Curcumin not likely to have therapeutic benefit, report reveals

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Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, continues to be hailed as a natural treatment for a wide range of health conditions, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease. But a new review of the scientific literature on curcumin has found it's probably not all it's ground up to be. The report in ACS' Journal of Medicinal Chemistry instead cites evidence that, contrary to numerous reports, the compound has limited -- if any -- therapeutic benefit.

Turmeric, a spice often added to curries and mustards because of its distinct flavor and color, has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Since the early 1990's, scientists have zeroed in on curcumin, which makes up about 3 to 5 percent of turmeric, as the potential constituent that might give turmeric its health-boosting properties. More than 120 clinical trials to test these claims have been or are in the process of being run by clinical investigators. To get to the root of curcumin's essential medicinal chemistry, the research groups of Michael A. Walters and Guido F. Pauli teamed up to extract key findings from thousands of scientific articles on the topic.

The researchers' review of the vast curcumin literature provides evidence that curcumin is unstable under physiological conditions and not readily absorbed by the body, properties that make it a poor therapeutic candidate. Additionally, they could find no evidence of a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial on curcumin to support its status as a potential cure-all. But, the authors say, this doesn't necessarily mean research on turmeric should halt. Turmeric extracts and preparations could have health benefits, although probably not for the number of conditions currently touted. The researchers suggest that future studies should take a more holistic approach to account for the spice's chemically diverse constituents that may synergistically contribute to its potential benefits.


  1. Ossie Sharon Ossie Sharon Israel says:

    For some reason, this review - which appears to echo conclusions considered highly passe - ignored successful randomized clinical trials applying curcumin with enhanced bioavailability, either (ironically) through chemical modification or adjunct therapy such as piperine, despite studies on the latter being listed in the references. This is doubly unfortunate, given the attention-grabbing headlines it has generated.

  2. Josh Bare Josh Bare United States says:

    It's really early here, and I'm happy to have gotten the dumbest thing I'll read all day out of the way.

    • Clay Ryan Clay Ryan United States says:

      no evidence of a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial on curcumin to support its status as a potential cure-all.

      And, sprinkling in truths with statements of nonsense or readily known and addressed concerns.  They reviewed the 'vast' research, and concluded that it there wasn't 'rigorous proof of it as a cure-all'?  In that case, nothing works!!

      And, we all know the bio-availability issue.  However, the headline of 'the fake news b.s.' put out these days is undeniable and painful to see.

  3. Kathy Montgolf Kathy Montgolf United States says:

    all I know is since using it (capsule form) my knees are much happier!

  4. Anita RODRIGUEZ Anita RODRIGUEZ United States says:

    Curcummin Works for Chronic Pain Relief! 3 curcumin capsules with 3 omega-3 capsules works better for me than 3 advils or tylenols for chronic pain related to lyme disease. I take them every 3 hours 24/7. I was able to free myself from the side effects of advil and tylenol.

  5. Alan Brunton Alan Brunton United States says:

    Another article funded by continued Chicken Little mentality. "It's not proven to always work!" Nor is it proven to not work. Publishing such articles without definitive science is only padding the writers' and chemical manufacturers' pocket.

  6. noize filter noize filter Canada says:

    What an irresponsible title for a report/article. Just because whatever they reviewed didn't show the results they were looking for, they have the ignorance to make a blanket statement and label curcumin in general, as non therapeutic?? - how ridiculous. did they even bother to investigate longvida curcumin out of UCLA, which is probably the most advanced form of curcumin to date with the highest stability and bioavailability in blood plasma levels? The United States has an Alzheimers/dementia death rate which is the 2nd worst in the world at 45.58 per 100,000. Now compare those numbers to 0.46 per 100,000 for India.  They consume turmeric in India like the United States consumes sugar.

    • Philomin Josephson Philomin Josephson United States says:

      I am using real turmeric powder that I make  from actual turmeric root, since 2006 for sciatic nerve related back pain that began in 1983. It works within 20 minutes of taking it. I dissolve maximum three teaspoons a day in juice or water, when I have pain as a result of aerobic exercise such as Zumba. I am 67 years old, and still walk 4 miles a day, weight lift and do aerobic exercises every day like a 47 year old would do. The turmeric pills have very little curcumin in it hence it does not work. Buy the the root, puree it and make ice cubes, use an ice cube a day. It is good for your brain health too. You could grow this root in a pot if you are in the cold weather area or if you are in warm weather states, you could grow them in your yard like I do or you could buy it from any Indian grocery stores where they sell vegetables usually found next to ginger.

  7. Susan Neri Susan Neri United States says:

    I swear on my Mothers grave that this is a miracle herb. I have healed my stomach from over the counter pain medications, removed myself from blood thinners and happily never asked for pain medication in over 5 yrs of chronic daily pain . I LOVE this herbs effect on my health as an anti swelling agent with blood thinning side effects. So does my heart and stomach !

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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