Over recent decades, researchers conducted 32 clinical trials on the effect of curcumin supplements on various autoimmune diseases including osteo/rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes and ulcerative colitis. Those trials formed part of the basis for us here at Fully Human including curcumin in Freedom, so let’s see what the current state of the science is.
All studies were randomized, placebo controlled trials, the gold standard for medical evidence. The trial lengths ranged from 4-40 weeks. And they looked at a variety of clinical measures including pain, stiffness, range of motion, and disease specific markers (inflammatory markers for RA as an example).
Overall, 26 trials resulted in significant improvements with most of the remainder not being long enough to report results. None reported significant side effects, and none reported curcumin supplementation as being anything but supportive as an autoimmune therapy.
The osteoarthritis-related trials ranged from 6 to 40 weeks with doses ranging from 100–2000 mg/day tested. In 13 of the studies, dietary curcumin intake resulted in improvement of at least 2 clinical measures (pain, stiffness, range of motion…etc) and seven studies showed improvement of at least three clinical measures. The average effective daily dose was 829mg/day divided between at least two doses.
Type 2 Diabetes Results
The Type 2 diabetes trials ranged from 4 to 36 weeks with doses of curcumin ranging from 200 to 1500 mg/day. All eight studies showed curcumin supplementation possessed anti-diabetic effects with the average effective daily dosage being 570.79 mg/day divided between at least two doses.
Ulcerative Colitis Results
The duration of the three studies looking at ulcerative colitis ranged from 4 weeks to 24 weeks with doses ranging from 140 mg to 3000 mg/day. Two of the three studies showed taking between 2,000-3,000mg/day were effective in putting mild-moderate ulcerative colitis into remission.
There have been only three studies of curcumin’s effect on other rheumatic diseases, including two studies on rheumatoid arthritis and one on lupus nephritis. Of the two RA studies, one 8-week study showed an improvement in patients taking 1,000mg/day divided between at least two doses. The other study was only two weeks long, and didn’t end with any reportable outcome. The lupus study found that a dose as low as 66mg/day over 12 weeks resulted in significant improvements in systolic blood pressure and a levels of lupus markers in the blood (proteinuria and hematuria).
Promising results aside, due to the limited number of studies conducted on RA and LN, the effect of curcumin on RA and lupus should be considered possibly useful, but with clinically inconclusive evidence.
Freedom Is The Answer
- Sharma R.A., et al. Curcumin: The story so far. Eur. J. Cancer. 2005;41:1955–1968. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2005.05.009. [PubMed]
- Shishodia S., et al. Curcumin: Getting back to the roots. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 2005;1056:206–217. doi: 10.1196/annals.1352.010. [PubMed]
- Aggarwal B.B., et al. Pharmacological basis for the role of curcumin in chronic diseases: An age-old spice with modern targets. Trends Pharmacol. Sci. 2009;30:85–94. doi: 10.1016/j.tips.2008.11.002. [PubMed]
- Oppenheimer A. Turmeric (curcumin) in biliary diseases. Lancet. 1927;229:619–621. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)98193-5. [CrossRef]
- Dai Q., et al. curcumin alleviates rheumatoid arthritis-induced inflammation and synovial hyperplasia by targeting mTOr pathway in rats. Drug Des. Dev. Ther. 2018;12:4095. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S175763. [PMC free article]
- Prasad S., et al. Curcumin, a component of golden spice: From bedside to bench and back. Biotechnol. Adv. 2014;32:1053–1064. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2014.04.004. [PubMed]
- Gupta S.C., et al. Therapeutic roles of curcumin: Lessons learned from clinical trials. AAPS J. 2013;15:195–218. doi: 10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8. [PMC free article]
- Hsu C.H., et al L. The Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Curcumin in Health and Disease. Springer; Boston, MA, USA: 2007. Clinical studies with curcumin; pp. 471–480. [Google Scholar]
