Objectives: To assess the effects of turmeric (Curcuma longa) extract on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptomology in otherwise healthy adults.
Design: Partially blinded, randomized, two-dose, pilot study.
Subjects: Five hundred (500) volunteers were screened for IBS using the Rome II criteria. Two hundred and seven (207) suitable volunteers were randomized.
Interventions: One or two tablets of a standardized turmeric extract taken daily for 8 weeks.
Outcomes measures: IBS prevalence, symptom-related quality of life (IBSQOL) and self-reported effectiveness.
Results: IBS prevalence decreased significantly in both groups between screening and baseline (41% and 57%), with a further significant drop of 53% and 60% between baseline and after treatment, in the one- and two-tablet groups respectively (p < 0.001). A post-study analysis revealed abdominal pain/discomfort score reduced significantly by 22% and 25% in the one- and two-tablet group respectively, the difference tending toward significance (p = 0.071). There were significant improvements in all bar one of the IBSQOL scales of between 5% and 36% in both groups, approximately two thirds of all subjects reported an improvement in symptoms after treatment, and there was a favorable shift in self-reported bowel pattern. There were no significant differences between groups.
Conclusions: Turmeric may help reduce IBS symptomology. Placebo controlled trials are now warranted to confirm these findings.