Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified health care professional before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
Uses based on scientific evidence
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
Curcumin has been reviewed for its use in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease; however, strong studies are lacking. Early research suggests that curcumin increases blood levels of vitamin E but has a lack of effect on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores in patients with Alzheimer's disease. More research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Early research suggests that turmeric may have antioxidant effects. However, more research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Blood clot prevention
Early research suggests that turmeric may prevent the formation of blood clots. However, more research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Several early studies have reported the anticancer (colon, skin, breast) properties of curcumin. Many mechanisms have been considered, including antioxidant activity, prevention of new blood vessel growth, and direct effects on cancer cells. Currently it remains unclear if turmeric or curcumin has a role in preventing or treating human cancers, and further studies are needed in this area.
Curcuma longa has been studied for use in Crohn's disease. In a review, people have reported an improvement in symptoms of Crohn's disease; however, strong evidence is lacking to make a firm conclusion. Further research is needed.
Early studies have indicated that curcumin may have an effect against bacteria in the mouth. Clinical research shows that turmeric may be as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash; however, further studies are needed in this area.
In animal research, curcumin or turmeric had a positive effect on glucose and HbA1c levels, elevated plasma insulin, and improved cholesterol and antioxidant status. In clinical research, curcumin has been shown to decrease the progression of prediabetics and improve microangiopathy (blood vessel disease). Further study is needed in this area.
According to early research using a combination herbal formula, turmeric may help lessen symptoms of eczema. However, the effect of turmeric alone has yet to be examined. Additional research is required before a conclusion can be made.
According to early research using a combination herbal formula, turmeric may be beneficial in the treatment of certain eye problems. Despite these findings, the data on the efficacy of turmeric alone remain limited. Further research is needed in this area.
Gallstone prevention/bile flow stimulant
It has been said that there are fewer people with gallstones in India, which is sometimes credited to turmeric in the diet. Early studies have reported that curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, may decrease the occurrence of gallstones. However, reliable human studies are lacking in this area, and further research is needed.
H. pylori infection
According to early research, turmeric was lacked any benefit for those people infected with H. pylori. Well-designed research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Turmeric has been traditionally used to treat stomach problems (such as indigestion from a fatty meal). There is preliminary evidence that turmeric may offer some relief from these stomach problems. However, at high doses or with prolonged use, turmeric may actually irritate or upset the stomach. Reliable human research is necessary before a conclusion can be made.
Heart attack (Post CABG)
In animals, curcumin has been shown to have protective effects in heart attacks and cardiopulmonary bypass. One clinical study indicates a decrease in heart attack while in the hospital after coronary artery bypass. Further research is needed.
Heart disease prevention
The effects of curcumin have been studied for heart disease and heart protection. However, clinical studies are limited, and further research is needed.
Early studies suggest that turmeric may lower levels of low-density lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood. However, clinical studies in humans have reported a lack of effect on both "bad" and "good" cholesterol. But, a reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels was also reported. Further well-designed studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Turmeric and curcumin have both been identified in limited human research as having anti-inflammatory properties. In order to establish a strong conclusion, additional research is needed.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Early research has suggested that turmeric may lessen symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). More studies are needed to verify these findings.
Due to turmeric's anti-inflammatory effects, curcumin has been studied in people with itching due to sulfur mustard. One clinical study indicated that curcumin may be effective for itching, but further research is needed.
Leukoplakia (white patches in the mouth)
Early research has suggested that curcumin may reduce symptoms of oral leukoplakia (white patches in the mouth). Further research is necessary before a strong conclusion can be made.
In India, turmeric has been used to tone the liver. Early research suggests that turmeric may have a protective effect on the liver. In rats, turmeric has been shown to possibly be mildly toxic to the liver in high doses. More research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Lichen planus (type of skin rash)
Due to turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties, a study has been done in people with oral lichen planus in which a curcumin complex has been shown to improve symptoms in of oral lichen planus. Further research is needed in this area.
Lupus nephritis (kidney inflammation from lupus)
Turmeric and curcumin have both been identified as having anti-inflammatory properties. In clinical research, turmeric has been shown to possibly be helpful for relapsing lupus nephritis. However, further study is needed.
Curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and to reduce beta-amyloid and plaque burden in early studies. However, there is currently a lack of enough evidence to suggest the use of curcumin for mental performance. Further studies are needed.
Turmeric has been used historically to treat rheumatic conditions. Although not well studied in humans, turmeric and curcumin may relieve symptoms associated with osteoarthritis due to their anti-inflammatory properties. More research in humans is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Early research suggests that curcumin may reduce symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. However, more research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Historically, turmeric has been used on the skin to treat chronic skin ulcers and scabies. It has also been used in combination with the leaves of the herb Azadirachta indica (neem). More research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be made.
Turmeric has been used historically to treat stomach ulcers. However, at high doses or with prolonged use, turmeric may actually further irritate or upset the stomach. Currently, there is a lack of enough human evidence to make a firm conclusion.
Early evidence suggests that curcumin, alone or as part of a spicy diet, may aid in the reduction of pain associated with surgery. Further research is required.
Turmeric and curcumin have both been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. Animal studies have shown that turmeric is effective for treating and preventing ulcerative colitis inflammation. However, further research in humans is needed.
Early human research involving a combination product containing turmeric for weight loss has been conducted. At this time, high-quality studies using turmeric alone for weight loss are lacking. Additional research is required.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
For full grading rationale, click here.
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional
Abdominal bloating, abscess, acne, aging, alcohol abuse, allergy, amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), anthelmintic (expel parasitic worms), antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, antivenom, antiviral, appetite stimulant, arthritis (general), ascaridiasis (worms in the gut or liver), asthma, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), boils, bruises, burns, cataracts, chemoprotective, childbirth (umbilical stump care), chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic obstructive lung disease, colic, constipation, contraception, cosmetic uses, cough, depression, diarrhea, diagnostic procedure (histological dye), dizziness, dry eye syndrome, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), epilepsy, expectorant (loosens mucus), fever, fistula, flavoring agent, food uses (coloring), gas, gonorrhea, hair growth, heart damage from doxorubicin (Adriamycin®, Doxil®), hematuria (blood in the urine), hemorrhage, hepatitis, herpes (cold sores), high blood pressure, human papillomavirus (HPV), immune function, increased sperm count/motility, increasing breast milk, infertility (bovine), insect bites, insect repellent, jaundice, kidney disease, kidney impairment, kidney stones, kidney transplant, leprosy, liver disease, lung fibrosis, malaria, menopause, menstrual pain, metabolic disorders (Neimann-Pick type C disease), multidrug resistance, multiple sclerosis, muscle ache, muscle strains/pain, nerve damage, nerve disorders, nutritional support, organ transplantation (immune suppression), pancreatitis, parasites, Parkinson's disease, prostate conditions, protection from tobacco smoke, rabies, radioprotection, respiratory disorders, rhinitis (stuffy nose), ringworm, scar healing, scleroderma, sepsis, skin disorders, snakebite, soft tissue injuries, stroke prevention, toxicity (5-aminosalicyclic acids, 5-ASA), urinary disorders, vitiligo (loss of pigment in the skin), Wilson's disease, wound healing.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare professional immediately if you experience side effects.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy.
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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