- Haroyan A., et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin and its combination with boswellic acid in osteoarthritis: A comparative, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMC Complement. Altern. Med. 2018;18:7. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-2062-z. [PMC free article]
- Srivastava S., et al. Curcuma longa extract reduces inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers in osteoarthritis of knee: A four-month, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Inflammopharmacology. 2016;24:377–388. doi: 10.1007/s10787-016-0289-9. [PubMed]
- Panahi Y., et al. Mitigation of systemic oxidative stress by curcuminoids in osteoarthritis: Results of a randomized controlled trial. J. Diet. Suppl. 2016;13:209–220. doi: 10.3109/19390211.2015.1008611. [PubMed]
- Sterzi S., et al. The efficacy and safety of a combination of glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate and bio-curcumin with exercise in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur. J. Phys. Rehabil. Med. 2016;52:321–330. [PubMed]
- Rahimnia A.R., et al. Impact of supplementation with curcuminoids on systemic inflammation in patients with knee osteoarthritis: Findings from a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Drug Res. 2015;65:521–525. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1384536. [PubMed]
- Panahi Y., et al. Curcuminoid treatment for knee osteoarthritis: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Phytother. Res. 2014;28:1625–1631. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5174. [PubMed]
- Nakagawa Y., et al. Short-term effects of highly-bioavailable curcumin for treating knee osteoarthritis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled prospective study. J. Orthopaedic Sci. 2014;19:933–939. doi: 10.1007/s00776-014-0633-0. [PMC free article]
- Kuptniratsaikul V., et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: A multicenter study. Clin. Interventions Aging. 2014;9:451. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S58535. [PMC free article]
- Belcaro G., et al. (R)+ Glucosamine versus Condroitin+ Glucosamine in patients with knee osteoarthritis: An observational study. Eur. Rev. Med. Pharmacol. Sci. 2014;18:3959–3963. [PubMed]
- Madhu K., et al. Safety and efficacy of Curcuma longa extract in the treatment of painful knee osteoarthritis: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Inflammopharmacology. 2013;21:129–136. doi: 10.1007/s10787-012-0163-3. [PubMed]
- Kizhakkedath R. Clinical evaluation of a formulation containing Curcuma longa and Boswellia serrata extracts in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Mol. Med. Rep. 2013;8:1542–1548. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2013.1661. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
- Pinsornsak P., et al. The efficacy of Curcuma Longa L. extract as an adjuvant therapy in primary knee osteoarthritis: A randomized control trial. J. Med. Assoc. Thai. 2012;95:S51–S58. [PubMed]
- Belcaro G., et al. Efficacy and safety of Meriva (R), a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern. Med. Rev. 2010;15:337–344. [PubMed]
- Belcaro G., et al. Product-evaluation registry of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, for the complementary management of osteoarthritis. Panminerva Med. 2010;52:55–62. [PubMed]
- Kuptniratsaikul V., et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J. Altern. Complement. Med. 2009;15:891–897. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0186. [PubMed]
- Badria F.A., et al. Boswellia–curcumin preparation for treating knee osteoarthritis: A clinical evaluation. Altern. Complement. Therapies. 2002;8:341–348. doi: 10.1089/107628002761574635. [CrossRef]
- Cashman J.N. The mechanisms of action of NSAIDs in analgesia. Drugs. 1996;52:13–23. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199600525-00004. [PubMed]
- Biggee B.A., et al. Glucosamine for osteoarthritis: Part I, review of the clinical evidence. Rhode Island Med. J. 2004;87:176. [PubMed]
- Chuengsamarn S., et al. Reduction of atherogenic risk in patients with type 2 diabetes by curcuminoid extract: A randomized controlled trial. J. Nutr. Biochem. 2014;25:144–150. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.09.013. [PubMed]
- Na L.X., et al. Curcuminoids Target Decreasing Serum Adipocyte-fatty Acid Binding Protein Levels in Their Glucose-lowering Effect in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Biomed. Enveion. Sci. 2014;27:902–906. [PubMed]
