What is Turmeric and Where is it From

Bright yellow/orange, incredibly tasty and even used to treat a myriad of health problems; turmeric is a spice you definitely want to keep in your pantry. However, a relationship between turmeric and lead poisoning has been brought into the light!

Yes, that’s right you read it correctly! Lead poisoning is being associated with turmeric consumption and it needs to stop right now. By looking at where turmeric comes from and how lead is getting into the creation process, we will be able to find a way around this disastrous revelation.

Turmeric is a spice derived from the ginger family (1). It has has been around for a very long time; being used as medicine, food flavoring and as a natural colorant.

A majority of turmeric is grown and produced in India (3), due to its ideal soil and weather conditions. This means that a majority of the turmeric we purchase in shops derives from Indian ground.  The devastating effect lead poisoning from turmeric is having can be seen through different studies.

One study into the effect lead spiked turmeric is having on children in Bangladesh is eye opening as ‘78% of 309 children aged 20–40 months evaluated in the Munshiganj District of Bangladesh had high blood lead concentrations(4). This correlates with the lead found in samples of turmeric from that region, where turmeric is a standard ingredient in everyday life. This study then went on to say that the presence of lead poisoned turmeric originating from India and Bangladesh were found in markets in Boston, MA, USA.

The scary truth behind lead found in turmeric in the USA made the FDA panic! Pushing them to do multiple tests on seven different turmeric chain brands. These brands can be seen in the image below or on the FDA website here.

Let’s take a look at why turmeric is becoming poisoned by lead. There are two possible answers to this;

  • The soil that the turmeric is grown in is infected with lead itself. This means that as the turmeric plant grows, it absorbs some of the lead in the ground.
  • The equipment being used to prepare the turmeric is coated in the lead. During the process of either cleaning or grinding turmeric, some of the equipment may have a covering of lead that is transferable to the product (6).

Even though these two solutions seem highly possible, it is important to take note that different brands of organic turmeric were tested and they all came back negatively to the lead test (7). This means that it could be a particular type of insecticide that inorganic turmeric farmers use on their crops that cause the high levels of lead. But nothing can be for certain until proper testing is carried out.

What is Lead Poisoning

Lead has been around for a very long time, even longer than the traces of turmeric. ‘The earliest written accounts of lead toxicity have been found in Egyptian papyrus scrolls’ (8).

You probably remember learning about how ladies in the 18th century used to apply lead to their faces to make them appear pale and delicate, pale skin represented the life of a sedentary woman, someone who didn’t need to spend much time outside doing hard labor. However, what they didn’t know was that this vein attempt to look attractive was killing them, causing many deaths (9).

Lead poisoning is highly dangerous and can cause a huge amount of health problems, such as;

  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal cramps
  • aggressive behavior
  • constipation
  • sleep problems
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • loss of developmental skills in children
  • loss of appetite

  • fatigue
  • high blood pressure
  • numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • memory loss
  • anemia
  • kidney dysfunction

Lead poisoning can be extremely detrimental to children, a large percentage of lead poisoning reports are from paint drying in houses where children are around. It is particularly harmful to the developing brain and nervous system of fetuses and young children (10).

The human body does not need to lead to survive, so the excess intake is awful for you. And yet, the FDA still refuse to give out a statement saying just how much turmeric you would have to consume to have adverse effects on your body! Who knows how much turmeric you may consume before falling ill!

How to Prevent Lead Poisoning Through Turmeric

  • As mentioned before, try buying organic turmeric. It has yet to show any traces of lead.
  • Try to avoid any brands where turmeric is grown or imported from Bangladesh or India; this could increase the chances of high lead traces. Also, avoid the brands found on the FDA website.
  • Why not try growing your own, here’s how!

It is clear through different studies conducted in India and Bangladesh that lead poisoning from turmeric is a definite problem. However, no cases of lead poisoning in the United States, where traces of lead in turmeric were found, have been revealed. It is recommended to try and avoid using any turmeric which may be likely to use turmeric.  

If you believe you could potentially have lead poisoning them please get in contact with your doctor as soon as possible!