EXCLUSIVE: Warning to trendy turmeric latte drinkers: Patient’s gallbladder BURSTS after taking super-strength supplements
Medics are warning against overdosing on turmeric, after a man’s gallbladder burst after taking too much of the superfood powder.
Turmeric has long been hailed for its anti-inflammatory effects, and is thought to help with everything from HIV and upset stomachs to depression and arthritis. The supplement is typically taken in pill or powder form, and the powder can be turned into aesthetic-looking pale yellow turmeric lattes.
The man’s plight highlights the potential dangers of over-ingesting herbal supplements, medics from the State University of New York (SUNY) who reported on the case said.
He was using between 1,500 to 2,000mg of the supplements each night – at the high end of the 500 to 2,000mg recommended amount recognized by doctors.
Superfood substances typically bypass drug regulatory agencies, and adverse events are rarely reported, they warned, meaning people are less aware of the supplements’ potential to be harmful if misused.
Studies have suggested that an effective dose of turmeric is between 500-2,000mg per day. A turmeric latte with a teaspoon of powder contains roughly 200mg of curcumin
A 69-year-old man had been taking daily supplements of 1,500-2,000mg of curcumin for four months, the main ingredient in turmeric which gives it its bright yellow color.
After three days of a stitch-like pain, chest pain, fever and sweating, he went to the emergency room.
His pain, which he described as an eight out of 10, was spreading across his upper back.
When doctors examined his lungs and cardiovascular system they could find nothing out of place, as reported in the American Journal of Medical Case Reports.
But a CT scan of his chest revealed his gallbladder had burst badly and he had a 1cm gallstone in the neck of the gallbladder.
Gallstones can block the tubes that bile flows through from your gallbladder to your small intestine, which can lead to severe pain and bile duct infection.
The man was admitted to hospital and given antibiotics metronidazole and levofloxacin. After seven days, he was released and continued taking the medication at home.
The superfood supplements are not recommended for people with gallstones, as turmeric increases the gallbladder’s ability to move bile out into the bile ducts.
However, turmeric has also been shown to decrease the chance of gallstone formation in patients who have not had one before.
SUNY medical student Alejandro Vega and kidney specialist Dr Ernie Yap, who reviewed the case, said the man’s preformed gallstone in combination with his turmeric supplement overdose could have caused his gallbladder to burst.
Because turmeric enables the gallbladder to move more bile, there would have been less space for the gallstone to be released.
They believe repeated use of the supplements and subsequent gallbladder contraction combined with the gallstone would have caused a pressure build up that eventually burst the organ.
Studies have suggested that an effective dose of turmeric is between 500-2,000mg per day.
A turmeric latte with a teaspoon of powder contains roughly 200mg of curcumin.
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties are thought to come from its ability to block and lower the levels of two enzymes in the body which cause inflammation.
In a study on the effect of curcumin extract in people with colorectal cancer, patients consuming 2200mg of turmeric extract a day for four months were not deemed to be receiving the drug at its biological destination.
This points to the need for more clinical trials on the impacts of high doses of turmeric, the SUNY medics said.