Curcumin, the yellow pigment of the spice turmeric is an important plant bioactive with profound medicinal values and benefits. Namely, it expresses numerous biological activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging. Also, curcumin affects wide range of signaling pathways, transcription factors, and enzymes. Thus, this compound may be useful in prevention of various chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular, inflammatory, and neurological ones, as well as cancers. Black pepper added to curcumin can dramatically increase curcumin bioavailability in the body. When ingested curcumin may be extensively metabolized before it is absorbed and taken by cells. Thus, adding back pepper is important for enhancing availability of curcumin, i.e. its levels in the body upon consumption, in other words for emphasizing health benefits of curcumin.
Due to its anti-inflammatory potential, curcumin can be applied in order to reduce symptoms (pain for instance) of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. One pilot study investigated the efficacy of curcumin consumption in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Namely, 45 patients were assigned in one of the 3 groups: group receiving curcumin, group receiving diclofenac sodium (common medicine in treatment of arthritis) and group receiving both. After 8 weeks of supplementation, group receiving curcumin alone showed the highest improvements in disease activity scores (defined by American College of Rheumatology).
Osteoarthritis is another chronic inflammatory disease affecting millions people worldwide. One multicenter study investigated efficacy of curcumin, more precisely Curcuma extract, in patients with osteoarthritis and compared it with ibuprofen, as commonly applied medicine in treatment of this condition. More than 350 patients were assigned either to receive curcuma extract or ibuprofen for 4 weeks. What this study found was amazing and promising result. It turned out that curcumin was equally efficient in treatment of osteoarthritis as pharmacological therapy. Moreover, reduction in pain was more pronounced in subjects receiving curcuma extract than in those receiving medicine.
- Chandran B, Goel A. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012;26(11):1719-25.
- Kuptniratsaikul V et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clin Interv Aging. 2014;9:451-8.
Lipid lowering effects of crucumin (curcuminoides) together with piperine were investigated in placebo controlled study in subjects with metabolic syndrome. 100 patients with metabolic syndrome (defined as presence 3 of 5: high blood glucose; high blood triglycerides; low HDL cholesterol; high blood pressure; abdominal obesity) were randomized into group receiving curcumin-piperine combination or group receiving placebo. After 8 weeks of treatment, curcumin-piperine combination were more effective in reducing blood levels of total, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoprotein(a), as well as in increasing levels of HDL cholesterol, in comparison with the placebo.
- Panahi Y, Khalili N, Hosseini MS, Abbasinazari M, Sahebkar A. Lipid-modifying effects of adjunctive therapy with curcuminoids-piperine combination in patients with metabolic syndrome: results of a randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2014;22(5):851-7.
It is assumed that curcumin may affect pathways that are deregulated in depression. In a randomized, placebo-controlled study 56 subjects with major depression were treated with either curcumin or placebo for 8 weeks. As a result, curcumin was more effective in reducing severity of depression, i.e. in improving several mood-related symptoms. Anti-depressant role of curcumin was questioned in a recent meta-analysis. It reviewed a total of 6 clinical studies and 377 patients and concluded that curcumin was safe, well-tolerated and effective agent among the depressed subjects.
- Lopresti AL et al. Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2014;167:368-75.
- Ng QX et al. Clinical Use of Curcumin in Depression: A Meta-Analysis. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2017;18(6):503-508
Other health benefits of curcumin include its potential use in treatment of various cancers, since it has been shown that curcumin may induce apoptosis (death) of tumor cells and improve general health in people with carcinoma. Also, curcumin can be useful in treatment of skin diseases, including psoriasis and dermatitis. Curcumin can also reduce the symptoms (itching for instance) of carcenous skin lesions.
- He ZY et al. Upregulation of p53 expression in patients with colorectal cancer by administration of curcumin. Cancer Invest. 2011;29(3):208-13
- Antiga E et al. Oral Curcumin (Meriva) Is Effective as an Adjuvant Treatment and Is Able to Reduce IL-22 Serum Levels in Patients with Psoriasis Vulgaris. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:283634.
- Ryan JL et al. Curcumin for radiation dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of thirty breast cancer patients. Radiat Res. 2013;180(1):34-43.