Doctor's Note

Here’s the video I mentioned on preventing gallstones in the first place: Cholesterol Gallstones.

The “p value” I mention in the video refers to a measure of the strength of evidence. The smaller it is, the stronger the evidence is that the result they found didn’t just happen by chance. By convention, a p value under 0.05 is considered small enough for a result to be considered statistically significant. This means that you’d only expect to find a result that remarkable simply by coincidence 5% of the time, or in 1 out of 20 cases. So, a p value like the one in the study, <.000, suggests you’d have to run the experiment thousands of times before you’d come up with such a dramatic result just by chance.

Do the turmeric videos ever end? Here’s some on turmeric and cancer:

And turmeric and a bunch of other conditions:

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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  • Julie

    From the abstract, I’m unable to tell if these patients received curcumin or turmeric (they seem to use the terms interchangeably). Also would like to know the amount per dose.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      It looks like they were prescribing curcumin. Give me a second to pull the study and see the dosage.

      • Thea

        Joseph: Welcome back!

    • gertrude van voorden

      Turmeric is the whole herb. Curcumin is just part of it and for some diseases this works better, whilst for other diseases the synergy of the whole herb works better. However scientific findings recently say we do not absorb sufficient of the kitchenherb to have any effect. They are now looking into better ways of increasing that effect, maybe through nanoparticles.

  • HaltheVegan

    I’m still trying to find the most absorbable brand of curcumin supplement. Several companies claim that theirs is the most absorbable, but they back up the claim with their own studies. Does anyone know of objective independent studies of different brands regarding their in vivo effectiveness?

    • george

      Most curcumin products have pipeline to increase the bioavailability of curcumin. Piperine increases the bioavailability of curcumin by inhibiting an enzyme in the phase II of liver detoxification. I don’t like that, so I use Life Extension curcumin, which doesn’t have piperine, but i don’t have any independent evidence attesting to its efficacy.

      • Patricia Murphy

        Friend did some research and found black peppercorns with a turmeric capsule or two, so it goes into the digestive tract and is not digested by stomach acids, thus getting greater absorbency into the system; it’s only a lay person’s approach; but it seems to make sense! Especially with the extremely high incidence of colonic cancer prevailing worldwide………mainly due, I believe, to non vegan and sedentary lifestyle. But that’s my perspective; it’s totally open to academic interpretation!! :-)

      • ron

        I use the same George and prior to that I used Turmeric from New Chapter and I think I have got similar results from both which I measure by my osteoarthritis discomfort. I am 81 and I also make a smoothie every morning and sometimes add 1/2 tsp. of turmeric spice.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      I’m not sure the best brand to buy. Dr. Greger mentions how it’s best to find one with Good Manufacturing Practices. He says “If you are going to take a supplement, how do you choose? The latest review recommends purchasing from Western suppliers that follow recommended Good Manufacturing Practices, which may decrease the likelihood you’re buying an adulterated product.”

      .

    • Chris

      Why take supplements? Instead, you can use a teaspoon of turmeric with a couple of pinches of black pepper along with a few nuts or seeds to help enhance absorption. I add these to my rice or even put some turmeric and pepper in a smoothie. Also, you can get more curcumin in your diet by flavoring your foods with curry.

      • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

        Ding Ding Ding! We gotta winner here! There are only a few that should consider avoiding more than 1 tsp per day of turmeric due to its oxalate content.

        • Doug

          I take 1/2t of turmeric with black pepper 2x a day. I put it in a cup, swish it around with water and drink it down. I’ve ruined 3 shirts with turmeric stains though, because I have a drinking problem, so now i wear a bib.

        • Greg

          I am one of those few who need to avoid high oxylates, and so would appreciate knowing of a good quality curcumin supplement. I haven’t come across any whose description and/or labeling specifically mention oxylate content or lack thereof. A capsule just filled with turmeric wouldn’t do me any good as far as avoiding oxylates, however, if I could find pure curcumin extract that would probably fit the bill.

