Anti-inflammatory effects of oral supplementation with curcumin: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Nutr Rev. 2021 Aug 9;79(9):1043-1066. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuaa114.


Context: Chronic inflammation is a major contributor to the development of noncommunicable diseases. Curcumin, a bioactive polyphenol from turmeric, is a well-known anti-inflammatory agent in preclinical research. Clinical evidence remains inconclusive because of discrepancies regarding optimal dosage, duration, and formulation of curcumin.

Objective: The aim of this systematic review, conducted and reported in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines and checklist, was to evaluate the efficacy of curcumin supplementation on systemic inflammatory mediators, comparing dose, duration, and bioavailability status of interventions.

Data sources: The Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, Scopus, and Cochrane literature databases were searched from 1980 to May-end 2019. Randomized controlled trials investigating effects of dietary curcumin on inflammatory mediators in humans not receiving anti-inflammatory treatment were eligible for inclusion. Two authors independently assessed titles and abstracts of identified articles for potential eligibility and respective, retrieved, full-text articles; disagreements were resolved by a third author. Evidence quality was critically appraised using the Quality Criteria Checklist for Primary Research.

Data extraction: Thirty-two trials (N = 2,038 participants) were included and 28 were meta-analyzed using a random-effects model; effect sizes were expressed as Hedges' g (95%CI).

Data analysis: Pooled data (reported here as weighted mean difference [WMD]; 95%CI) showed a reduction in C-reactive protein (-1.55 mg/L; -1.81 to -1.30), interleukin-6 (-1.69 pg/mL, -2.56 to -0.82), tumor necrosis factor α (-3.13 pg/mL; -4.62 to -1.64), IL-8 (-0.54 pg/mL; -0.82 to -0.28), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (-2.48 pg/mL; -3.96 to -1.00), and an increase in IL-10 (0.49 pg/mL; 0.10 to 0.88), with no effect on intracellular adhesion molecule-1.

Conclusion: These findings provide evidence for the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin and support further investigation to confirm dose, duration, and formulation to optimize anti-inflammatory effects in humans with chronic inflammation.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO registration no. CRD42019148682.

Keywords: curcumin; curcuminoids; cytokines; inflammation; inflammatory mediators; meta-analysis; randomized controlled trials; systematic review; turmeric.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Curcumin* / administration & dosage
  • Curcumin* / pharmacology
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Curcumin