Last month, a 30-year-old woman died after receiving a turmeric injection from a naturopathic practitioner in San Francisco, CA. According to local authorities, the woman, who was identified as Jade Erick, received the injection as an alternative treatment for her eczema. Upon receiving the injection, however, Ms. Erick became unresponsive and later died of “severe anoxic brain injury secondary to cardiopulmonary arrest, most likely due to turmeric infusion,” as per the medical examiner’s report. Ms. Erick’s death was ruled accidental and no criminal charges were filed against the Doctor that performed the injection.
Turmeric has long been used by naturopaths to treat a wide variety of health concerns, including inflammation, arthritis, stomach issues, and even cancer. Until recently, turmeric was only available in capsule form, teas and powders. But after several studies showed promising results when a solution of turmeric was injected into lymphoma cells, using the spice intravenously began growing in popularity among the alternative medicine community. But with Ms. Erick’s recent passing, the safety of such intravenous usage has now been called into question.
In an interview with NBC News, naturopathic doctor Mark Stengler of San Diego remarked that intravenous turmeric usage “…hasn’t been well studied. It’s more theoretical, so it’s more investigational.”
Taking too much turmeric can be dangerous—WebMD cites a case where abnormal heart rhythms occurred in an individual taking 3,000mg of the spice daily—so it’s possible that intravenous injections may deliver too high of a dose for some people. Additionally, conditions such as diabetes or gallbladder disease can be aggravated by the spice. The medical examiner for Ms. Erick’s case stated in the autopsy report that Ms. Erick had several pre-existing conditions at the time of her injection, including pre-diabetes.
Currently, medical studies show turmeric may be helpful for three conditions—osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, and itchy skin. It has been deemed medically ineffective for 30 additional ailments for which it was previously thought to offer some benefit. While turmeric is generally safe to consume as part of a healthy diet, it’s important to discuss any other usage of the spice with your doctor. Turmeric supplementation may or may not be right for you, but it’s always best to confer with a healthcare professional before taking steps to improve your health.