Traditional wisdom of the medicinal values of pleiotropic molecules from nature could be the fundamental reason behind mankind’s universal inclination toward the healing power of herbs over millennia. However, few within the cornucopia of medicinal plants convey the plethora of health-promoting properties of turmeric. This magnificent, versatile herb has been of great utility since earliest recorded history, from application in addressing myriad health conditions and ailments to use in sacred ceremonies. Over the past several decades, modern research has confirmed turmeric’s traditional health benefits, and discovered new ones.
Turmeric derives its Latin name, Curcuma longa, from the Arabic name for the plant, “Kurkum,” and it belongs to the Zingiberaceae family.1 This rhizome, native to the Indian subcontinent, has held its supreme position since the Vedic period owing to its wide array of uses and benefits. Turmeric was not just an integral part of curries, but was also extensively used as a flavoring and coloring agent by ancient Indians, and even as a food preservative to retain the freshness and intrinsic nutritional value of foods. Even today, many people in India use turmeric in various auspicious ceremonies, such as during pujas (devotional ceremonies) and marriage ceremonies.
Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old natural healing system of India, has extensively incorporated the use of turmeric in its practices. It has been prescribed by Ayurvedic practitioners in managing several conditions, including those of the skin, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal systems, aches, pains, wounds, sprains, liver disorders, joint pain, and inflammation.2
During the past half-century, extensive efforts in the field of biomedical research have been successful in providing science-based evidence for the remarkable health benefits of this traditional herb. Research identified curcumin, one of the several phytochemicals present in turmeric, to likely be responsible for most of the health benefits put forth by turmeric.2 However, it was later found that curcumin is not the only active compound found in turmeric; it typically is accompanied by demethoxycurcumin (DMC) and bisdemethoxycurcumin (BDMC)the two other minor curcumin analogues present in turmeric, which are also responsible for its myriad health benefits. All these well-studied bioactive components of turmeric, collectively termed “curcuminoids,” have been found to exert synergistic action.
Interest in curcumin research has grown exponentially over the past three decades since the first promising study to the more than 8,000 peer-reviewed articles published on curcumin today, transforming the reputation of curcumin from just a flavorful spice into a highly beneficial herbal supplement. Curcuminoids are now known to have multiple clinical benefits beyond its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, to include managing chronic conditions like metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease etc.3
Followingare representative studies highlighting a variety of clinical benefits of curcuminoids. There are thousands more.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal types of cancer with poor survival prognosis. In a non-randomized, open-label, phase 2 trial, 25 subjects with advanced pancreatic cancer who could not receive any radio or chemotherapy were treated with curcuminoids (as Curcumin C3 Complex® from Sabinsa) for eight weeks. Results showed that majority of subjects exhibited downregulation of the inflammatory markers nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-B) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) after treatment with 8 g/d oral dosage of curcuminoids, and one of the subjects showed 73 percent reduction in the tumor size.4
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, supplementation with Curcumin C3 Complex for eight weeks resulted in greater reduction of serum triglycerides, total cholesterol, serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, non-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, lipoprotein (a), and increase in HDL cholesterol concentrations as compared to the placebo group.5
Results of another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 118 diabetic subjects who were supplemented with a curcuminoids-piperine combination (Curcumin C3 Complex and BioPerine® from Sabinsa) at 1,000 mg-10 mg/d or matching placebo demonstrated significant protection against oxidative stress.6 Thus, it could be a safe and effective antioxidant supplement in managing oxidative stress-mediated progression of type 2 diabetes and its long-term complications.
Cognitive Health Support
Better tolerability and efficacy was seen with curcuminoids (as Curcumin C3 Complex®) at the dosage of 2 g and 4 g when supplemented in subjects with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease symptoms in a 24-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.7
Cucrcuminoids Efficacy in Osteoarthritis
A significant decrease in pain, physical function and stiffness was observed when subjects with knee osteoarthritis were supplemented with Curcumin C3 Complex® at 1,500 mg/d.8 Additionally, there was 84 percent decrease in the number of subjects taking the drug naproxen in the curcuminoids group.
Peptic Ulcer and Related Symptoms
Adjunctive therapy with curcumin supplementation at 500 mg/d of Curcmin C3 Complex® in subjects diagnosed with peptic ulcer who were receiving standard Helicobacter pylori eradication therapy showed a greater improvement in symptoms related to peptic ulcer with no side effects.9
The medical community and consumer’s embracing the health benefits of curcumin in response to research is driving additional investigation, further establishing turmeric as the wonderfully beneficial herb that the ancients believed it to be.
Editor’s note: While many studies have been done around particular diseases, it is a company’s responsibility to ensure that they market their finished products in a manner that is compliant with appropriate regulations.
1. Williamson EM (Ed.). Major herbs of Ayurveda. Compiled by Dabur Research Foundation and Dabur Ayurvet Ltd., Churchill Livingstone, 2002.
2. Aggarwal BB, Sundaram C, Malani N, Ichikawa H. Curcumin: the Indian solid gold. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:1–75.
3. Majeed M, Majeed A (Eds). Curcumin C3 Complex®–The Most Clinically Studied Curcumin Brand in the World. Curry Powder to Clinical Significance. New Jersey: NutriScience Publishers, LLC; 2015.
4. Dhillon N et al. “Phase II trial of curcumin in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.” Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Jul 15;14(14):4491-9. DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0024.
5. Panahi Y et al. “Lipid-modifying effects of adjunctive therapy with curcuminoids-piperine combination in patients with metabolic syndrome: results of a randomized controlled trial.” Complement Ther Med. 2014 Oct;22(5):851-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.07.006.
6. Panahi Y et al. “Curcuminoids modify lipid profile in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A randomized controlled trial.” Complement Ther Med. 2017 Aug;33:1-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.05.006.
7. Ringman J et al. “Oral curcumin for Alzheimer's disease: tolerability and efficacy in a 24-week randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study.” Alzheimers Res Ther. 2012 Oct 29;4(5):43. DOI: 10.1186/alzrt146. eCollection 2012.
8. Henrotin Y et al. “Curcumin: a new paradigm and therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of osteoarthritis: curcumin for osteoarthritis management.” Springerplus. 2013 Dec;2(1):56. DOI: 10.1186/2193-1801-2-56.
9. Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J, Fernandez-Botran R. “Effects of curcumin on Helicobacter pylori infection.” Ann Transl Med. 2016 Dec;4(24):479. DOI: 10.21037/atm.2016.12.52.