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            Hmm I don’t know of one being better than others. Did you happen to see my post about finding a good brand? Dr. Greger mentions how it’s best to find one with Good Manufacturing Practices. He says “If you are going to take a supplement, how do you choose? The latest review recommends purchasing from Western suppliers that follow recommended Good Manufacturing Practices, which may decrease the likelihood you’re buying an adulterated product.”

        • HaltheVegan

          I do try to get my nutrition from whole foods in most cases. But, I was under the impression that most of these research studies used curcumin supplements because that is the most active ingredient in turmeric and there is only a small amount of curcumin (4 or 5 %) in turmeric. Would the conclusions of these studies hold up if the whole turmeric powder were used instead of curcumin extract? And how much turmeric powder would one need to take to get the therapeutic effect shown in these studies (not only this study, but all the other wonderful benefits that turmeric has)?

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            I think many of the studies do use turmeric! Just a little bit (maybe 1 tsp) can have a beneficial effect. Dr. Greger discusses in this video about using black pepper to boost bioavailability. “Another way to boost the absorption of curcumin is to consume it in the whole food, turmeric root (fresh or dried), and powdered as turmeric because natural oils found in turmeric root and turmeric powder can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin 7 to 8 fold. When eaten with fat, curcumin can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system thereby in part bypassing the liver.”

          • Denise

            Liposomal delivery greatly improves bioavailability of orally administered curcumin. Check out this site: http://www.encapsula.com. I get most of my supplements from bulk supplements.com. I am not affiliated in any way, except of course a customer. I use their “Curcumin 95% natural Tumeric Extract” clean & pure, 100 grams $28.96, and use the Liposomal encapsulation delivery with the lipid sunflower seed powder.

        • John

          So why would the powder be better than slices of the root itself? Isn’t the root closer to being a whole food ? It seems like it probably has other positive compounds in it that we don’t yet know as well, and probably more fiber. John

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            You can totally use the fresh root! I think one of the reasons it’s more commonly known that the powder (turmeric spice) is effective is because researchers use that over the fresh root in clinical trials. Easier to have folks use turmeric or curcumin than buying the fresh stuff.

          • John

            So it’s easier to hide in a controlled study, so you can say, here is a capsule of powdered turmeric or a capsule of powdered something else, while if you tried the root, it would be obvious whether it was really turmeric or not. Completely makes sense to me. Thanks Dr. Gonzales.
            John

        • Nicola

          I heard from a friend that large doses of tumeric supplement can cause adverse cardiac effects…not sure what dose or brand he was taking. Is this a common occurrence or an isolated reaction due to overdose?

    • HaltheVegan

      Thanks to Joseph and all others who replied to my query … good information! This is my “go-to” website for nutritional information :-)

      • Denise

        I neglected to mention; I make my own Liposomal solution using nonGMO, organic sunflower lecithin. The website “encapsula” was informational only on the efficacy of using a phospholipid delivery. They mfg. products for sale – very expensive! But you can make your own, making it very affordable. YouTube has many videos on how to.

    • Fred

      Not sure…but I use this:

      http://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-ultra-turmeric-phytosome-meriva-500-mg-60-caps

      I’m assuming this is whole turmeric that is combined with phospholipids. For a while I was making my on phosphitalized vit C using lecithin.

      Dr Greger doesn’t particularly like phospholipids…and prefers black pepper (piperine)?

  • Slim055 .

    Facing an inguinal hernia repair, I was told to stop all herb supplement and use, e.g. dietary turmeric and garlic, before surgery as they could interfere with normal blood coagulation. Seems like I might have some turmeric afterwards.

    • Slim055 .

      +Slim055 I had the hernia repair surgery 11/20, almost four weeks ago as I write this. I resumed daily turmeric (3 grams) with ground flax seed and pepper, along with turmeric, garlic and other spices in my food. I was off pain pills within 3-4 days and started walking gently 1-2 hours a day. Only the first two days after surgery were challenging. Now I’m feeling just about normal and am cleared for starting more focused exercise by the end of the week. All the best.

  • Kathy

    how much did they take? what was the dosage and how often? thanks for the cool videos!

