Turning yellow

Very busy days. No time to do research, no time to post. My cytogenetics draft is driving me mad, so I have set it aside for a few days, as my father wisely taught me to do. (The only problem with that is that I now have a HUGE file filled to the brim with unfinished or unpublished drafts…eh!) At any rate, today I will address another issue, one that has popped up again recently.


Last month I received a message from a myeloma list friend informing me that she began taking curcumin because her IgA was steadily increasing. On curcumin, she wrote, her IgA was still increasing but at a lower rate, which she found encouraging.


At that point she was taking three grams of curcumin a day. When she tried increasing to four grams, she noticed that, and I quote, yellow dye was being excreted from my skin. I noticed it when I dried my face and there was yellow on the towel. I also noticed that my nails were yellow. I know you have been taking curcumin at a higher dose for quite a while and wondered if you had that side effect and whether it bothered you if it did. In any case, I’ve reduced the dose to 2 grams a day and at that dose it seems OK–no yellow nails.


Last year, a blog reader/dear friend also reported a similar problem with the colour yellow. He was sweating yellow during the night…to the point of staining a brand new set of sheets.


Then, just a couple of days ago, I received a contact message from a blog reader informing me that her husband seems to be turning yellow. It was time for me to look into the matter.


The first of the three cases may be connected with the actual handling of curcumin, although my friend didn’t think so. But, in addition to being used for many medicinal purposes in India, turmeric (from which curcumin is extracted) is also used as a textile dye. Very true, curcumin stains like crazy. Whenever I handle the yellow-orange powder, I stain everything I touch. No matter how careful I am, curcumin always “outsmarts” me. My hands turn yellow. Everything I touch or wear turns yellow. And one day, jumping onto the kitchen counter just as I was measuring out my daily amount of curcumin powder, Piccolo, my male cat, managed to stain the white underside of his paws. Eh, he didn’t care for that at all and almost licked himself into a trance. His paws remained yellow for a few days…he was very upset.


Well, I finally did an online search to see if I could come up with an explanation of sorts. Almost immediately, I found a thread that dealt with this problem. Super!, I thought. Someone reported that Within 8 hours of taking one Curcumin capsule, however, the fingers on my right hand will begin to yellow along with small yellow splotches on the palm. The real strange thing is, my mother developes the exact same yellowing on her right hand. I know it’s not from handling the capsules, so does anyone have any clue what is causing this?


Other thread readers offered various suggestions and ideas, but then, at the end, the person who had introduced the yellowing topic confessed: Let the truth be told. I am a moron. Yep, it was just from the excess powder that was outside the capsules. It was even all around the top of the bottle, so simply opening it would get a small amount of the residue on my hand. I also know why I only noticed it in the morning. My apartment is lit with “yellow” light so I couldn’t see it. It was only until I went out on my deck in the morning with my coffee that I could notice the staining!


I reported this story because I thought it might be useful: even curcumin capsules can stain your fingers yellow. It still doesn’t seem to explain my three blog readers’ “yellowing” experiences…

In conclusion, all I can say is that I have never had inexplicable yellow sweat, yellow skin or yellow anything… The yellowing of my hands, face and clothes has always been caused by my own carelessness.

I am puzzled, I confess. I thought that perhaps those affected by yellowing should have their liver function tested (always a good idea, as part of a regular check-up)…I should note, though, that curcumin has a protective effect on the liver. I give up.

Any other thoughts?


  1. Thank you for your latest post- always interesting!!!
    I have been eating 3000mg Omega 3, 3 x 400 EEcG, 200mg Resveratol AND 16 capsules of Turmeric Extract ( NSI about 550g per capsule) as an midmorning “snack” every day for quite some time now. I also went through periods of taking them in the evening without the EECG: Anyway, I had never any of the complication mentioned – however -I feel sometimes like an ostrich eating an radio, as the pills do sometime simply stick in my neck.
    Best regards and a wonderful Sunday to everybody

    1. It will also leave a yellow color in your intestines, and when the Gastro looks he thinks you’ve been taking Laxatives, which they don’t want you taking for Gastro conditions. MiraLax or Linzess are what you are allowed.

