Turmeric and its adverse effects in the sights of ANSES

The National Agency for Food, Environment and Labor Safety publishes a press release mentioning adverse effects related to the consumption of turmeric-based food supplements. Among them, it is those whose formulation increases the bioavailability of curcmine that would be in the sights of the agency.

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[EN VIDÉO] Turmeric: the different benefits of the golden spice
Turmeric, the main ingredient of curry, is adorned with several virtues, designated by tradition and more or less found by science. This spice is obviously active against a number of ailments, including a notorious anti-inflammatory effect.

In the world of dietary supplements, turmeric enjoys a very special reputation. This substance is supposed to have many biological and clinical effects: to decrease theinflammationI’oxidationjoint pain, prevent some cancer, etc. However, there remains a problem for those who are convinced that said effects are real: curcumin does not have good bioavailability.

In other words, after ingestion turmeric or capsules containing turmeric curcumin without substance allowing to protect it from various enzymes or certain conditions such as a slightly alkaline pH, it is not detectable in your blood because it is very quickly metabolized and gives way to other compounds. Over the past few years, the dietary supplement market has been working hard to find ways to increase the bioavailability of curcumin. Innovations that turn out to be potentially dangerous.

What is the acceptable daily intake of curcumin?

All products that come into contact with humans must undergo toxicological testing to determine safe doses and therefore avoid side effects. For curcumin, including foods and supplements should provide no more than 153 mg of curcumin per day. A rate difficult to achieve even when consuming a lot of turmeric and conventional food supplements. But improving bioavailability reshuffles the cards. Without exceeding the acceptable daily dose in absolute value, it could well be that these formulas exceed it in matter of bioavailability.

Cases of hepatitis in France and Italy

the nutrivigilance network of ANSES has identified more than 100 reports adverse effects likely to be related to the consumption of food supplements containing turmeric or curcumin, including 15 hepatitis. Last May, ANSES published a report of more than 170 pages which reflects its opinion on the assessment of the risks associated with the consumption of food supplements containing turmeric. With regard to hepatotoxicity, the report mentions several studies which suggest that at high doses — doses which, for example, can lead to increased bioavailability — the effect of curcumin could be antagonist commonly observed effects in vitro, in certain animal models and sometimes in humans, i.e. being pro-oxidant and promoting hepatocyte degradation. Mechanistic studies cited by ANSES corroborate these hypotheses.

What behavior to adopt?

In view of the controversial clinical efficacy of curcumin and the heterogeneity of the supply from the food supplement market, caution should be exercised. If you consume turmeric-based food supplements, avoid formulas that increase the bioavailability of its active ingredient (coupling with piperine, coated in a lipid matrix, etc.). Finally, ANSES recommends that people undergoing medical treatment and people with pathologies bile ducts to avoid the consumption of food supplements containing curcumin as much as possible.

What you must remember

  • Turmeric-based food supplements are widely consumed and have a solid reputation;
  • Reports of adverse effects, including 15 cases of hepatitis, were identified by ANSES’s nutrivigilance network;
  • For now, dietary supplement formulations that increase the bioavailability of curcumin should be avoided.

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