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Good question! It looks like they were prescribing curcumin at dosages of one 500 mg cap once every 6 hours.

  • http://www.solavei.com/49usdcellphone John Lopez

    The carbon emissions fallacy could be the beginning to regulate whole foods like turmeric.

  • Doug

    haha, carbon emissions. love it. I’ve been worried about my carbon emissions since I now eat a lot of black beans thanks to this website. Will there be a study some day showing that because of nutritionsfacts.org and eating beans led to increased methane gas emissions and resulted in accelerated global warming?

    • Wade Patton

      Just as soon as someone decides that they can make a fast buck, yes.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      We’ll work on publishing a 2016 meta-analysis ;-) haha thanks for the good laugh, Doug. You have boosted my immune system this fine morning.

    • Fred

      I’ll sell you some underwear with a built-in catalytic converter.

  • Wade Patton

    So then I made stone-ground grits with turmeric, and blueberries, and a bit of beet pickle juice for COLORS!

    Fennel seed for crunch, and more Indian flare. Flaxseed added, because hey-flaxseed!

    • Rebecca Cody

      OK, blueberries turn kind of reddish in the blender, beet pickle juice is definitely red or cerise, and turmeric is decidedly golden, so did you get a lively shade of orange? And, by the way, I haven’t tried fennel seeds for crunch but I will because I definitely like crunch. Indian restaurants often have fennel seeds next to the cash register, so people can take a pinch for digestion. Not sure the community bowl is a great idea, with everybody using their pinching finger and thumb, but I have seen it in Canada.

      • Wade Patton

        Blueberries remain blue and ooze a bit of purplish-red. The grits were yellow, turmeric YELLOWED them a bit more. Who said anything about a blender? I cook my grits, drop in the fruit and such near the end, allow a rest period, then eat.

        We used the provided teaspoon to scoop the fennel seeds/candy after meal treat at the Indian joint. At home I simply dump them into my hand and into my mouth or food.

      • Charzie

        Hey have you ever seen how they LIVE in India? And look at their population! Methinks we worry too much! lol

    • Charzie

      I’ve taken to adding Indian spices to my morning java addiction…sorta chai coffee, it rocks! (Makes me feel a tiny bit better about that damn spoonful of the poison cheap store brand non dairy creamer I can’t get away from!)

      • Wade Patton

        Have you tried dry-process Ethiopian coffee? It’s so flavorful and nearly sweet/creamy on its own. I buy green and roast in air popper.

        • Charzie

          Wow, sounds awesome and I would LOVE to, but I’m lucky if I can afford the coffee dregs right about now! lol

          • Wade Patton

            It’s actually pound for pound _cheaper_ for me to buy green coffee from Sweet Maria’s than it is to buy Eight O’Clock whole bean at the grocery next town over (no whole beans in my town at all). Yard sale popper, antique store grinder. You can spend more but you can’t get more. ;-D

          • Charzie

            I am totally with ya! I have to hunt for the best options creatively to stretch a spare buck, and the experience of others is mega helpful! You roast in an air popper? Could you elaborate? (I’m already growing a slew of different foods, so maybe I could even add coffee to the list? Not sure it would grow well here, but hey, why not make an attempt? I’m in S FL) Thanks Wade, I will do some hunting! (Disclaimer: No animals will be harmed in the process. lol)

          • Wade Patton

            Maybe coffee will grow there, I’m sure it’s been tried. I think mountains help, but find out.

            Yes, an air popper as marketed for popping corn will roast coffee just fine (if a bit noisy). Small batches are the rule, but I can roast enough for a week (one person) in two runs.

            You want the sort with air vents on the side, such that the beans spin. You have to listen for the crack. Some good info right at SM’s : https://legacy.sweetmarias.com/library/

            Java!

            (I bought a cup today, wasn’t bad…but I’ll roast up some beans now so that I can has _good_ coffee in the AM.)

