I honestly didn’t expect to be writing so much about curcumin but when I came across this study I couldn’t help but read through it. I recently wrote about a study demonstrating how curcumin can help tendon healing, but because the test subjects were rats, my enthusiasm was somewhat tempered.
Once I saw that this study done in humans, my curiosity was piqued.
This was published in the Alternative Medicine Review journal in 2010 and is titled:
I actually learned a lot more about curcumin, after reading through this paper. For instance:
- Curcumin is the yellow pigment of turmeric
- There are almost 3000 studies investigating the properties of curcumin
- Curcumin by itself is unstable and poorly absorbed in the GI tract, but once its absorbed it becomes stable and can even permeate tissues like the brain.
- When curcumin is bound to a phospholipid like phosphatidylcholine, with the trade name Meriva, they are protected from the acids in the stomach, and are more absorbable by around 20 times!
So what did they do?
The researchers enrolled 100 patients with proven arthritis in the knees based on X-rays and divided them into a treatment group with curcumin and a control group without it.
Prior to initiating treatment, the following were assessed:
- Functional impairment status – how well they can take care of themselves, using the Karnofsky Scale.
- Pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis using the WOMAC questionnaire
- Physical performance via treadmill test
- Blood testing for immunological and inflammatory markers
After 8 months of treatment the above were then reassessed.
I thought this was actually pretty comprehensive since they used both subjective tools like questionnaires along with objective measurements like blood tests and how long they could walk on treadmills.
What exactly did they take?
They took Meriva tablets prepared by Sigmar Italia.
500 mg after breakfast and 500 mg after dinner, for a total of 1000 mg per day.
What did they find?
The researchers found that pretty much everything in the treatment group improved compared to the control group.
In terms of the subjective measures, there was significant improvement in the functional impairment status and symptoms of osteoarthritis in the curcumin group. For example, subjects who took curcumin reported a greater than 50% decrease in their pain whereas the control group didn’t report any difference at all!
In fact the curcumin group also reported a 63.4% decrease in the amount of NSAID/painkiller use vs a decrease in 8% in the control group.
The interesting parts to me were the objective measures.
In this table you can see that while the treatment group and control group could only walk around 80 meters at the start of the study. After 8 months the curcumin group drastically improved to 344 meters while the control group only improved to 156 meters. We’re talking a difference of over 1.5 football fields!
This table shows that all markers of inflammation went down in the curcumin group while they were essentially unchanged in the control group. You can’t really argue with results like this!
The authors note:
Remarkably, curcumin can regulate in a beneficial fashion the activity of all the major inflammatory players involved in OA [osteoarthritis].
I’m definitely impressed with the findings of this study. It really seems as if curcumin is a miracle supplement. Since injuries to connective tissue and development of osteoarthritis are so common in sports like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I’m definitely going to make sure that this is a regular component of my supplement stack.
As I’ve said before, my main sources of curcumin are:
If you look at the ingredient label of EXOS Curcumin, you’ll see Meriva, the same curcumin bound to phosphatidylcholine complex used in this study, featured prominently.
Here is a copy of the paper with my highlights.