Herbal Therapies Used by People Living With HIV: Turmeric

Part of A Practical Guide to Herbal Therapies for People Living With HIV

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an Indian plant related to ginger. Its roots contain a substance called curcumin, which is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that is used in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce swelling caused by arthritis or injury.

Before the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), there was some interest curcumin, based on results of test-tube studies. Subsequent studies in PHAs gave disappointing results.

Turmeric is usually sold in the form of capsules in which the curcumin content has been standardized to a particular percentage. The trials mentioned above used doses of curcumin ranging from 2,500 mg per day to 4,800 mg per day. These doses are substantially higher that those used to treat inflammation. At high doses, curcumin can cause stomach upset and perhaps even ulcers. People with low platelets levels or who are using anticoagulents should use curcumin with caution. Curcumin is sometimes blended with other herbs to improve absorption.