- Na L.X., et al. Curcuminoids exert glucose-lowering effect in type 2 diabetes by decreasing serum free fatty acids: A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2013;57:1569–1577. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201200131. [PubMed]
- Chuengsamarn S., et al. Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2012;35:2121–2127. doi: 10.2337/dc12-0116. [PMC free article]
- Steigerwalt R., et al. Meriva®, a lecithinized curcumin delivery system, in diabetic microangiopathy and retinopathy. Panminerva Med. 2012;54:11. [PubMed]
- Appendino G., et al. Potential role of curcumin phytosome (Meriva) in controlling the evolution of diabetic microangiopathy. A pilot study. Panminerva Med. 2011;53:43–49. [PubMed]
- Khajehdehi P., et al. Oral supplementation of turmeric attenuates proteinuria, transforming growth factor-β and interleukin-8 levels in patients with overt type 2 diabetic nephropathy: A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study. Scand. J. Urol. Nephrol. 2011;45:365–370. doi: 10.3109/00365599.2011.585622. [PubMed]
- Usharani P., et al. Effect of NCB-02, atorvastatin and placebo on endothelial function, oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Drugs R D. 2008;9:243–250. doi: 10.2165/00126839-200809040-00004. [PubMed]
- Boord J.B., et al. Combined adipocyte-macrophage fatty acid-binding protein deficiency improves metabolism, atherosclerosis, and survival in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Circulation. 2004;110:1492–1498. doi: 10.1161/01.CIR.0000141735.13202.B6. [PMC free article]
- Kedia S., et al. Low dose oral curcumin is not effective in induction of remission in mild to moderate ulcerative colitis: Results from a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. World J. Gastrointestinal Pharmacol. Ther. 2017;8:147. doi: 10.4292/wjgpt.v8.i2.147. [PMC free article]
- Lang A., et al. Curcumin in combination with mesalamine induces remission in patients with mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis in a randomized controlled trial. Clin. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 2015;13:1444–1449. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2015.02.019. [PubMed]
- Hanai H., et al. Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis: Randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 2006;4:1502–1506. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2006.08.008. [PubMed]
- Chandran B., et al. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother. Res. 2012;26:1719–1725. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. [PubMed]
- Dcodhar S.D., et al. Preliminary study on antirheumatic activity of curcumin (diferuloyl methane) Indian J. Med. Res. 1980;138:632–634. [PubMed]
- Khajehdehi P., et al. Oral supplementation of turmeric decreases proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis: A randomized and placebo-controlled study. J. Renal Nutr. 2012;22:50–57. doi: 10.1053/j.jrn.2011.03.002. [PubMed]
- Dolati S., et al. Nanocurcumin restores aberrant miRNA expression profile in multiple sclerosis, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J. Cell. Physiol. 2018;233:5222–5230. doi: 10.1002/jcp.26301. [PubMed]
- Dolati S., et al. Changes in Th17 cells function after nanocurcumin use to treat multiple sclerosis. Int. Immunopharmacol. 2018;61:74–81. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2018.05.018. [PubMed]
- Edwards R.L., et al. The anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin is mediated by its oxidative metabolites. J. Biol. Chem. 2017;292:21243–21252. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA117.000123. [PMC free article]
- Hong J., et al. Modulation of arachidonic acid metabolism by curcumin and related β-diketone derivatives: Effects on cytosolic phospholipase A 2, cyclooxygenases and 5-lipoxygenase. Carcinogenesis. 2004;25:1671–1679. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgh165. [PubMed
- Drazen J.M. COX-2 inhibitors: A lesson in unexpected problems. N. Engl. J. Med. 2004;23:9247–9258. doi: 10.1056/NEJMe058038. [PubMed]
- Zeng J.J., et al. Curcumin Inhibits Proliferation of Synovial Cells by Downregulating Expression of Matrix Metalloproteinase-3 in Osteoarthritis. Orthopaedic Surg. 2019;11:117–125. doi: 10.1111/os.12412. [PMC free article]
