Image Credit: Pixabay. This image has been modified.

How to Treat Lupus with Turmeric

Different autoimmune diseases tend to target different organs. If our immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in our pancreas, we can end up with type 1 diabetes. If it attacks our thyroid gland, we can end up with hypothyroidism. But, in the autoimmune disease lupus, our immune system attacks the very nucleus of our cells, often producing antibodies and attacking our DNA itself. So, lupus can damage any organ system and result in almost any complication. Women are nine times as likely to get it, and the peak age of diagnosis is too often at the peak of life. Hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of Americans suffer from this dreaded disease. One of the most common organ-threatening manifestations is kidney inflammation, occurring in as many as half of the patients.

Kidney inflammation is also one of the most serious effects of lupus, caused by the disease itself “or as a result of intense immunosuppressive drug toxicity.” Chemotherapy drugs like Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), for example, can have severe, life-threatening side effects that may include leukemia and bladder cancer, and many women lose their hair and become permanently infertile. There is a desperate need for better treatment options.

As I show in my video Fighting Lupus with Turmeric: Good as Gold, oral supplementation of turmeric decreases proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure—the cardinal clinical manifestations in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory (meaning, untreatable) lupus kidney inflammation––according to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The study looked at proteinuria, the spilling of protein into the urine, “an ominous prognostic sign.” In the control group, three people got better, three people got worse, and the rest pretty much stayed the same. In the turmeric group, one got worse, one stayed the same, but the rest all got better.

Note that the researchers used turmeric, the whole spice, and not curcumin, which is an extracted component often given in pill form. They took women with out-of-control lupus and had them take a quarter teaspoon of turmeric with each meal for three months. From my local supermarket, that would come out to be about a nickel a dose, compared with $35,000 a year for one of the latest lupus drugs. Which of the two treatments do you imagine doctors are more likely to be told about?


For more on the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric, see:

What about its anti-cancer effects?

For practical considerations, see Boosting the Bioavailability of Curcumin and Who Shouldn’t Consume Curcumin or Turmeric?.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


63 responses to “How to Treat Lupus with Turmeric

Comment Etiquette

On NutritionFacts.org, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. NutritionFacts.org is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

                  1. So Turmeric and Lupus just became intertwined with the lyrics of
                    Hungry Like The Wolf

                    In touch with the ground
                    I’m on the hunt down I’m after you
                    Smell like I sound I’m lost in a crowd
                    And I’m hungry like the wolf
                    Straddle the line in discord and rhyme
                    I’m on the hunt down I’m after you
                    Mouth is alive with juices like wine
                    And I’m hungry like the wolf

                    1. Thought I would add in a mnemonic device.

                      Appreciated the pun, Tom!

                      I agree with Liisa, you need a skillful wordsmith moniker.

                    2. I am at a store in the dressing room buying an outfit to wear to a baby shower and what are the chances that I would walk in and those exact words from Hungry Like a Wolf would be playing.

                      I don’t dver go shopping except for groceries. I haven’t been to a clothes store for a year or something like that.

                      Laughing.

                      A reminder to not put the whole spice jar of turmeric in my lentil loaf.

              1. Nancy, how ’bout Fumbles NopunIntended? He could leave off the “Mr.” ’cause if we glance at his mugshot, we can already guess he’s a Mr.

                ‘Course it’s true nowadays you never can tell from just looking at a pic, what with gender changes ‘n all.

    1. I wouldn’t put much faith in what Webmd has to say as they are known to be biased to directing drugs to users that are sold by their sponsors, and one anecdotal case is not much.

      1. Sure but they do say that turmeric seems to be safe in most cases which doesn’t suggest any great bias. And the study cited by Dr G employed only small amounts of turmeric.

        I personally wouldn’t assume that, because small daily amounts of turmeric appear to be helpful and safe, upping the dosage would be better still. Even if the report is anecdotal (and WebMD makes it clear that turmeric was not definitely proven to be causal in that particular case), some caution may be wise.

      1. Would appreciate knowing how to take the turmeric with each meal. Does it mix well into water? How was it used in the study? Was it added into the food?

        1. Lida,

          That is a good question.

          I have learned that it mixes well with tomato paste, tomato sauce, tomato juice, tomato soup.

          I use it in Chili with other spices. Also Lentils and lentil loaf tend to be good at being so bland that they get you to use more spices.