          • Charzie

            Thanks for the info Wade!
            Yeah, I have a “mountain” in my yard, a compost pile! Har har.
            Actually had a coffee tree in CT as a house plant for years, so while our sea level environ here is not optimal for production, if nothing else I guess it would at least be a handsome addition to the yard. I’ll try planting some magic beans and see what I get. Ever try germinating the beans you get before roasting? Hmmmm…

          • Wade Patton

            I suppose they’d pop, but they’ve been de-hulled. That might not be important. Easy enough to find out.

  • Rebecca Cody

    Perhaps it’s all the antioxidants in my diet that kept me from needing pain meds following a mastectomy. The hospital was so crowded they parked me in a pre-op room following my 7 PM surgery and sent me home the next morning early. I never needed even an aspirin. I don’t remember if I was taking curcumin at the time, but I was on a healthy veggie-filled diet and may have been supplementing with curcumin, as I did take it for awhile.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Perhaps it is! Antioxidants from whole food sources appear to lower the risk of many diseases. Dr. Greger has so many videos on foods for pain. Glad to hear you did not require any aspirin and had a swift recovery.

      • Guest

        Any one can consider Bioavailable curcumin for better result, with 100 % turmeric origin, without any excepients, you try some Indian brands. they are market leaders. and patented worldwide.

    • SeedyCharacter

      Glad you had no pain for that major surgery! Hope you are healing well. You are clearly eating well!

  • David Barbour

    Love the turmeric!

  • dirtcoach

    As for further anecdotal evidence I used curcumin as I recovered from an inguinal hernia repair. I only took pain meds for one day and evening was no problem and was doing light yoga in 4 days. Was back to full work capacity lifting and toting 50-60# within 2 weeks.

  • ella_umbrella

    Loved this video! Made me laugh out loud at the end :-)

    I’m a german medical student in Freiburg and I watch your videos all the time. Thank you so much for all the work you put in every day to show people the importance of evidence-based nutrition!
    There really is much more to medicine than what they teach us in pharmacology class…

  • CommanderBill3

    Carbon emissions? The author doesn’t think growing, harvesting and processing curcumin or turmeric has a carbon foot print?

    Considering that flatulence gas is much more prevalent in the vegan and its composition has a fair share of the strong greenhouse gas methane, I predict the Greens will be soon wish to outlaw vegans along with cattle because of their deleterious effect of the digestive gases.

    We’ll all be eating dirt soon!

    • Thea

      CommanderBill3: re: “Considering that flatulence gas is much more prevalent in the vegan…” Says who? Where do you get your information?

      Here is some of what I know about the topic:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/12/05/beans-and-gas-clearing-the-air/

      Including: “The main source of gas, though, is the normal bacterial fermentation in our colon of undigested sugars. Dairy products are a leading cause of excessive flatulence, due to poor digestion of the milk sugar lactose, though even people who are lactose tolerant may suffer from dairy.

      Beans have been christened the musical fruit, but could it just be a lot of hot air? A randomized controlled crossover study published last week, … concluded “People’s concerns about excessive flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated.”

      Long-term, most people bulking up on high-fiber foods do not appear to have significantly increased problems with gas.”

      I think you are trying to be funny with your post, but I want to make sure that that (apparent) myth isn’t propagated with your humor.

      • CommanderBill3

        Thea it is rather common knowledge that fiber is a strong precursor to flatulence. Plant matter and a plant based diet has considerably more fiber than a meat diet. I googled vegetarianism, veganism and fiber in regards to flatulence and
        found literally hundreds of articles and listings. Denying what probably every vegan knows seems
        rather silly to me.

        • Thea

          CommanderBill3: “common knowledge” and “I googled…” I’m sure you understand that just because you find something on the internet doesn’t mean it is actually true. It seems to me that it would be silly to believe everything you read on google.

          I once did some google research into microwave cooking. The *vast* majority of “articles and listings” talked about the serious health problems associated with microwave cooking. Except that all those points are not true. After doing some real research, you can find that almost all of that “common knowledge” information that is repeated again and again – is in fact false or completely unsupported.

