a 2007 study, acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. The study suggests GERD should be treated with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
A separate study showed the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin prevented esophageal inflammation. Turmeric and its extract curcumin are both said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, turmeric may relieve GERD. More research is needed to determine whether turmeric can reliably treat symptoms of acid reflux.
Turmeric’s stems, or rhizomes, can be dried and ground into a powder. The powder can be taken orally or used when cooking.
Unless you add turmeric to all of your recipes or drink a lot of turmeric tea, it may be difficult for you to consume enough turmeric to treat acid reflux. Organic turmeric extract supplements may be a better way to get medicinal amounts.
Your body absorbs turmeric and curcumin poorly. The spice and its extract are both rapidly metabolized by your liver and intestinal wall. Various methods of delivery have been explored to increase the bioavailability of curcumin. None have taken hold at this time.
One way to increase turmeric’s absorption is to consume it with piperine. It’s commonly found in black pepper. When choosing turmeric supplements, look for brands that have black pepper extract or piperine listed as an ingredient.
Risks and warnings
Turmeric is a natural blood thinner. You shouldn’t take turmeric if you take drugs that thin your blood or if you have an upcoming surgery. Turmeric may also lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and make gallbladder problems worse.
Some people report turmeric makes acid reflux worse. This may be due to its peppery qualities. Taking turmeric for a long period of time or in high doses may increase your risk of indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea.
Turmeric has also caused liver damage in mice when taken long-term. No liver damage has been reported in people.
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding shouldn’t use excessive amounts of turmeric. Anything more than what is typically used when cooking is considered excessive for this group.
There’s a risk of allergic reaction with all natural remedies. If you experience symptoms such as hives, a fast heart rate, or difficulty breathing after using turmeric, you should discontinue use. If your symptoms are severe, you should seek medical attention.
If you get heartburn occasionally, you may be able to treat it on your own with lifestyle changes. This includes:
- eating smaller meals
- not lying down after eating
- sleeping with your upper body elevated
- quitting smoking
- avoiding tight-fitting clothes that constrict your tummy area
If you’re overweight, consider consulting a personal trainer and a nutritionist to help you drop the extra pounds.
Take an honest look at your diet. Pay attention to which foods trigger your heartburn. Spicy foods, acidic foods, and fatty foods are common culprits. If these foods worsen your symptoms, limit them or avoid them completely.
If lifestyle changes don’t address your symptoms, your doctor may recommend you give over-the-counter medications a try. This may include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, or H2 blockers. As a last resort, surgery may be necessary.
Although there’s limited evidence that turmeric will help with acid reflux, it may be worth a try. Most people tolerate it well in food and when taken as a supplement.
If you plan to use turmeric, remember:
- For best results, use turmeric alongside black pepper or choose a supplement containing piperine.
- Turmeric can act as a blood thinner. You shouldn’t take turmeric alongside anticoagulant medications.
- You may experience unpleasant side effects if you take 1,500 milligrams or more of turmeric per day.
It may take a few weeks to see if turmeric helps your symptoms. If they don’t improve or worsen, you should discontinue use and consult your doctor.