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Can I safely take turmeric if I am prone to forming kidney stones?

I began taking 500mg of turmeric twice a day about 2 weeks ago to help with arthritis pain.  My GP and GI docs said it would be fine to try it for 2-3 months to see if I improve.  I recently came across something that said turmeric can cause calcium oxalate (sp?) kidney stones.  I am prone to forming stones and have had numerous surgical procedures about 8-10 years ago to get rid of them.  Since then I have been taking a potassium citrate prescription med. to keep them from forming and I have been fine.  Both of these docs who said it would be OK did not treat me when I was going through these procedures but it is noted on my charts. I see the GI doc for lymphocitic colitis.  Perhaps these docs were not considering my kidney stone issues when they gave me the OK on the turmeric. Should I discontinue taking the turmeric?  I've taken it for the past 2 weeks. Do you think I have caused any stone formation in that amount of time?  Thank you.
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Avatar universal
I doubt anyone on here would know the answer.  Googling turmeric suggests that if your kidney stone problem is an oxalate problem, then turmeric might in fact increase the chances of additional kidney stones.  How much depends on the type of supplement -- the oxalate is in the turmeric powder used in cooking and in some supplements, but these days most turmeric supplements are standardizing for circumin, the ingredient thought to be most responsible for beneficial effects.  Depending on the ratio of circumin to turmeric powder in the supplement, you might have a problem and you might not.  As with most supplements, however, another question that is impossible to find answers to is whether any actual human being has ever been found that suffers the theoretical bad effects of taking a truly natural substance such as turmeric powder.  I think the issue is probably more complicate than you're going to be able to learn definitively, because oxalates are generally not a problem for most people -- the body handles them.  They are present in all green leafy vegetables, and you will find people telling you not to eat them because of that, but how your body deals with it determines the consequences, not the food.  To be safe, if your problem was an inability to handle oxalates, then you're going to want to limit turmeric powder to be safe because although the harm is only theoretical, that's all there is to go on at this point.  If your supplement is almost all circumin and not turmeric powder, there might not be much oxalate left in it, but of course, it should be mentioned that when you standardize an herb this way you're actually producing a drug nobody ever took before and there might be other unknown issues.  Also, if the colitis gives you problems, turmeric might be helpful and harmful, as it's a hot herb.  Again, you're not going to get a definitive answer because only patented substances have a lot of research on them.  Everything else has theoretical research but perhaps no single human ever having been found to have formed kidney stones because of turmeric.  Doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but means nobody ever found it happening.  
4 Comments
By the way, natural medicine practitioners think kidney stones are most likely the result of unabsorbed calcium from sources such as dairy or supplements containing calcium carbonate, for example.  The oxalate problem is only one way to get kidney stones.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. My kidney stone problem is a problem with oxalate.  I think I will stop the turmeric for now.  I am disappointed, as I thought this would help the arthritis. I certainly don't want kidney stone problems again. The calcium supplement I take is calcium citrate (not carbonate).  Since I already take a prescription potassium citrate (Urocit-K), I guess the turmeric would be keeping that from doing its job of breaking down the oxalate.
I'm not sure that's how it works.  I'm assuming you're taking the potassium for reasons I don't any idea of but also because calcium is an electrolyte and is in natural balance with potassium, so taking more potassium might block the absorption of calcium.  Remember, the stones are usually made of calcium.  Usually one would think of magnesium for this, but again, might be all kinds of reasons to take potassium.  The breaking down of oxalate is done by the digestive system, and I have no idea what potassium does for that.  There are a lot of natural substances that help with arthritis.  You don't mention the type of arthritis, though.  RA is an immune system disorder, while osteo is an inflammatory disorder caused by all sorts of things -- surgeries, injuries left untended, lack of exercise, and eating a diet lacking antioxidants and high in pro-inflammatory foods, such as dairy.  Turmeric works in two ways:  directly attacking inflammation much the same way ibuprofen does but much safer but also as a potent antioxidant, especially for the liver.  But don't expect miracles from it anymore than you would from ibuprofen.  It doesn't cure arthritis, it controls the pain by reducing inflammation when it works and through it's antioxidant effects.  Other natural anti-inflammatories abound, though turmeric is thought to be the most potent, it's usually combined with others for best results.  Again, which ones work the best depends somewhat on which type of arthritis you have, as does diet.  Ginger is also a potent antiinflammatory.  So is devil's claw, boswellia (Indian frankencense), proteolytic enzymes taken in between meals, glucosamine sulfate, hyalauronic acid (more actually to help the fluid that cushions the joints), and a host of others.  More than one way to try to skin the cat.  But to truly cure arthritis, if it's RA, don't know if there is a cure, and if it's osteo, theoretically if you ate a diet very rich in antioxidants, avoid pro-inflammatory foods, etc,. you can help with that one.  But cure?  Probably not.  And no guarantee any of this would work.  But if you were to be put on an anti-inflammatory program, a professional would probably not just put you on turmeric, you would probably be put on a combination of substances and an exercise program and a diet program.  There are also a lot of Chinese formulas depending on how your pulses test in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  So you still have a lot of options besides turmeric.  Best of luck.
Also, a lot of times pain isn't actually from arthritis, though you might be showing joint deterioration, it still might be nerve impingement from an injury or it might be, and usually is according to many physical therapists, muscle pain.  Again, many think they have arthritis but don't, and many who have it aren't hurting because of that but from another problem such as muscle strain.  As with everything it's more complicated than your doctors are going to tell you it is.  Each doc only knows what they study, and even often don't know much about that.  Peace.
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