A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of curcuminoids in oral lichen planus

Phytomedicine. 2007 Aug;14(7-8):437-46. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2007.05.003. Epub 2007 Jul 2.


We studied the efficacy of curcuminoids in the treatment of oral lichen planus (OLP), a chronic, mucocutaneous, immunological disease. Curcuminoids are components of turmeric (Curcuma longa) that have anti-inflammatory activity. Turmeric has been used in Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine) for centuries. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted. In all, 100 consecutive, eligible patients with OLP presenting to the oral medicine clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, were to be selected. Two interim analyses were to be conducted during the trial. The trial was conducted between February 2003 and September 2004. The first interim analysis was conducted in October 2004 using data from the first 33 subjects. Study subjects were randomized to receive either placebo or curcuminoids at 2000 mg/day for 7 weeks. In addition, all subjects received prednisone at 60 mg/day for the first 1 week. The primary outcome was a change in symptoms from baseline. Secondary outcomes were changes in clinical signs and occurrence of side effects. The first interim analysis did not show a significant difference between the placebo and curcuminoids groups. Conditional power calculations suggested a less than 2% chance that the curcuminoids group would have a significantly better outcome as compared with the placebo group if the trial were continued to completion. Therefore, the study was ended early for futility. Reaching a conclusion regarding the efficacy of curcuminoids based on the results of this study is not possible as it was ended early for futility. Curcuminoids at this dose were well tolerated and the results suggest that for future studies a larger sample size, a higher dose and/or longer duration of curcuminoids administration should be considered; however, for the next step, an RCT of a shorter duration, using a higher dose of curcuminoids, and without an initial course of prednisone, should be considered.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Candidiasis
  • Curcumin / adverse effects
  • Curcumin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Phytotherapy
  • Treatment Failure


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Curcumin