The Problem of Curcumin and Its Bioavailability: Could Its Gastrointestinal Influence Contribute to Its Overall Health-Enhancing Effects?

Adv Nutr. 2018 Jan 1;9(1):41-50. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmx011.

Abstract

Curcumin, from the spice turmeric, exhibits anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, and neurotrophic activity and therefore holds promise as a therapeutic agent to prevent and treat several disorders. However, a major barrier to curcumin's clinical efficacy is its poor bioavailability. Efforts have therefore been dedicated to developing curcumin formulations with greater bioavailability and systemic tissue distribution. However, it is proposed in this review that curcumin's potential as a therapeutic agent may not solely rely on its bioavailability, but rather its medicinal benefits may also arise from its positive influence on gastrointestinal health and function. In this review, in vitro, animal, and human studies investigating the effects of curcumin on intestinal microbiota, intestinal permeability, gut inflammation and oxidative stress, anaphylactic response, and bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections are summarized. It is argued that positive changes in these areas can have wide-ranging influences on both intestinal and extraintestinal diseases, and therefore presents as a possible mechanism behind curcumin's therapeutic efficacy.

Keywords: curcumin; herbal medicine; intestinal health; intestinal microbiota; microbiome; polyphenols; turmeric.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Biological Availability
  • Curcumin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infections / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Permeability

Substances

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Curcumin