          People put it in rice dishes and with tofu scrambles and soups and smoothies and tea or use it on root vegetables.

          Lots of people are doing Golden Milk.

          Here is a recipe for a
          Spiced Vegan Golden Milk

          2 Cups Unsweetened Plant Milk like almond.
          1-2 Tbs Maple Syrup to taste.
          1/2 Tsp Ground Turmeric.
          1/8 Tsp Cinnamon.
          Pinch of Nutmeg.
          Pinch of Cloves.
          Pinch of Black Pepper.

          My advice would be to look at the spices in golden milk and the spices in chili and those are things it goes with.

            1. I say that because Tomato paste was my “training wheel food” for bringing in Turmeric and Lentils caused me to start pouring it in rather than just putting a tiny bit.

              I drank some Turmeric tea and didn’t like it, but people do drink it. If I had just put it in warm water and dissolved it, I might have put up with it as if it was a medicine for a while, but actually enjoying it has me buying spice jars full of it and that is so much better than putting up with it.

              I still haven’t done Golden Milk, because I am not sure I would like it. I love Chili and am happy that I actually eat Turmeric and know myself so well that I know that if I make it unpleasant, I will stop.

              I watched a video on Sweet Potatoes where a person just ate them for a month and didn’t even prepare them differently. Just all cooked the same way and by the end of the month, the person was holding their nose and having a gag response and said, “The sad part is that I actually like Sweet Potatoes” and I should not have watched that, because I am sensitive to suggestion and have packages of Sweet Potatoes, which I haven’t eaten in 3 weeks and he got me to feel sick about Sweet Potatoes.

              I need to not buy them and just eat some at the holiday and have my next experiences be positive.

            1. Thank you Lida!

              That is so sweet of you to say!

              I went through an internal battle to eat turmeric.

              I started with a tiny pinch in a tomato paste and couldn’t taste it and that worked for me.

          1. I just use turmeric and pepper in place of salt and pepper. It’s also a good excuse to make a curry.

            However, the term ‘Golden Milk’ has an unfortunate connotation which makes it impossible for me to take seriously.- let alone drink.

  1. Hello, what is 3gr of turmeric, “spoonwise”? I do not have a kitchen scale. Would it be half a teaspoon?

    My husband and I were taking about half a tsp of ground turmeric a day. We have noticed that, depending where you bought it from, the shades of yellow differ. We never bothered. However, I read some article saying that turmeric is mostly imported and people were mixing lead to increase the weight for bigger profits. Initially, I thought it was just paranoia but those articles kept popping up. I am old enough to believe people are capable of anything to turn a profit. We have suspended our turmeric intake. Does anyone know if there is a test to detect heavy metals in food or a reputable brand of turmeric and other spices? Thanks!

      1. Tom,
        Just checked out consumerlab and they indicated that all the ground turmeric they sampled were relatively free of arsenic, lead, and cadmium. However they were loaded with insect parts. The cleanest sample was Whole Foods 365 ground turmeric.

  2. Hi, Carolina! Yes, 3g of turmeric would be about 1/2 tsp, I think. If you are concerned about contaminants, you might consider buying fresh turmeric, instead of powdered, or buying from a source that does independent testing of its products. This topic has been covered on NutritionFacts. You can find everything on this site about turmeric here:
    https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/turmeric/
    I hope that helps!

    1. Christine:

      Is there any evidence/treatments for the LA Factor?

      (Lupus Anticoagulant Factor. LA Factor is NOT Lupus and it promotes blood clots in vivo)

      Thank you

        1. Well, people do use it topically for skin problems and, erm, lady problems (how’s that for coy?) perhaps mixed with aloe vera gel. So, when you wrote about sprinkling it on something or other I wasn’t sure what exactly you meant.

          1. Still, it’s interesting that you even thought “lady problem” at all. ;-)

            Nope, no skin or “lady” problem that would require a concoction using turmeric powder.

  3. Any comments or advice on using turmeric essential oil? The EO co I buy from just recently came out with it and I’d like to know if there are any bonafide studies on that.

    I have also juiced turmeric quite a bit (in the past)-they sell the raw root at my local Asian supermarket. Any info on the juice vs the powder?

    1. Yeah, I told my friend to use turmeric and she went straight to the essential oils.

      Much higher dose.

