How Turmeric (Curcumin) and Ginger Nearly Stopped My Heart on Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2019, Valentine’s Day Eve. At 7:00 a.m. my heart was half-stopped. I’d been on ginger for nearly two months and turmeric (curcumin) for two weeks. How were these herbs connected with severe arrhythmia?

This requires a bit of explanation.

Back in December, I’d started on ginger capsules, hoping they might have some beneficial effect on my massively swollen lymph nodes. Which they did. By mid-January, I’d gone through a hellish period of detox and seen the lymph glands shrink by a solid eighty percent. All that is detailed in another post, Ginger Root Lymph Node Cleanse Detox: TOTAL WAR WITHIN. After that point in time, the lymph glands started laughing at me as they’re wont to do, leveling off and then slowly beginning to swell right back up again.

Oh well, right?

But hey, try, try again. Near the end of January, I added turmeric (curcumin extract) capsules to my regimen. The product I chose had a wee bit more ginger in it as well as piperine extract (from black pepper) as turmeric is reported to work better with those two helpers than without. Unfortunately, no benefit whatsoever was noticed for nearly two weeks. The lymph glands (nodes) continued to re-swell, the malaise (lack of energy or enthusiasm) I’d felt for several weeks with ginger raised its lethargic head once again with the addition of turmeric. However, I decided to stay on the stuff through the month of February.

So much for the best laid plans of mice and men.

Sitting on the john at 7:00 a.m. this morning, I decided to multitask by taking my pulse at the same time. The result was shocking. I wound up not bothering to count heartbeats per minute because:

1. My heart would beat, thump-thump, for exactly two beats, but then–

2. It would skip not just one beat but a full count of two, meaning it was beating exactly half the time it should have been pounding away. So, half-stopped.

3. Experimentation on instinct revealed that this spooky phenomenon occurred when I was (a) leaning forward, (b) lying down on my left side (on the bed later, not on the toilet, which would be awkward), or (c) lying down on my right side, which is how I sleep most of the time, so uh-oh.

4. However, the heartbeat was regular and steady, no skips, when I was (a) erect, (b) leaning back, a frequent position in the recliner, (c) lying on my back, or (d) lying on my stomach.

5. All bets were off if I’d been doing anything at all strenuous such as…getting dressed. Then the arrhythmia was all over the place, even in the “better” body positions.

Huh. Can’t exactly count on a heart that only “beats right” when one is in the “perfect” body position at full rest, can one? It was clear the turmeric (curcumin) had tipped the scales. I’d noticed some mild arrhythmia earlier, while taking the ginger only, but add the two together and…whew!

But would I need to dump the ginger as well? Hm. Let’s see what ye olde Internet has to say. Oh. Both herbs are blood thinners. Both lower blood sugar. Yikes, both can encourage kidney stones! Ow! But back to the heart. Kidney stones can be agony but a dysfunctional heart can mean death. Big difference.

Aha. There have been some reactions like mine, though generally associated with super-high dosage, not the bottle-recommended supplement amounts I’d been using. Still…let’s look at a couple of quotes from the Net. The first is from nbcnews.com:

“…one thirty year old woman suffered a fatal outcome after receiving a turmeric-infused IV-drip holistic treatment. San Diego news outlet KGTV reported the woman died immediately from a heart attack after having the drip to treat her eczema.”

From stylecraze.com:

“High doses of ginger have been found to aggravate heart conditions.”

“It (ginger) can also lead to irregularities in the heartbeat.”

My heart rate has also been high the entire time I’ve been on ginger, let alone turmeric, so I certainly should have seen this coming. I just checked, 13 hours after the last doses of turmeric and ginger were taken. Pulse rate is 80, down four beats in the past four hours. Even in the “leaning over” position, a quick check found two skipped heartbeats in thirty seconds, a vast improvement from a few hours earlier. There is little doubt the improvement will continue as the herbs slowly flush from my body.

So, am I saying most people should avoid ginger and turmeric? Not at all. But I am saying that each of us is different and, had I not stopped taking these two herbs when I did, my heart might indeed have stopped on Valentine’s Day. For that reason, it pays to monitor one’s body closely when adding anything new to a long-established diet. That’s a rule I’ll try to follow more closely next time, and there will be a next time.

I’ve got some astralagus on order. Once my body is back to functioning normally, I’ll be giving that a try. My body is my laboratory. It’s simply a good idea not to blow the place up while running chemistry experiments.