Turmeric Tolerance: Can You Become Tolerant to Curcumin?

Turmeric Tolerance

The Short Answer:

Turmeric tolerance is a term referring to gradual desensitization to the effects of turmeric or its active compounds (i.e. curcumin). Primarily, these effects would include a reduction in inflammation and joint pain, improved brain function, and other studied benefits of turmeric. However, is there such a thing as ‘turmeric tolerance’? The answer is most likely no. There is no human evidence that we know of that currently supports the notion that you could build a tolerance to turmeric or any of its active compounds. If anything, turmeric’s anti-inflammatory benefits become even more noticeable over time.

What is Supplement Tolerance?

Tolerance is a term loosely thrown around in the fitness & health community, but what does it mean exactly?

Simply put, tolerance is the gradual diminishment of effects (be it beneficial or detrimental) of the ingested substance due to repeated use.

You could build a tolerance to many different compounds, the most notable being psychoactive drugs like caffeine.

As Wikipedia put it;

Drug tolerance or drug insensitivity is a pharmacological concept describing subjects’ reduced reaction to a drug following its repeated use. Increasing its dosage may re-amplify the drug’s effects; however, this may accelerate tolerance, further reducing the drug’s effects.


Tolerance is a natural biological process. It happens when your body adjusts to the continual presence of the foreign substance. As a result, you no longer feel its effects like you used to.

In people who take supplements, tolerance is a common occurrence. More so amongst those who take so-called “nootropics,” or brain supplements. These often come with various psychoactive benefits that diminish in strength and duration after a certain period of repetitive use.

Now that you get the idea of what tolerance is and how it works, let’s move on to the main question of this article; can you build a tolerance to turmeric? Do you lose on turmeric and curcumin’s benefits over time?

Do You Lose Turmeric’s Benefits Over Time?

No, turmeric’s benefits do not diminish over time. On the contrary; the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of turmeric in particular get stronger with consistent use. What’s more, there is evidence that turmeric’s active compounds increase the levels of Nerve Growth Factors (NGF) in the brain; fighting the cognitive decline in the elderly. [1] This is an effect that can’t be achieved overnight; it takes weeks if not months of consistent intake of high-quality turmeric to build up to this level of benefit.

So, Can You Build Tolerance to Turmeric or Curcumin?

It is unlikely that you will build a tolerance to turmeric. The available evidence doesn’t support this notion. It is difficult if not impossible to become tolerant of anti-inflammatory foods in general.

This is due to the fact that the foods which support healthy regulation of your body’s inflammatory processes work by controlling the ratio of fatty acids in your cell membranes. One example besides turmeric is omega-3 fatty acids which are integrated into your cellular membranes where they assist with inflammatory reactions, such as the production and secretion of cytokines. This is not something you can really build a tolerance to!

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  1. Dikmen M. Comparison of the Effects of Curcumin and RG108 on NGF-Induced PC-12 Adh Cell Differentiation and Neurite Outgrowth. J Med Food. 2017 Apr;20(4):376-384. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2016.3889. Epub 2017 Mar 24. PMID: 28338387.

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