The value of Curcumin

The August edition of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology contains a report on the value of Curcumin in mild to moderate Ulcerative colitis. Curcumin is a natural chemical derived from the Indian spice turmeric. It has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (and ayurvedic practice) to treat inflammatory disorders. A multi centre randomised placebo controlled double blind study was performed in 50 patients recruited three medical centres as far apart as Israel, Hong Kong and Cyprus. These patients were already taking mesalazine but had failed to go into remission. Of 26 patients receiving curcumin 14 went into remission by 4 weeks compared to none of the patients who were given a placebo. There were no significant side effects (Clin Gast Hepatol 2015 13 1444-49)

It is slightly concerning that these patients were recruited from 3 separate centres so far apart (were they really clinically comparable?) but curcumin may have a role in the management of mild Ulcerative colitis. This is unlikely however, to transform the management of UC. It is difficult to do good trials of new medication as it is unethical to deprive patients of treatments which have been shown to be effective and therefore its always necessary to add the new drug to the existing treatment and see if it makes a difference. When we did a trial of Curcumin in patients in Cambridge with UC on corticosteroids who were not responding, we found no benefit whatsoever. As is the case with many negative studies, we struggled and failed to get this trial published.

Curcumin is therefore unlikely dramatically to change the outlook for sufferers but it may help some of those with relatively mild disease who are reluctant to step up to more powerful immunosuppressant drugs because of anxiety as to their side effects.

Archive

Infliximab – working/not working

Infliximab has been found to be effective in some cases of Crohn’s…

Vaccination and the risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

A few years ago it was suggested that Crohn’s disease (CD)…

Vaccination and the risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

A few years ago it was suggested that Crohn’s disease (CD)…

Infliximab – working/not working

Infliximab has been found to be effective in some cases of Crohn’s…

Faecal Bacterial Transplantation in Ulcerative Colitis

The latest edition of Gastroenterology July 2015 contains 2…