The Use of Curcumin as a Complementary Therapy in Ulcerative Colitis: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials

Nutrients. 2020 Jul 31;12(8):2296. doi: 10.3390/nu12082296.


The objective of this study was to systematically review the literature to verify the efficacy and safety of curcumin as a complementary therapy for the maintenance or induction of remission in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A comprehensive search was conducted by two independent authors in MEDLINE (PubMed), Scopus, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, Lilacs, Food Science and Technology Abstracts, and ScienceDirect. The search terms "curcumin", "curcuma", "inflammatory bowel disease", "proctocolitis", "crohn disease", and "inflammation" were combined to create search protocols. This study considered randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in any language before March 2020 that evaluated the effects of curcumin on inflammatory activity and the maintenance or remission of IBD patients. After duplicates were removed, 989 trials were identified, but only 11 met the eligibility criteria. Five of these were considered to be biased and were excluded. Therefore, six trials were considered in this review. All the studies included in the systematic review were placebo-controlled RCTs conducted on individuals with ulcerative colitis (UC). All the RCTs reported that curcumin was well tolerated and was not associated with any serious side effects. Studies show that curcumin may be a safe, effective therapy for maintaining remission in UC when administered with standard treatments. However, the same cannot be stated for Crohn's disease due to the lack of low bias risk studies. Further studies with larger sample sizes are needed before curcumin can be recommended as a complementary therapy for UC.

Keywords: complementary therapies; curcumin; inflammatory bowel disease; phytotherapy; proctocolitis; turmeric.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy*
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Curcumin