Curcumin Was NOT Effective For Post-operative Crohn’s Disease, Goldman Sachs Take on Masks

NBC/NY Link: Goldman Sachs Says National Mask Mandate Could Slash Infections, Save Economy From 5% Hit

Briefly noted: G Bommelear et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol; 2020; 18: 1553-60. Oral Curcumin No More Effective Than Placebo in Preventing Recurrence of Crohn’s Disease After Surgery in a Randomized Controlled Trial


  • Double-blind randomized controlled trial at 8 referral centers in France, from October 2014 through January 2018, with 62 consecutive patients with CD undergoing bowel resection.
  • Patients received azathioprine (2.5 mg/kg) and were randomly assigned to groups given oral curcumin (3 g/day; n = 31) or an identical placebo (n = 31) for 6 months, and were then evaluated by colonoscopy.
  • The primary endpoint: postoperative recurrence of CD in each group (Rutgeerts’ index score ≥i2) at month 6

Key findings:

  • Postoperative recurrence at 6 months: (Rutgeerts’ index score ≥i2): 58% receiving curcumin vs 68% receiving placebo (P = .60).
  • Severe recurrence: 55% receiving Curcumin 55%vs 26% receiving placebo –had a severe recurrence of CD (Rutgeerts’ index score ≥i3) (P = .034).
  • Clinical recurrence of CD (CD activity index score >150) at 6 months: 30% with curcumin compared with 45%  receiving placebo (P = .80)

My take: Curcumin was ineffective in preventing recurrent post-operative Crohn’s disease

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Nutrition Week (Day 7) Connecting Epidemiology and Diet in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A supplement in Gastroenterology (2017; 152: 309-462) provides a great update on a lot of topics.  These include pathophysiology articles (eg. role of Paneth cell, role of microbiome), treatment/development of fibrosis, management advances in endoscopy and biomarkers, newest treatments and emerging treatments, complementary medicine approaches, pain/psychology issues, medications in pregnancy, and detecting dysplasia.

For me, the update on epidemiology and its relationship to diet (pgs 313-321) as well as the review on diet as a trigger or therapy for inflammatory bowel disease (398-414) were most interesting.  Though, I will keep the update on complementary and alternative medicines article at my desk in case questions come about this topic

GG Kaplan, SC Ng. “Understanding and Preventing the Global Increase of Inflammatory Bowel Disease”  Gastroenterology 2017; 152: 313-321


1st case of ulcerative colitis was reported in 1859.  !st cases of Crohn’s disease reported in 1932 (BB Crohn et al. JAMA 1932; 99: 1323-29).

Olmstead County, Minnesota –cases per 100,000:

  • 1965: 28
  • 1980: 90.5
  • 1991: 132.7
  • 2001: 213.9
  • 2011: 246.7

While rates of IBD have “shown signs of stabilization…pediatric-onset IBD continues to increase steadily in incidence.”

IBD Around the World –cases per 100,000:

  • 2005 Japan: 76
  • 2005 S Korea: 42
  • 2013 India: 9.3
  • 2013 China: 3.3.  The greatest incidence is noted in areas of increased urbanization and economic advancement.
  • 2005: Brazil: 9.7

Environmental factors/associations:

  • Cigarette smoking –increases risk of Crohn’s disease in Western countries, and has protective effect against Ulcerative colitis
  • Antibiotic use –increases risk of IBD in Western countries, but may be protective in developing countries.  “Antibiotic-induced dysbiosis may not develop as easily in developing countries, owing to ubiquitous exposure to a diverse range of microbiota that rapidly repopulate the intestinal tract.”
  • Breastfeeding –protects against developing IBD
  • Vitamin D –low levels increase risk of IBD in Caucasians.
  • Fiber –a “diet high in fiber protects against Crohn’s disease.”


JD Lewis, MT Abreu.”Diet as a Trigger or Therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease”  Gastroenterology 2017; 152: 398-414.

“The most common question asked by patient is …’Doctor, what should I eat?'”