  2. For over 2-1/2 years my wife took over 8 grams per day of curcumin, divided equally over three meals. Never once did I notice any yellow staining on her skin anywhere on her body, and she was checked all over every day, as a bed-sore inspection. Bowel movements were always yellow, of course.
    However, for the first year I opened capsules and mixed the dry powder into a tablespoon of fish oil and that mixture went into her fruit smoothy, or other pureed food. That was always a messy operation and invariably the stone counter got yellow stains all around my work area, as did my hands, and the refrigerator handle. Both required daily scrubbing with alcohol or alcohol hand gel to remove the yellow. Soap and water hardly touchs it.
    But finally I wized up and bought the curcumin in bulk and simply spooned in her daily portion out of a jar which held the bulk powder. The mess stopped. Cheaper, too.
    I share your belief, Margaret, and feel the yellow stains come from handling the curcumin and not from anything exuding from the skin. But some people might weep some out, even though my wife never showed any such thing. I did have her liver function checked every month, due to the large curcumin dose she was taking, but the liver enzymes were always OK.

    1. Gastro thought the yellow stain in the stool was from taking Laxatives. Docs are not versed in alternative herbal/vit/min health treatments.

  3. No, I can’t imagine and have never experienced the orange sweating, but I don’t sweat much. Of course I could never take garlic ( the smelly version) for that reason, making my skin stink of garlic. The sweated garlic would occur within hours and I think that happens to everyone. But that shows that a supplement could excrete through the skin. And anyone going through menopause would be sweating much more.

    Funny story:
    When I had my second colonoscopy, was after I started curcumin. I had not yet started the curcumin when I had the first colonoscopy (and had 5-6 benign tumors removed with the first one). So on the re-check it cost me extra because they had to send the tissue sample off to a special lab because “it looked abnormal”. It didn’t occur to me at the time to tell them I might have caused my internal organs to be bright orange. (; (And no tumors the second time around).

  4. Hi

    The only thing I can think of is that the dose is maybe too high for some people, as we are all different. When the body is trying to get rid of something it will excrete it via the easiest method and of course sweating is one way. It could be that it is carrying toxins out with it. Yeh! I have had occassions when having had a deep back massage, I get a rash of spots, which clear up after a couple of days. I have been told it is because the massage caused my body to detox too quickly and it was the quickest way out for the rubbish. I have learnt over the last four years that all the things I try out should be built up slowly so as not to stress the body too much, as this is going to be counter productive. Of course as my myeloma is smouldering I feel I have that luxury.

    Other than those thoughts I don’t know, of course, it does show that the curcumin is going to every part of your body, which may be good. I think I would ask my doctor to check my bloods etc just to make sure.

    Love and good health to you all


  5. my mom takes curcumin 3600 mg a day. she just had cold and was sweating a lot, next morning noticed yellow stein on a pillow. I research that phenomenon but I could not find anything.

  6. I have worked up to 4800mg of curcumin a day, which I take with flaxseed oil. I drop the flaxseed capsuls into a cup of hot water to soften the capsul. Fallowed by a cup of HOT Green Tea. The temp of the water and length of time in is “tricky” sometimes the oil starts oosing out before I can take it.
    I want to buy curcumin in bulk, but don’t know how to measure it. Do you use a measuring spoon? 1/4 tsp per capsul.
    I was diagnosed with (Smoldering) MM in Sept of 2008. Totally non secreting and no symptems. I feel very lucky that my Onc kept running tests instead of sending me home, come back in a year. Now that I know what I am dealing with I can fight this disease.

  7. Hi there

    I am currently in my first year studying medicine at Cambridge, and I believe that I can help you with some of your queries. The yellow colour that you describe results from the binding of antibodies, most commonly IgA, to a small molecule known as vitamin B2 or riboflavin. The antibodies are soluble, and IgA is commonly found in secretions such as tears and saliva and occasionally sweat. This means that the complex formed will literally turn the entire body yellow.

    Because of the chemistry involved, you need to have rather high levels of both the antibody and riboflavin before any effect is noticed. Once you reach the threshold, you will ‘suddenly’ turn extremely yellow. Because people living with myeloma have heightened IgA anyway, all that is required is excess riboflavin in the blood.

