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Curcumin as effective as drug for RA sufferers, study shows

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New research finds that a high-potency curcumin ingredient performs as well as a leading drug in relieving symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

As more research shows the connection between inflammation and many diseases—from cancer to cognitive decline—it’s increasingly important that researchers continue to explore ingredients that promote a healthy inflammatory response.

A recent human clinical trial published in the March 2012 edition of Phytotherapy Research, demonstrated that BCM-95, a highly bioavailable form of curcumin, was as effective in alleviating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as diclofenac sodium (branded Voltaren, a leading pharmaceutical NSAID treatment).

The single-blinded pilot study was designed to determine whether twice daily supplementation with 500mg capsule of curcumin separately and in combination with diclofenac sodium (50mg) for eight weeks would improve Disease Activity Scores in patients diagnosed with active RA.

Forty-five participants were randomized to three groups (curcumin only, curcumin in combination with diclofenac sodium and diclofenac sodium only) and after eight weeks of therapy their DAS scores were reassessed along with the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for reduction in tenderness and swelling of joints.

The BCM-95 curcumin group experienced the most improvement, though the score change wasn’t sufficiently higher than the combination and drug-only scores to call it an out-and-out winner, explained Cheryl Myers, chief of scientific affairs and education at EuroPharma, makers of CuraMed which uses BCM-95 to promote a healthy inflammation response.

Nonetheless, “the findings of this study are significant, as these demonstrate that curcumin was not only safe and effective, but was surprisingly more effective in alleviating pain compared with diclofenac,” wrote the study authors Binu Chandran and Ajay Goel.

Victory for curcumin

What we can deem an out-and-out victory, however, is that in the BCM-95 curcumin group there were no drop outs due to adverse effects, but in the diclofenac sodium (NSAID) group, 14 percent withdrew due to adverse effects.

According to Myers, as many as 20,000 Americans die each year from the negative effects of NSAIDs—ulcers, stomach bleeding, kidney function disruption and intestinal bleeding, to name a few. The indication that BCM-95 curcumin might offer a safer and equally as effective alternative to drug treatment should not only offer hope to RA sufferers, but inspire further research on this important ingredient.

“Our observations that curcumin alone was able to alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in this study are quite encouraging, and these results provide an ideal springboard for investigating the potential of curcumin in other chronic diseases arising in the setting of dysregulated chronic inflammation,” wrote Chandran and Goel. 

What do you think about the study? Leave a comment.

Discuss this Blog Entry 13

DRM (not verified)
on May 30, 2012

I don't know who to be more disappointed in. It is outrageous that New Hope would title this "Curcumin more effective than drug for RA sufferers, study shows" as nothing could be further from the truth. The study did NOT show curcumin was more effective than diclofenac. In fact, as there was no difference among the three study groups, this is simply a failed study. A true scientist would know that no valid conclusions could be made on the basis of these results. It is also deplorable that a scientist would suggest that the finding of this study is "significant" or that the curcumin was "surprisingly more effective in alleviating pain compared with diclofenac" when the results were not different among the treatments. It is this type of irresponsible reporting, both by the scientist and the media, that calls our industry into disrepute. Shame on both of you.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2012

You must work for one of those drug companies that hide findings only to try to replicate with a synthetic drug...money is what u gain and disease is what the patient gains from your bad drugs

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2012

You must work for one of those drug companies that hide findings only to try to replicate with a synthetic drug...money is what u gain and disease is what the patient gains from your bad drugs

Vital Spark (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2012

Hi. I wonder how much you know about the adverse effects of diclofenac on the heart.

on May 31, 2012

I appreciate your interest in the study. I'd be happy to share the full text with you if you'd like to see it. I think you'll see that while it's true that the results among the three test groups were very close, the numbers for the curcumin group were higher. Not "statistically significant," but higher. And I think I made that distinction clear in this blog. Although you're absolutely right that the headline is misleading. I'd be happy to tweak it to better reflect the results of the study.
However I have to vehemently disagree with your claim that this "calls our industry into disrepute." First, because this is a blog, not an article. Second, because there is nothing inaccurate or unlawful in this blog. I think it's valuable information and important research showing that a natural ingredient can work as well in alleviating pain and symptoms for RA sufferers with far fewer adverse side effects than a leading drug treatment. This doesn't call our industry into disrepute. It proves that these scientists are doing important work.

DRM (not verified)
on May 31, 2012

You prove the point. You continue to claim that a natural product works AS WELL as a drug with NO reliable proof. A scientific disgrace.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2012

just like cannibus is a cure for cancer that the drug companies will not admit

Vital Spark (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2012

I think you'll find that most prescribed drugs originate from natural sources such as the bark of the willow tree, for one example.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 8, 2012

I'm new to this blog, but isn't the article a start to finding reliable proof. RA+drug = good results, RA+curcumin = good results. Would you take drug or curcumin?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2012

About a year ago, my hubby ordered me some high strength curcumin supplement he saw on an infomercial...what an amazing difference. I have very little pain now, and rarely even need to take aspirin, much less the stronger stuff. I'm a believer!

Kristen H (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2012

Thank you very much for this informative article! It's pertinent and imperative! People need to be aware that there are natural alternatives for many ailments and without someone like you taking the time to share this information, most people would never learn about it! So - thank you!

Vital Spark (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2012

I am wondering if Curcumin would be useful for Fibromyalgia sufferers. Has there been any research done into that? These poor afflicted don't respond to most pain killers and, apart from pain, they have to deal with the sleep pattern disruption.

DawnV (not verified)
on Sep 15, 2012

I always find it encouraging when there are viable options for pain control or disease management that aren't drug based. Thank you for sharing this information.

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