Turmeric polyphenol helps patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative proctitis

November 11, 2005

Ulcerative proctitis is a form of ulcerative colitis that only involves the rectum (ulcerative colitis is a serious disease that causes irritation and ulceration of the lining of the colon and rectum). Curcumin is the active polyphenol in the curry spice Turmeric (Curcuma longa). Curcumin from Turmeric has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.

In this small study patients with either ulcerative proctitis or Crohn's disease (similar to colitis but affecting both the small and large intestine) were given a Curcumin compound. All proctitis patients improved (5 out of 5) with most of them requiring lower dosages of their maintenance medications, and most of the Crohn's disease patients improved (4 out of 5) with a drop in their CDAI score (Crohn's disease activity index) and a drop in their sedimentation rate (a general measure of inflammation). The research was performed in cooperation with St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University, and the Strang Cancer Center research Laboratory and is published in the November 2005 issue of the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Hopefully none of us will encounter an agent as destructive as mustard gas, but it is good for us to note that these particular antioxidants are very lung friendly and that available oral supplement levels have shown protective activity in research.

Turmeric's polyphenol (Curcumin) improves the activity of Celebrex

Osteoarthritis is the Western world's leading cause of disability. In osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis cells adhere to the lubricating, shock absorbing synovial fluid in the joint. These cells are involved with inflammation and ongoing damage to both the joint and even the surrounding bone.

COX-2 inhibitors are efficient anti-inflammatory, pain reducing drugs commonly used in osteoarthritis. However, recent studies have shown that their long-term use may be limited due to cardiovascular toxicity (some, such as Bextra, have already been removed from the market).

Curcumin's anti-inflammatory activity has been demonstrated in a number of studies. During knee replacement surgery, these researchers removed and collected human synovial tissue. The synovial adherent cells were exposed to varying potencies of celecoxib, Curcumin, or the combination of the two. The combination of the celecoxib with Curcumin produced a synergistic effect where combining the two had much greater activity than expected. The combination caused the damage producing cells to die and there was a greater ability to inhibit inflammation. This combination may allow a lower and safer dosage of celecoxib and may pave the way for a novel combination for treating osteoarthritis and other rheumatological disorders. The research was performed at the Departments of Cancer prevention, Tel Aviv Medical Center, and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, and is published in the October 25th, 2005 issue of the journal Rheumatology.

NSAID drugs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are used for pain and inflammation and are commonly prescribed for arthritis. NSAID drugs include the commonly prescribed pain relievers Advil which is the same as Motrin, Nuprin or ibuprofen, and Aleve which is the same as Naprosyn. In this study the NSAID diclofenac (also known as Arthrotec or Voltaren) was evaluated for its effect on arthritic joints.

In this study, researchers wanted to assess the effects of the NSAID drug, diclofenac, on osteoarthritic hips and knees. A total of 2,330 people over the age of 55 participated with 1,695 subjects with arthritis in the hips (a total of 2,514 hips were affected) and 635 subjects with arthritis in the knees (a total of 874 knees were affected). The participants were followed for 6.5 years on average. The subjects were assessed for having increased risk of worsening joint and knee damage or requiring knee replacement surgery. Using a nonsteroidal drug (diclofenac) for over 6 months increased the risk of worsening hip damage by 240% and increased the risk of worsening knee damage which could include requiring knee replacement surgery by 320%. The study appears in the October 2005 issue of the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.