- Pari L., et al. Antihyperlipidemic effect of curcumin and tetrahydrocurcumin in experimental type 2 diabetic rats. Renal Fail. 2007;29:881–889. doi: 10.1080/08860220701540326. [PubMed]
- Weisberg S.P., et al V. Dietary curcumin significantly improves obesity-associated inflammation and diabetes in mouse models of diabesity. Endocrinology. 2008;149:3549–3558. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-0262. [PMC free article]
- Srivastava R.M., et al. Immunomodulatory and therapeutic activity of curcumin. Int. Immunopharmacol. 2011;11:331–341. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2010.08.014. [PubMed]
- Duvoix A., et al. Chemopreventive and therapeutic effects of curcumin. Cancer Lett. 2005;223:181–190. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2004.09.041. [PubMed]
- Aggarwal B.B., et al. Anticancer potential of curcumin: Preclinical and clinical studies. Anticancer Res. 2003;23:363–398. [PubMed]
- Dorai T., et al. Therapeutic potential of curcumin in human prostate cancer. III. Curcumin inhibits proliferation, induces apoptosis, and inhibits angiogenesis of LNCaP prostate cancer cells in vivo. Prostate. 2001;47:293–303. doi: 10.1002/pros.1074. [PubMed]
- Somasundaram S., et al. Dietary curcumin inhibits chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in models of human breast cancer. Cancer Res. 2002;62:3868–3875. [PubMed]
- Kuo M.L., et al. Curcumin, an antioxidant and anti-tumor promoter, induces apoptosis in human leukemia cells. Biochim. Biophys. Acta BBA Mol. Basis Dis. 1996;1317:95–100. doi: 10.1016/S0925-4439(96)00032-4. [PubMed]
- Cole G.M., et al. The Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Curcumin in Health and Disease. Springer; Boston, MA, USA: 2007. Neuroprotective Effects of Curcumin; pp. 197–212. [Google Scholar]
- Baum L., Ng A. Curcumin interaction with copper and iron suggests one possible mechanism of action in Alzheimer’s disease animal models. J. Alzheimer’s Dis. 2004;6:367–377. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2004-6403. [PubMed]
- Ng Q.X., et al. Clinical use of curcumin in depression: A meta-analysis. J. Am. Med. Directors Assoc. 2017;18:503–508. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2016.12.071. [PubMed]
- Prasad S., et al. Recent developments in delivery, bioavailability, absorption and metabolism of curcumin: The golden pigment from golden spice. Cancer Res. Treat. Off. J. Korean Cancer Assoc. 2014;46:2. doi: 10.4143/crt.2014.46.1.2. [PMC free article]
In 2018 a group of researchers from New Jersey conducted a four month clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a Boswellia serrata extract (BSE). This study was longer than any other previous clinical trial on patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. It’s key finding is that an increasing the potency of the Boswellia extract increases its biologically active components. These then act together against inflammation and arthritis. The end result, published in early 2019, was an improvement in physical and functional ability while also reducing the pain and stiffness.
The study randomized 48 patients, aged 35-75, with OA of the knee into active and placebo groups. All participants, were selected because they had a history of OA, and pain in their knees that was difficult to bear on most days.
Background on Boswellia
Boswellic acids, especially one called AKBA, are powerful anti-inflammatories. They block an enzyme called 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) that breaks down polyunsaturated fatty acids in foods into leukotrienes, inflammatory molecules that attack joints and other tissues. Boswellia may also help reduce cartilage damage in arthritis. It also shows promise as a cancer treatment.
Various research studies show derivatives of boswellic acids (BAs) are not all created equal, but all help reduce inflammation to one degree or another. Earlier clinical studies found boswellic acid‐containing products in combination with Curcumin C3 Complex® and ginger extract were better at reducing arthritis pain than individual supplements alone.
The bottom line is that Boswellia serrata, given three times a day, significantly reduced pain and stiffness and improved the joints of those taking it. Best of all, this study found there there were no adverse effects.
