Ulcerative colitis (UC) belongs to the so-called inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and is characterized by digestive tract inflammation and ulcers that typically last a long time. Contrary to Crohn’s disease, which involves the full length of the digestive tract, UC only implicates the large intestine (colon) and the rectum. Moreover, symptoms, which include diarrhea, abdominal and rectal pain, bloody stools, weight loss, fever, fatigue and more, build up progressively and don’t usually appear out of the blue.
Besides severely affecting the quality of life, UC can also have dire repercussions due to severe complications. There is no cure yet, and treatment aims to manage it through remission induction and maintenance of symptom-free status for as long as possible. Corticosteroids and aminosalicylates are the first-line treatments, followed by disease-modifying immunosuppressant drugs as the condition becomes more serious. Although these treatments work, they are not without risks.
On the other hand, since one of the most touted features of turmeric and curcumin has been its potent anti-inflammatory action, one could assume that it may benefit patients with UC. Luckily, there is clinical evidence that supports this idea. First, in 2012, the renowned Cochrane Collaboration published a systematic review on curcumin as an adjuvant therapy of UC, acknowledging its benefits.2 As a follow up, Lang et al. conducted a randomized clinical trial investigating whether curcumin can help achieve remission faster compared to placebo, in patients receiving mesalamine –an aminosalicylate; they, too, found that turmeric was efficient and induced remission faster compared to placebo, with no additional adverse effects. 2
- Garg S, Ahuja V, Sankar M, Kumar A, Moss A. Curcumin for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012;.