    For example, Wally, I noticed that you were providing your wife with fish oil. This is an excellent source of riboflavin, which is one of the reasons it has been associated with a general increase in health. However, it was just enough riboflavin to bind with your wifes antibodies and turn her fluids yellow.

    Unfortunately I don’t study pharmacology until next year, so I can’t tell you about the interactions of curcumin. However, I would be willing to bet that in one way or another it increases the riboflavin in the bloodstream, either by stimulating absorption in the intestines, reducing cellular storage or sequestion or by any many other more indirect routes (the biochemistry is rather complex here!)

    Anyways, I hope that helps and I wish you all the best of health

  8. I have been taking curcumin supplements for over a year, but in the last month my fingers have yellow stains and it has been driving me crazy, until I read this webpage and figured out it must be the curcumin. I don’t know if I should stop taking it or not -if it is bad fo rme if it is turning me yellow??? Does anyone know if that means I have too much?

  9. Hi Debbie, do you wash your hands carefully after handling the curcumin capsules (curcumin powder is even messier, of course, but one would expect that…!)? Capsules frequently have a powdery residue on them…we may not be able to see it, but it’s there. In fact, I have noticed that some brands have more powder residue than others. I myself recently stained a favourite sweatshirt…and I always think I am being super careful! So my opinion is that you may have received a slightly messier batch of curcumin this time, that’s all. See if washing your hands takes care of the problem.

  10. I’ve been taking Curcuman for a year. For the first 10 months, on 6000mg per day for extreme hand and wrist pain (with distortion, which did clear up), I actually reduced the dose to 2400….and often, every other day, taking it only when symptoms reappear. Yet…for the last month, my face, neck, and hands, principally…are yellow, and leave yellow deposits on my pillow… my blouses…even my cell phone. I have done NOTHING different in handling Curcuman. If Luke, above, is right…that this yellow is the binding of antibodies, most commonly IgA, to a small molecule known as vitamin B2 or riboflavin…is this good or bad. Are the bound antibodies carrying out toxins with them? Or am I sacrificing immune support when combating the effects of inflammation? Because you are WRONG that this is a result of improper handling, as my case CLEARLY shows. This is a very important question for me and others here. It isn’t about whether I’m vexed by yellow clothes. It’s about whether in treating one symptom related to immune dysfunction, I may inadvertently I may be damaging my overall immune function. Please don’t treat this as if it were a “stain” question. It is a health question and deserves a serious answer.

  11. Been taking 500mg curcumin, one capsule a day for three weeks to help with hip and back pain. Over the past week I have been getting night sweats and wake up to yellow stained sheets and pillow. I am worried now whether this is ok or not!

    1. My husband and I were taking two turmeric capsules (with black pepper–I think 500 mg) a day and we started noticing yellow stains on our white carpet. We finally figured out we were sweating it out of our feet, although he more than I. Needless to say we quit taking it. I used to take a teaspoon of the spice with honey and never had an issue. I have psoriasis and would like to take it but we just bought a new home and I am worried about staining our new carpet

      1. I too have been taking 2 turmeric capsules per night for RA. I first started noticing yellow staining on my hands that would not wash off, but noticed yellow on my cell phone. It has now progressed to night sweats at night with yellow stains on my clothes. And just recently I noticed yellow stains on the back of a shirt I wore the other day. I thought I was going crazy!!! And trying to figure out the cause…frustrating!!! Then it dawned on me that the turmeric is the color of the stains. What Luke says makes sense and too question if we are causing more damage by taking it if we are getting the staining. I’m going to stop it and see what happens and bring it up to my doc at the next visit. Finding everyone reporting this makes me feel a little bit better. Thanks!!!

  12. Hey! I’ve been taking Solgar curcuma/turmeric root extract 400mg once per day and I found my left hand (palm) having a yellow (~3cm area) stain always in the morning. First I thought it as a bruce. Then I got really scared and thought I was having a liver problem. Thanks for the article, now I can sleep again. 🙂

  13. I was Googleing, trying to figure out why my sensative skin is yellowish. My urine is bright yellow as well. At first I thought my liver so I had everything checked out. My liver is better than normal and I’m perfectly healthy so I am at a loss. I put turmeric in my eggs each morning and thought maybe this could be the cause. It doesn’t stain my clothes, it’s just a discoloration of my skin and urine that is my complaint. I’m thinking I should stop using it so my pink will return. I am not sure.

