Spice It Up? Curcumin for Ulcerative Colitis

This past week I’ve been on call and had not finished a few articles.  One article that was on the to do list: A Lang et al. Clinical Gastroenter Hepatol 2015; 13: 1444-9.

I’ve read it now.  However, even before finishing the article, I read a few good summaries of this article, including one from my colleague Stan Cohen/Nutrition4Kids: Curcumin Helps (A Lot) in Ulcerative Colitis

Here’s an excerpt:

The cover of a prestigious medical journal shows a pile of curcumin and over it, the announcement reads: Curcumin Helps Induce Remission in Mild-to-Moderate Ulcerative Colitis.  That’s big news for a lot of reasons: first, this Indian spice (derived from tumeric) is inexpensive and well-tolerated; second, in a well-designed scientific study, curcumin showed that it was more effective than some medicines; and third, it showed, again, that careful trials of long-used herbs can be done with important results being shown.  Again, because an earlier study (H Hanai, Clinical Gastroenterology 2006, pages 1502-6) had previously shown that curcumin can help keep ulcerative colitis (UC) patients from flaring for up to 12 months. 

This new study (A Lang, Clinical Gastroenterology 2015, pages 1444-9) compared curcumin to a placebo in patients who were not doing well on the standard therapy (mesalamine) for mild to moderate UC.  With a single daily dose of 3 grams of curcumin in capsule form, 65% responded (compared to 12% with a placebo) and 54% actually went into remission, having essentially no symptoms.  Perhaps even, more importantly, 38% of those taking the curcumin showed improvement in the intestinal tissue when a colonoscopy was performed.  That’s comparable or better than some of the medications that are being used.

A few other details: The researchers used a product called Cur-Cure from Bara Herbs Inc (Yokneam, Israel).  Also, the associated commentary in the same journal by CN Bernstein (pages 1450-52) suggests that the study may have targeted mild ulcerative colitis (rather than moderate ulcerative colitis). He comments that the increasing rates of ulcerative colitis among Indian immigrants could be related to including less curcumin in their now more westernized diets.  He also notes, as did Dr. Cohen, that there were previous promising studies dating back to 2006.  Why has it taken nine years for this report?

My Take: This is probably an article worth reading.  Although curcumin appears promising, I worry that a lack of financial incentive may hamper research efforts to better define its place as an agent for treatment of ulcerative colitis.

Related blog posts:

Curcumin

This has been a sad week in our office.  Here are links to two poems that come to mind:

6 thoughts on “Spice It Up? Curcumin for Ulcerative Colitis

  1. Pingback: Nutrition Symposium Georgia AAP (Part 3) | gutsandgrowth

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  4. Pingback: AGA Guidelines on the Management of Mild-to-Moderate Ulcerative Colitis | gutsandgrowth

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