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Turmeric and Ginger: Benefits, Risks, Dosage

By Published On: April 11, 20247.8 min readViews: 2060 Comments on Turmeric and Ginger: Benefits, Risks, Dosage

Turmeric and ginger are popular spices and supplements with Asian origins. They’re a part of the same plant family Zingiberaceae and share origins of being used in traditional medicine in India and China for centuries.

Turmeric has traditionally been used to relieve the common cold and treat digestive, skin, and upper respiratory tract disorders. It’s most widely touted for reducing inflammation. Ginger is often used for its digestive benefits, particularly for relieving nausea and pain, along with its immune health benefits. 

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Taking ginger and turmeric together may reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms of inflammation-related illnesses such as arthritis, digestive diseases, and even diabetes. However, taking them together may also have further potential risks.

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Turmeric is most popular for its anti-inflammatory properties, which are largely due to a micronutrient found in the spice called curcumin. Studies have shown that curcumin may help manage inflammatory conditions like metabolic syndrome, arthritis, and hyperlipidemia.

Some specific conditions turmeric may benefit include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): A systematic review found that curcumin may help reduce inflammation in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease—the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 
  • The common cold: A recent study found that taking curcumin supplements for 12 weeks shortened the duration of the common cold in healthy Japanese adults.
  • Arthritis: Various studies have shown evidence that turmeric supplements may help alleviate pain and inflammation in various types of arthritis including ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout.
  • Metabolic syndrome: Some studies have found that curcumin supports healthy blood lipids, blood sugars, and blood pressure levels. All of these are factors in metabolic health that impact your risk for diabetes or heart disease.

However, these studies have large variations in sample size, quality, and dosage. Plus, curcumin is an unstable substance and our bodies don’t absorb it well, which makes it difficult to confirm its benefits.

You may have turned to ginger for motion sickness or nausea, which are some of its most popular uses. It’s largely beneficial because of its 100+ active compounds including gingerols, parasols, and more. These beneficial compounds can help the body in several ways.

Ginger may help with the following health concerns:

  • Pregnancy-related nausea: Studies have found that ginger can improve mild nausea and vomiting during pregnancy without significant health risks. 
  • Pain: The compounds in ginger exert various effects on the body, including acting as an antioxidant, which helps relieve pain. One research review found that ginger effectively relieved pain in a variety of conditions including dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), delayed onset muscle soreness, osteoarthritis, chronic low back pain, and migraine.
  • Type 2 diabetes: One study found that ginger supplementation improved fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C (an indicator for blood sugar levels), and markers of blood lipids amongst participants with type 2 diabetes. 
  • Seasonal allergies: Ginger supplements have been shown to effectively improve quality of life and nasal symptoms in patients with allergic rhinitis (also known as seasonal allergies or hay fever). 

Although many people tout ginger for motion sickness, most studies evaluating this haven’t found ginger to have this benefit. It’s also important to note that many studies on ginger have yielded mixed results, included small sample sizes, and utilized varying dosages.

There’s not much research on the combined benefits of turmeric and ginger, but some studies have found promising results.

A recent study evaluated the effects of an herbal supplement containing turmeric extract, ginger, and black pepper compared to Naproxen—a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)—on participants with knee osteoarthritis. After four weeks, the participants had significant decreases in prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)—a compound that plays a role in inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis.

Black pepper greatly improves turmeric’s bioavailability—your body’s ability to absorb it—which may have increased the turmeric’s benefit as part of the herbal supplement in the study.

Turmeric and ginger both exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity on the body and they’re generally well-tolerated, so combining them may help reduce inflammation and combat oxidative stress in the body. 

Another recent study found that turmeric and ginger have a synergistic effect when it comes to fighting inflammation, meaning they work better against inflammation when used together. However, this study was conducted on animals and human cells in test tubes, so person-based studies are needed to confirm the effect on human bodies.

You can find several combined turmeric and ginger supplements since they’re often taken together. You can also often find both ingredients in supplements marketed for joint health or inflammation-reduction. 

