What You Should Know Before Taking Turmeric While Pregnant

If you are pregnant, congratulations. If you are pregnant and constipated, so sorry. If, on top of that, every day at 3 a.m. muscles you never knew you had wake you up, angry and screaming, sincere condolences. If, as if things could not get worse, every week a new joint in your body celebrates pregnancy by gaining water weight, you must be desperately looking for relief. Have you considered taking turmeric while pregnant?

Maybe the only thing you know about turmeric is that Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra used it to ward off evil spirits at their wedding. Prepare to have your mind blown. The spice has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties, it is chock-full of antioxidants, and the spice has been scientifically proven to help ward off bone cancer (via ScienceDaily). At first glance, turmeric is nothing short of a miracle spice. But is taking turmeric during pregnancy safe? 

The untold dangers of turmeric during pregnancy

There are two things you should know before stocking your pantry with turmeric roots, supplements, powders, and teas. First, be careful where your turmeric comes from. A Stanford University study found that many Bangladeshi producers lace their turmeric with a lead-based compound in order to make the spice's color more vibrant. Lead is bad for your health in almost any context. Lead during pregnancy is particularly dangerous. It has been linked to gestational hypertension, spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, and impaired neurodevelopment (via the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). 

Second, in large doses, curcumin (turmeric's active ingredient) may trigger early labor and miscarriages (via Medical News Today). That's because it might act like estrogen, the hormone responsible for stimulating uterine contractions (via Parents). It's worth noting that both Parents and Medicinal News Today suggest that you'd have to ingest the spice in high dosages to provoke such a reaction. That said, a report published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry found that the body doesn't easily absorb turmeric. This, in turn, suggests that in order for turmeric to effectively relieve your pregnancy pains, you'd have to ingest it in high dosages. It's a bit of a catch-22. 

If you do decide against taking turmeric while pregnant, what are your alternatives to ease constipation, muscle pain, and swollen joints? Try the usual: warm baths, moderate exercise, and a lot of patience.