Outside of its usual place in curries and other dishes where it provides flavor and color, turmeric is used to treat arthritis, heartburn and stomach pain, according to WebMD. A powerful natural herb and anti-inflammatory, turmeric is also used to treat headaches, bronchitis, colds, fibromyalgia, ringworm and many other conditions. It can be taken internally as a supplement or applied to the skin to treat a variety of skin conditions.
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been studied widely, and as of 2014 has been shown to be possibly effective in treating osteoarthritis and stomach upset, according to WebMD. Curcumin has also most notably been studied in its connection to treating rheumatoid arthritis as well as alleviating some symptoms of skin cancer; however, as of 2014, the evidence of its efficacy is inconclusive.
There are no significant side effects to taking turmeric, according to WebMD. In rare cases, upset stomach, dizziness, diarrhea or nausea may occur. Because there has been little research on the effect of turmeric during pregnancy, it is not advisable to take it at medicinal doses while pregnant. People with gallbladder problems and gastroesophageal reflux disease need to avoid turmeric as it can increase symptoms. Because of its effects on the blood, both slowing clotting and increasing bleeding, its use must be avoided for two weeks prior to surgery.