Key points:

  • Data from studies of immigrants to higher-IBD prevalence countries show an increasing incidence of IBD, leading to the hypothesis that environmental factors such as diet affect risk of IBD.
  • In early life, breast milk, in some but not all studies, has been associated with a lower risk of childhood-onset IBD.
  • Before development of IBD, studies have shown lower risk of IBD “among people who consume more fruits and vegetables, and a higher risk in people who consume less of these and more animal fats and sugar.”
  • “There is little information about which foods induce flares.” However, for UC, “a high intake of meat, especially red and processed meat, protein, alcoholic beverages, sulfur, and sulfate increased the likelihood of a flare” based on food questionnaires.  In patients with CD, diet with higher “total fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fatty acids, and a higher ratio of omega-6:omega-3 PUFAs was associated with disease relapses.”
  • “Only approximately half of patients have ever received advice from a dietitian.”
  • Oral iron may trigger flares in a small percentage of patients with IBD.  The authors note that adherent E coli express genes for iron acquisition and require iron for growth.

Specific Diets/Additives:  Most of these diets have been discussed in previous posts, including:

Exclusive (and Partial) Enteral Nutrition:

  • “The most widely studied dietary intervention.” It has been shown to be effective for CD.  More elemental formulas have NOT been shown to be more effective.  “EEN and PEN therapy is less likely to normalize fecal levels of calprotectin in children.”
  • “Dietary therapy reduced inflammation and led to changes in the microbiome within 1 week. Unlike TNF antagonists, however, the changes to the microbiome induced by EEN did not lead to a microbiome resembling that of healthy individuals.”

Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD):

  • This diet has been studied in small populations.  Suskind et al reported SCD effectiveness “in 7 children with CD…showed that fecal calprotectin level decreased from a mean of 685 mcg/g to 213 mcg/g at 2-6 after starting the diet.”  “Cohen et al used video capsule endoscopy…in 10 children with CD…Four of 10 children achieved complete mucosal healing (Lewis score <135) and 6 of 10 children achieved clinical remission.”

Low FODMAP diet:

  • While the diet may induce symptom improvement, there is no “evidence that a low FODMAP diet reduces inflammation.”

Vitamin D supplementation:

  • “Vitamin D has multiple potential beneficial effects on intestinal inflammation.” The authors review studies that report lower risk of CD in patients with higher vitamin D levels and on the reduction in relapse in a study of CD patients who were in remission and  treated with Vitamin D (1200 IU daily)

Curcumin supplementation:

  • The authors review two small studies which suggested that curcumin for patients with ulcerative colitis increased clinical remission (when used with mesalamine)

The overall advice the authors give is that patients “should be advised to eat a well-balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean-style diet, avoiding processed foods or foods that they self-identify as worsening their symptoms.  Patients who are committed to attempting to manage their disease predominantly through dietary modification should be counseled about the importance of assessing for resolution of inflammation in addition to symptoms.”

Other Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

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.

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

Herbal Medicines for IBD and IBS

A nice review (Holtmann G, Talley NJ. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2015; 13: 422-32) provides a summary of the experience of herbal medicines for disorders that include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

A recurring theme in the review is that herbal medicines are poorly studied and vary greatly in the quality of their manufacturing.  “Physicians and regulators need to remain very cautious about the use of herbal remedies.” The available trials, with a long list of plant extracts, are summarized in tables in the review.

Specific points:

  • “A meta-analysis also showed that supplementation of peppermint oil, in addition to pharmacologic standard treatments, was of benefit to both constipation-predominant IBS and diarrhea-predominant IBS patients.”
  • “The use os STW5 [iberogast] also has been found to be effective compared with placebo in the treatment of IBS symptoms.”
  • Very small clinical studies have suggested possible efficacy of aloe vera and curcumin in the treatment of IBD.
  • Adverse effects: “there are numerous case reports on adverse events related to herbal medicines.” Some of these have been severe.
  • “The main driver for the use of herbal and complementary medicines is the unmet need of patients.” However, given that these preparations are non patentable, “there is limited investment of producers.”

Bottomline: There is little financial incentive for companies to determine more conclusively whether these agents are effective for functional disorders or for inflammatory bowel disease.

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