          Compare your google search to the article that I gave you, which really dives into this topic and includes links to the scientific studies to back it up. It’s odd to me that you would resort to google when you have actual scientific data to review. Did you even read my link and look at the studies. One of the studies linked to directly on that page addresses fiber:
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11985415
          That NutritionFacts article/page linked to in my original post above also explains the reasons why people often *think* (and thus may write articles and perpetuate myths) that being on a normal fiber diet is a problem. For example, getting to human-normal fiber levels might cause more gas during an initial transition period, but not long term.

          I’ve had a housefull crammed full of vegans (20+ people) in my small little living room for many a party over the last few years, and I can say through personal anecdotal experience on multiple occasions that there is no given flatulence problem for vegans.

          So again, let’s not perpetuate myths.

          • Charzie

            Some people just seem to be gassier than others, no matter what they eat! You hit on a key point tho Thea, about the “long term”. I find that in general whenever myself or anyone I know makes dietary changes, even when they are healthful, there is often some kind of digestive disruption…and gas is the one we can share! lol Okay, I can’t resist….a politically incorrect joke. Why do farts smell? So Deaf people can appreciate them too! (A Deaf friend shared that with me in ASL!)

          • Thea

            re: the joke. I smiled! :-)

    • Charzie

      “We’ll all be eating dirt soon!” Hmm…than can we stop taking B12? har har

  • Devin

    I love turmeric!! Bruised my rib 2 weeks ago playing basketball. Anyone who has experienced a bruised rib knows they can be excruciating!! I’ve been drinking pots of turmeric tea and noticing a REAL benefit! Love this stuff.

    My question — does it just help with pain and inflammation, or could it actually speed up recovery time?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Check out this video on curcumin vs. exercise! Other foods like nutritional yeast and berries and watermelon may also play a role in athletic performance.

      • Devin

        Thanks! I eat tons of nutritional yeast, and love watermelon, and have been having lots of cherries to help with the injury as well!

        I guess my question is this: in the study on recovery from surgery, was the turmeric group ONLY improving their pain versus control, or were they actually HEALING faster? Reduced pain is great, but it’d be even greater to be able to improve healing time! I feel fully healed and would love to say it’s because I focused on these anti-inflammatory plant foods!

        • 2tsaybow

          Don’t forget the fenugreek seed! It too is a great healer and it helps muscle strength. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/benefits-of-fenugreek-seeds/

          • Devin

            You know, I’ve been taking fenugreek too!! Man I guess I’m doing everything right.. Haha. No wonder I healed quickly :)

          • Charzie

            They make the most awesome sprouts too!!!

          • 2tsaybow

            Yes they do!

  • Psych MD

    If simply ingesting a little turmeric and pepper were all one needed to do to reap its benefits there wouldn’t be more than 8000 studies in Pub Med researching ways to actually make it available in therapeutically relevant amounts. Longvida is a brand developed by researchers at UCLA. Here is a link to independent studies: http://longvida.com/references/
    I personally take CurQfen because it has demonstrated extensive uptake in virtually all tissues, something which is impossible by simple dietary means.

    • HaltheVegan

      On your recommendation a few months ago, I ordered some CurQfen and have been taking that. The absorption studies of that product are very impressive, especially how it can cross the blood-brain barrier. I do still eat the turmeric powder (I tsp per day) in foods with black pepper and a small amount of oil, so between those two, I’m hoping to absorb enough curcumin to get the benefits as described in all the studies. Thanks for your recommendation.

      • Psych MD

        Glad to hear it. Were you able to read the entire study? Accessing it through Elsevier is expensive but the manufacturer will send you a free link It is quite fascinating.

        • HaltheVegan

          I’ve only been able to see the abstract and different summaries so far. I think I’ll check with the manufacturer for the free link … sounds fascinating … thanks for the info.

  • Joy

    How much fresh turmeric root would I use in a recipe in place of tune tic powder?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      I think 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder is equal to about 1 inch of the fresh root.

  • Joy

    how much tumeric was taken for cancer prevention studies?

  • Joy

    Seeing the animal (chimp, monkey?) all girded for surgery and being experimented on was disturbing. I think most of us r concerned about animal being used it this way; I know I am. Is this an issue Dr. Gregor could address?

