Curcumin: Arthritis and IBD

Curcumin: Arthritis and IBD

It is believed that curcumin contains phytochemicals which possess the anti-inflammatory effects that may be of benefit to patients with inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.

Curcumin and Arthritis

Millions of people are affected by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both these inflammatory disorders present with bouts of exacerbation that may present with joint pain, swelling and restricted range of motion. For both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the primary treatment is pain control with variety of medications. In osteoarthritis there is progressive joint degeneration and loss of cartilage, which can cause the bones to rub against each other.  In rheumatoid arthritis, there is a chronic state of inflammation that not only affects the joints but almost every other organ system in the body. For both these conditions, the conventional medical treatments are suboptimal. Over the years many reports have appeared that curcumin can help relieve the symptoms of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, many small studies have been done and confirmed the benefits of curcumin in these two conditions (Chin, 2016).

Curcumin appears to work best during the early phase of the disease only. And secondly it does not work in everyone with arthritis. The only way to know if curcumin will work for you is to try it out. Based on anecdotal reports, the benefits of cucrumin appear within a few days.

Curcumin and IBD

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin has also been used to treat exacerbations of inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). Inflammatory Bowel Disorders like Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic disorders. They both present with moderate to severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, failure to thrive and a whole host of other problems. These two conditions are treated with a variety of medications which essentially decrease the inflammation. Unfortunately, all the medications used to treat inflammatory bowel disease have potent side effects, which makes compliance difficult.

Over the past decade, many reports have cropped up suggesting the curcumin can help ease the symptoms of IBD. Since then several studies have been done that have compared curcumin to placebo and observed that it does decrease the symptoms of IBD Vecchi Brumatti et al, 2014).

Lang and colleagues noted that administration of 550 mg of curcumin twice daily to patients with ulcerative colitis and crohn disease resulted in marked improvement in both symptoms and immunological parameters. In addition, many of the patients were able to lower the dose of their medications. Symptomatic improvement included less frequent bowel movements, decreased abdominal cramps and improved appetite. Similarly other studies have shown that taking 1g of curriculum twice daily can also decrease the relapse rates. These data indicate that curcumin is a great option for patients with IBD who cannot tolerate their prescription medications (Sreedhar et al, 2016).

Until curcumin becomes a bona fide treatment for IBD, more clinical trials are needed to determine the dose and best route of administration. Currently some manufacturers are devising novel  rectal formulas of curcumin that can be administered as a suppository or an enema. The reason is that during an acute flare up, these patients are not able to consume oral medications (Rahimi et al, 2016).


1. The spice for joint inflammation: anti-inflammatory role of curcumin in treating osteoarthritis.

Chin KY. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2016 Sep 20;10:3029-3042.

2. Curcumin slows osteoarthritis progression and relieves osteoarthritis-associated pain symptoms in a post-traumatic osteoarthritis mouse model.  Zhang Z, Leong DJ, Xu L, He Z, Wang A, Navati M, Kim SJ, Hirsh DM, Hardin JA, Cobelli NJ, Friedman JM, Sun HB.

Arthritis Res Ther. 2016 Jun 3;18(1):128

3. Novel delivery system for natural products: Nano-curcumin formulations.  Rahimi HR, Nedinia R, Sepehri Shamloo A, Nikdoust S, Kazemi Oskuee R. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2016 Jul-Aug;6(4):383-98

4. A comparative study of curcumin-loaded lipid-based nanocarriers in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.  Beloqui A, Memvanga PB, Coco R, Reimondez-Troitiño S, Alhouayek M, Muccioli GG, Alonso MJ, Csaba N, de la Fuente M, Préat V.

Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2016 Jul 1;143:327-35.

5. Curcumin as a therapeutic agent in the chemoprevention of inflammatory bowel disease.

Sreedhar R, Arumugam S, Thandavarayan RA, Karuppagounder V, Watanabe K. Drug Discov Today. 2016 May;21(5):843-9.

6. Curcumin in Combination With Mesalamine Induces Remission in Patients With Mild-to-Moderate Ulcerative Colitis in a Randomized Controlled Trial.  Lang A, Salomon N, Wu JC, Kopylov U, Lahat A, Har-Noy O, Ching JY, Cheong PK, Avidan B, Gamus D, Kaimakliotis I, Eliakim R, Ng SC, Ben-Horin S. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Aug;13(8):1444-9.

7. Curcumin and inflammatory bowel disease: potential and limits of innovative treatments.

Vecchi Brumatti L, Marcuzzi A, Tricarico PM, Zanin V, Girardelli M, Bianco AM.

Molecules. 2014 Dec 16;19(12):21127-53.

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