The spice turmeric is extremely popular in natural health circles…and justifiably so. The bright yellow-orange curry ingredient is one of the healthiest things you can put in your body.
Since antiquity, it has been used in Asia to treat a wide range of illnesses.
Modern research confirms that turmeric and its extract, curcumin, are perhaps nature’s most potent anti-inflammatory substances. They have been shown to relieve arthritis pain, fight heart disease, improve cognition, and even treat cancer.
But a new study reveals a major problem. Some turmeric producers are poisoning the spice by adding lead to it.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin—it causes brain damage. After a person ingests it, it can end up being stored in blood, bone, and tissue, causing continual damage for years.
Lead exposure not only causes cognitive problems, it can trigger heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, stomach pain, mood disorders, headaches, and miscarriages. Lead is especially damaging to children because it can permanently stunt their brain development. 
Dr. Stephen Luby is a professor of medicine at Stanford University. He pointed out that, unlike other metals, “there is no safe consumption limit for lead.” That means it’s hazardous, even in the lowest amounts.
Why would anyone in their right mind add lead to turmeric?
The problem goes back to the 1980s. A massive flood in Bangladesh, one of the world’s leading producers of turmeric, leached the natural yellow color from the spice. The turmeric looked dull. The producers started adding lead chromate to brighten it up so they could sell it.
Dr. Luby and his colleagues discovered they never stopped. It was an easy way to ensure that turmeric looked the way consumers expected it to. “Turmeric,” in fact, means “yellow” in Bengali.
Dr. Jenna Forsyth was the paper’s lead author. She said, “People are unknowingly consuming something that could cause major health issues. We know adulterated turmeric is a source of lead exposure, and we have to do something about it.”
The study was published online in the journal Environmental Research.
Bangladeshis are not only poisoning people outside their country with exported turmeric, they are poisoning themselves. Another recent study shows Bangladeshis have elevated blood lead levels from local turmeric.
How to Tell if Your Turmeric is Safe
Make sure the turmeric you buy does not come from Bangladesh. Check the label. If it doesn’t have the country of origin, check the company’s website.
Dr. Forsyth said that the FDA has been aware of the lead issue. They have placed greater scrutiny on turmeric in recent years. “The risk is greatest if your turmeric is older,” she said.
She suggests throwing out old turmeric and replacing it with “one of the most mainstream brands.” 
Common brands not from Bangladesh include: Spice Islands, 365 Everyday Organic, and McCormick. All come from India.
Turmeric has remarkable health benefits. Just be sure you don’t negate them by consuming the wrong kind.
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