Is Curcumin a Possibility to Treat Inflammatory Bowel Diseases?

J Med Food. 2018 Nov;21(11):1077-1085. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.0146. Epub 2018 Jun 29.


The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are mainly represented by Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis that are characterized by chronic and relapsing inflammatory processes of the gastrointestinal system. Curcuma longa L. is a plant with several medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory effects, and curcumin is the most important compound derived from its rhizomes. As curcumin has remarkable anti-inflammatory actions, the aim of this work is to review the potential use of this compound in IBD patients. We consulted MEDLINE (PubMed/PMC), and the literature search was performed with the following combinations of terms "Inflammatory Bowel Diseases" and "Curcumin," "Crohn's Disease" and "Curcumin," "Ulcerative colitis" and "Curcumin." The inclusion criteria were articles that showed original studies with human models and the exclusion criteria were not full-text articles, articles not in English, poster presentations, letters, editorials, and articles not available. Curcumin interacts with receptors, growth and transcription factors, cytokines, enzymes, and genes leading to inhibitory effects on cyclooxygenase-1, tumor necrosis factor-α, interferon-γ, inducible nitric oxide synthase, transcriptional nuclear factor kappa B, and many other molecules associated with inflammatory processes. These molecules are critical factors in the positive regulation of inflammatory cytokines in inflammatory diseases, suggesting that curcumin may be considered as a new therapeutic agent for patients with IBD. Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that represents an attractive, safe and inexpensive alternative for the treatment of IBD. Nevertheless, it is necessary to know the efficient and safe dose and consider its poor absorption.

Keywords: Crohn's disease; curcumin; inflammatory bowel disease; ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Curcuma / chemistry*
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / genetics
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Plant Extracts
  • turmeric extract
  • Curcumin