Most of these supplements will be sold as capsules or pills, so you’ll want to have a glass of water at the ready to help swallow them. Manufacturers often recommend taking a ginger and turmeric supplement with a meal. 

Studies on these supplements have split up the total daily dosage into up to four smaller doses throughout the day. Whether or not you need to split up the dose likely depends on how high of a dose you’re taking and the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific supplement you purchased. Splitting up high daily doses may help with absorption since your body already struggles to absorb curcumin in particular.

You can also look for a turmeric and ginger supplement that contains piperine—an active component of black pepper that greatly enhances the bioavailability of curcumin.

Dosage 

There is not much research on combining turmeric and ginger supplements, so there isn’t a recommended combined dose. The research available suggests that turmeric alone has proven beneficial at doses ranging from 500-8,000 milligrams (mg) per day. Turmeric extract is most often taken in doses of 1.5 grams (g), or 1,500 mg, per day for up to three months.

Ginger is typically taken in doses of 0.5–3 g per day for up to 12 weeks. One systematic review that included 12 studies found that doses of less than 1,500 mg per day had the best results for relieving nausea during pregnancy.

If you’re thinking of taking a turmeric and ginger supplement, check with a trusted healthcare provider for the best dose for you. It may vary based on why you’re taking it and if you have any health conditions. 

Both turmeric and ginger are generally considered safe for healthy adults. However, there’s room for more robust research to further evaluate the harms of taking high-dose ginger and turmeric supplements.

While ginger might help relieve nausea or vomiting during pregnancy without serious safety concerns, turmeric supplements might not be safe to take if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Turmeric supplements have much higher concentrations of turmeric than if you were to use it as a spice in food, and there isn’t enough research on taking high amounts of turmeric while pregnant or breastfeeding.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements for purity and potency. Look for a third-party tested supplement, which means the dosage and ingredients listed on the supplement facts label are accurate and that the supplement isn’t contaminated with excess heavy metals or unlisted ingredients.

Reputable third-party testers include U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF, and ConsumerLab. This is especially important for turmeric and ginger supplements because studies have found that they’re frequently mislabeled and may contain high amounts of lead.

Potential Drug Interactions

Turmeric and ginger may affect blood clotting, blood sugars, and blood pressure, which means you’ll want to be careful about mixing these supplements with medications that affect the body in a similar way. If you’re taking the following drugs, speak with your healthcare provider before starting a turmeric and ginger supplement:

  • Anticoagulants
  • Anti-diabetes medications
  • Blood pressure medications

There are no established safe upper limits for turmeric and ginger at this time. Using them as spices in foods is generally safe, but taking high-dose supplements could come with potential risks or side effects. 

Regulatory organizations outside of the U.S. like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have determined that 0–3 mg per kilogram (kg) of body weight is a safe range of curcumin intake. For reference, this is 204 mg for a 150-pound person and up to 340 mg for a 250-pound person.

Keep in mind, that’s for curcumin intake, not total turmeric intake. Many turmeric supplements are only about 3% curcuminoids, and generally, only 50-80% of those are curcumin. So even if you’re taking a 1,000 mg turmeric supplement, you’re likely still consuming an amount of curcumin that’s within this safe range set by the EFSA.

According to the FDA, up to 4 g of ginger root per day is considered safe. Higher doses may cause arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), allergic reactions, digestive issues, central nervous system depression, and prolonged bleeding.

Although they’re generally safe to take, turmeric and ginger can cause a few different side effects. Keep in mind that these side effects are more common if you take high doses of turmeric and ginger. Potential side effects include:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth and throat irritation
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Yellow stool

Turmeric and ginger are powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory spices and supplements. These supplements may help manage inflammatory diseases like arthritis and IBD, but there is currently not enough research on turmeric and ginger’s synergistic effect to confirm their combined benefits.

The spices are generally safe to take, but if you’re interested in taking a turmeric and ginger supplement, speak with your healthcare provider first to make sure they won’t interact with any medications or other supplements you’re taking.


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