How much did it reduce them?
Pain: Patients reported a 45-50% reduction in their pain levels, as judged on a 1-10 scale. While the placebo group reported only a 5-10% reduction.
Stiffness: The stiffness metric was measured by how far the participants could walk without pain in 6 minutes. For the patients taking Boswellia, they increased their distance by over a third, while the other group reported no change.
But the most significant change is seen in the image below. The patients taking Boswellia actually saw a reduction in bone spurs, and an increase in joint space.
Freedom Is The Answer
Do you suffer from OA in your knees? Do you have a hard time walking without pain? Try our patent-pending blend of Boswellia (even more potently extracted than the one studied here). It isn’t cheap, but then again, removing bone spurs isn’t cheap either.
If you are at all like me (which lets be honest you probably are because you are 1. reading | 2. a human | 3. breathing | 4. amazingly good looking | 5. really good at being awesome), then you enjoy Indian food. I know I know, I said I was going to be posting about ways to help fight inflammation, and I will – stick with me.
So back to Indian food – one of the key ingredients in about 93% of all Indian food (and American mustard) is Turmeric. It is a yellow spice that comes from the Curcuma longa, root (whatever that means), and has been used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes at least as long as people have bothered to keep track. Turmeric has also been used as a herbal remedy for almost as long.
I like to imagine the first use of turmeric for medicine went something like this:
THE ‘OFficial’ first use of turmeric for medicine
Damnit Akshat!!! How many times have I told you that running through the garden ruins food! You know I have been working hard to make sure there is enough of the Curcuma for your sister’s wedding later this year, and now you went and sprained your ankle. Here – just chew on one of these roots for a while and get out of my way. Of course it will help – mother always knows best (well it will at least help me get you out of my garden)
The next day
Akshat – I thought you said your ankle was sprained – how are you able to walk so well? And how is there not more swelling? And where did the root go that I gave you to chew on – I need that for dinner tonight.
From there this mother took what ‘cured’ her son of swelling and began selling it in the market as a cure for stupid and or injured man children. And the age of humans using turmeric to fight inflammation began
But How Does It Work
So turmeric has an active ingredient curcumin (no not the spice cumin that you are using right now in your taco recipe – although similarly tasty), and this ingredient has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Clinical studies have found curcumin, when taken multiple times a day, in doses ranging from 400mg to 600mg per dose, offers protection against certain cancers, reduces the symptoms of osteoarthritis (there is limited research suggesting it also helps rheumatoid arthritis, but more is needed), fights the inflammation causing IBS (inflammatory bowl syndrome) and help stabilize blood sugar. There is also anecdotal evidence that curcumin protects neurons from the protein buildup which causes Alzheimer’s (research into this is ongoing in mice, but initial results are positive).
Great – but does it do more harm than good?
So the short answer is no – Turmeric is extremely safe for the majority of people. If you have a family (or personal) history of liver disease then you should probable avoid turmeric just to be safe though. Also, there is insufficient research into the safety of turmeric with pregnant women, so might as well err on the side of avoiding it so long as you are toting around that spare human.
I have been taking turmeric for about six years now, and have noticed a little heartburn if I take more than the recommended dose, but that could be a vestige of years of taking pain medications weakening my stomach lining.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about another awesome extract that I am a huge fan of — Green Tea — until then – you all stay classy, and don’t forget to bring your full selves to life.
Sources – no i didn’t just make all this up 🙂
American Cancer Society – cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/HerbsVitaminsandMinerals/turmeric
Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimum Health, by Andrew Weil.
Natural Database – naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?cs=NONMP&s=ND&pt=100&id=662&fs=ND&searchid=37594816
If you are looking for a supplement that uses turmeric in the scientifically verified dose, with enough in a single bottle to let you take it at the clinical dose for a full month, check out my supplement Freedom over at Indiegogo.
Next time I’ll talk about green tea – or as I like to call it – the only good tea