      If you start up at the top of this with Tom’s warning to not take too much, I would want to know the safety before using it that way.

      My friend uses essential oils for everything and I use the spice jars. I did try the essential oils like lemon and orange – but even one drop in a tall glass of water was way too much and I didn’t enjoy it. I can’t even imagine using an already strong flavor like turmeric that way. I guess it would be to use a capsule or a finger on the top of the mouth, but I have come to enjoy turmeric in my chili and anything with tomato sauce or tomato paste.

      I haven’t enjoyed essential oils yet, except a few I have used as perfumes. I tried them in my laundry and I couldn’t smell them at all. I tried them versus putting out a bowl with lavender for room freshening and put a few drops from an orange and I liked the natural lavender and orange smell better than the oils. I guess it is just me.

      1. I eat an orange and end up wanting to just sit there and smell my fingers. I put slices of citrus in water and love it.

        I put one tiny drop of essential oils in and it is overpowering and I don’t enjoy the taste or the smell or the psychological experience.

        I might be sensitive.

        1. The thing is, my Keto friend sells essential oils and she and her husband go through bottle after bottle of it to help them with pain and depression and anxiety and I have not had even one second of pain and use vegetables for depression and would use things like seeds and turmeric for anxiety. I feel like WFPB did everything their essential oils did, plus some and some of the kits they were selling at the essential oils party were $1000. I would be causing anxiety for myself if I did it.

          I did try them on my dog for his cancer for a little while, but my friend got cancer using them multiple times per day for all these months, so I don’t see them as effective enough to spend the money she has spent and I think her clogged arteries are going to cause her to need back surgery again and I know that she isn’t interested in WFPB and I have a whole bunch of little bottles of essential oils, which I don’t use and if I ever do get pain again, I would pull out my infrared heat lamp or my Micropulse ICES device or my Cold Laser and she wasn’t interested in any of those and I know that people think differently about things.

          Anyway, back to your question, which I veered away from. Months ago, Tom showed me a link where ingesting Frankincense essential oil could cause liver problems, so using it as a rub is probably part of the answer for you if you choose to go that way.

          1. Essential oils are powerful drugs even if they aren’t prescription medicines.

            Back when I smoked cigars, I used to suck on mints containing peppermint oil. Smetimes I’d go through a pack a day. Afetr a couple of years, I became nauseous every time I had a peppermint and my my liver funtion tests were really out of kilter. The liver has a hard time clearing such toxins out of the system and they can build up after chronic use. I was lucky that I didn’t have more serious problems. Ths is despite the fact that peppermint oil is often used in eg IBS treatment.
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546250/
            https://www.poison.org/articles/2014-jun/essential-oils

  4. Hello Doc,
    I’ve been taking my ¼ teaspoon of Turmeric each day with a glass of V8 Juice which people are telling me isn’t good. The V8 is so bad the Turmeric is rendered useless. Could you advise me what you think?

    Thanks,
    Neil

    1. Neil,

      The sodium in V-8 is the problem.

      Do you have a blender? You can make your own. Even if it is a V-3 or V-4 or V-5

      They use:

      beets
      carrots
      celery
      lettuce
      parsley
      tomatoes
      spinach
      watercress

    2. Nell,
      Suggest try making your own vegetable juice. I find that the juice I make tastes much better than V8 and doesn’t have the salt. I use about 6-8 oz of filtered water to which I add sliced beets, carrot, kale and/or spinach, tomato, tablespoon or so of ground flax seed and shelled pumpkin seeds (seeds optional) and sometimes a 1/2 cup of blueberries and tri-berry blend, then I add 1/3 of a tsp of turmeric powder with some black pepper. For all this to turn to ‘juice’, you will need a high powered blender such as a Vita-mix or Ninja (2 horsepower, 1500 watts model).

      1. B’ Healthy,

        Do you use fresh tomatoes or canned or boxed?

        And if fresh, which kind?

        I really might do it and like the pumpkin seed add in.

        I am always looking for ways to increase my vegetable intake and tomato products are relatively inexpensive.

  5. What about turmeric and other autoimmune diseases? What about hypothyroidism? When are you going to share a video on hypothyroidism? There is so much controversy on the internet. I am constantly checking your webpage for more information on the topic but there is still nothing :(

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This