    • Charzie

      I agree, it actually hurts. I’m sure the good Dr could very expertly address the issue, considering it’s part of his title…
      “A founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle
      Medicine, Dr. Greger is licensed as a general practitioner specializing
      in clinical nutrition. Currently he proudly serves as the public health
      director at the Humane Society of the United States.”

  • Hermelien

    Can u use it when you have addisson

  • Frannie

    Is that the same doctor who was accused of falsifying data at Memorial Herman in Houston? I note the spelling of the name is slightly different.

  • Charzie

    The whole turmeric/curcumin issue I find confusing. Time and time again, WHOLE foods have proven to be a much better source of the essentials than a specific ingredient, yet what gets tested is always an “extract”. I assume because it’s easier or more “scientific” to analyze an isolated compound? Even most vitamins extracted from their native source are either ineffective or harmful. The tendency is for us to want to borrow and capitalize on the most “potent” ingredients, but my instincts and limited experience tell me the whole food is the better option, with their myriad of co-factors. (Coincidentally, I recently planted some turmeric and noticed a little while ago it has leaves!) I doubt if we can ever fully comprehend or trump the wisdom of nature, God, whatever you call the universal force we are part of. (Look at where our arrogance has gotten us so far!)

    • http://metalrhino.com/ Scott

      This is a very good read: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/#!po=49.3377

      There are many more constituents in turmeric other than the awesome curcumin. So by consuming the fresh root &/or powder you’ll get these potential beneficial nutrients to.

      I suppose if you wanted to cover all bases, then taking a very good curcumin supplement along with fresh root / powder would be ideal.

  • heather9955

    After my hysterectomy all I did was juices and smoothies. Every time I had one, I put in ginger, turmeric, pineapple. I still drink them all the time. I took hardly any pain meds after the surgery. I made my hubby bring the blender to the hospital room. Cherries are also helpful for pain or achiness… in fact if I don’t eat them often.. i get old and cranky seemingly overnight. Black pepper mixed with curcumin or curry powder or turmeric ups the ability of the yellow stuff. I have these capsules of turmeric & black pepper.. they do work. My hubby has tons of pain due to his job and he takes them now & then. Boom pain gone & none of that kill your liver stuff that advil has going on.

  • Nicola

    Had to say, I find that monkey photo VERY disturbing.

  • http://www.buteykokent.co.uk/ Michael Lingard

    I was recommended an interesting website by a patient who has helped her horse, her dogs and herself with Turmeric. Produced bt an Australian vet! I would pass on this recommendation to others.

  • MiaRx

    I am delighted to learn that Tumeric will reduce my post-surgical pain and so I also ask… will you please educate me on which surgical antibiotics are relatively more kind to my microbiome?

    For my upcoming total knee replacement surgery (which is not at all elective in my case), there will be no way to avoid being given antibiotics. Are there particular strains of probiotics that are the optimal remedy for recovery from surgical antibiotic use? And if you will please point me to specific antibiotics to request that are less devastating to my gut’s microbiome than others, I will be supremely grateful. Or conversely, warn me of the most devastating antibiotics to request not be used in favor of better alternatives. I already have had a very bad physiological side effect from Levaquin in the past and so that is one I will certainly avoid.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/1576200379306419/ Leelu Mayflower

    do gallbladder flushes work. I have gallstones, no pain but it freaks me out and I love curry.

  • Randy Reutzel

    Doctor,
    FYI, papers by Bharat Aggarwal, formerly of MD Anderson, about curcumin’s activity probably should not be relied on:

    http://retractionwatch.com/2016/02/22/journal-retracts-7-papers-by-md-anderson-researcher-long-under-investigation/

  • Waqar Ahmed

    Dr. Greger – thank you for all your wonderful work. Would you please consider removing the animal experimentation photo and commentary. The animal-related content is abhorrent. Thank you so much.

  • Judy Fields Davis

    Thank you so much!

  • Curt

    My daughter is going in for scoliosis surgery and we asked the nurse about giving her turmeric afterwards. My wife thinks I’m nuts and of course the nurse’s knee jerk response was “no”.