Curcumin has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties and has been investigated as an adjuvant therapy of ulcerative colitis (UC). The scope of this study was to systematically review and meta-analyze the efficacy of oral curcumin administration as an adjuvant therapy of UC. MEDLINE, Cochrane/CENTRAL, ClinicalTrials.gov, WHO-ICT Registry, EMBASE and grey literature were searched for relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The primary outcome was clinical remission (attainment) and the secondary outcome was clinical response (maintenance/failure). Risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane tool. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated with a Mantel-Haenszel (M-H) random effects model and with a beta-binomial (B-B) random effects model when zero events/cells occurred. Four RCTs met the criteria, but one was removed from the analyses due to inconsistency in protocol details. With the M-H method, treatment with curcumin was significantly superior to placebo in attaining remission in the per-protocol (PP) analysis (OR = 5.83, 95%CI = 1.24⁻27.43), but not in the intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis (OR = 4.33, 95%CI = 0.78⁻24.00). However, with the more accurate B-B method, both analyses were insignificant (for PP OR = 4.26, 95%CI = 0.59⁻31.00, for ITT OR = 3.80, 95%CI = 0.55⁻26.28). Based on the current available evidence, oral curcumin administration does not seem superior to placebo in attaining remission in patients with UC. Future RCTs should be planned more cautiously with sufficient size and adhere to the ITT analysis in all outcomes.
Keywords: IBD; RCT; autoimmune diet; autoimmune disease; beta binomial; curcumin; diet; gastrointestinal disease; inflammatory bowel disease; meta-analysis; nutraceutical; proctitis; proctocolitis; rare events; turmeric; ulcerative colitis.