Curcuma as an anti-inflammatory component in treating osteoarthritis

Rheumatol Int. 2023 Apr;43(4):589-616. doi: 10.1007/s00296-022-05244-8. