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The Wonder-Herb: Can Turmeric Replace Aspirin?

Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

Turmeric has found its place in the spotlight — seen as the “wonder-herb” of the spice world these days. Just Google it, and it will seem as if turmeric is the panacea we’ve all been searching for: anti-inflammatory, anticancer, a natural antibiotic, full of antioxidants, and even a blood thinner.

Is there anything that turmeric cannot do?

The risk of having a stroke or heart attack in America is still really high — so high, in fact, that the United States Preventive Task Force continues to recommend aspirin as a preventive measure for giant swathes of the middle-aged population.

This has led some very astute ladies and gentlemen to wonder, Can I swap my daily aspirin for a pinch of turmeric?

In short — it’s probably not a good idea.

While some studies show that turmeric can interfere with blood thinning medications and cause too much thinning, other studies find the opposite. It doesn’t appear that there’s a great understanding of just how much turmeric is able to thin the blood.

And then there’s the problem of standardization. Buying a bottle of 81mg aspirin in any drug store, and taking it daily will result in the same amount of blood thinning. Because herbal supplements aren’t regulated nearly as much as pharmaceuticals, there’s no guarantee that you’re getting the same amount of effect between different brands of turmeric, or even between different bottles by the same manufacturer.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate turmeric into your diet for its other health benefits.

If you’re dying to get off of your daily aspirin, ask your doctor what you can do to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s likely he or she will tell this: don’t smoke, eat a healthy whole foods diet (heavy on the veggies), and exercise 30 minutes per day at least.

Turmeric and Aspirin Sources: NCBI, University of Maryland, Nutrition Journal, NCBI 2