  14. Oh my gosh! I have noticed that my phone and laptop case were getting these neon yellow stains all over them. I am taking Enhansa right now….so this all makes sense, it’s the curcumin! I thought had my electronics near a yellow highlighter that leaked…but nope. It’s just my skin causing things I own to turn yellow. How strange!

  15. I’ve been taking bulk turmeric for a few months, maybe 1/2 tsp a day. Some days, I forget to take it. It’s been about 3-4 days since I consumed any; I was getting sick of the staining of my counter despite being very very careful with the powder. I was going to switch to capsules BUT, starting yesterday, definitely did not touch any turmeric for 2 days, but my hands and feet were yellow. This morning, wow, lots of yellow on my pillowcase and my bathtub after I showered, where I stood, the tub’s floor is bright yellow. I’ve been home from work about an hour and my socks are stained yellow. So, I am an example of someone who can’t take it as a supplement. No big deal. Just hope pillowcase and socks come clean.

  16. My mum get curcumin for about 2 weeks and her face and her body turn yellowish. We started to give her about 2 mg per day for few days but after some days we increased the dose to 6 mg and even inside her eyes turn yellowish. Do you think it is because of getting curcumin. We stopped it anyway. Could you give me any advice.

    Thank you

  17. I take turmeric capsules for pain relief. It helps but my sweat is yellow and it gives me diarrhea. It’s getting better though. A friend told me she had diarrhea the first year she was on it but it stopped after a year. She has yellow sweat too. I think it’s just from the color of it.

  18. I’ve been using turmeric and Curcumin 750mg supplements for 3 years now. I typically take 1-2 tsp turmeric daily and 1-3 supplements daily. Last year I noticed a slight yellow look to my face, neck and hands, do I had my liver tested and numbers were ok.
    I also started juicing greens last year(kale and spinach) which may have contributed to my color change, but with the way turmeric stubbornly stains ANYTHING it comes in contact, I’m suspecting it. I also read an article (can’t remember if pubmed or another gov health site) if a case where a woman digested significant amounts of turmeric and her feet turned yellow. So it does happen.

  19. I was using 1-2 teaspoons daily plus a Curcumin supplement.
    Both helped the arthritis in my joints tremendously, but
    the long term use gave me a slight yello tint.

  20. I just started using fresh turmeric to make golden milk for the past two nights and woke to find yellow spots under the skin of my right hand and my nail beds are all yellow. I grated a two inch piece of fresh turmeric root into milk, added black pepper, ginger and a cinnamon stick, simmered for ten minutes and strained it. Perhaps some people are just more sensitive than others.

  21. I made a 16 oz fresh juice yesterday for my lunch of which the contents included pineapple, grapefruit, lime, celery, carrot, parsley, yellow and orange bell pepper, ginger, and turmeric (fresh whole root, not Curcumin powder). This was my first time to juice bell pepper and turmeric. Today I went about my normal gardening, and sweated profusely in the Texas sun. Imagine my surprise when my sweat was neon yellow! First time I’ve ever had this problem, and I immediately thought of the correlation with juicing bell pepper and turmeric for the first time. I have a very healthy liver and strong immune system, so I know it can’t possibly be a problem with my liver. After seeing this thread, I’m almost certain it was the turmeric. I did have my juice with some cracked black peppered bacon so aid in the Curcumin absorption, but I suppose I still juiced more turmeric than my body could absorb and that’s why I sweated yellow today. ?

  22. Absolutely true, but I can’t find anything on it on the internet. I was taking about 3000 mg of turmeric and my wife noticed yellow stains on my pillow in the mornings. (She would change the cases when we noticed it). I stopped taking the turmeric, sweating stopped and so did the staining. Resumed taking the turmeric and the sweating with stain came back. Amazed there is not something out there about this.

  23. My fingernails turned NEON yellow after regular consumption. No external contact. Only internal. Took 4-5 months to grow out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *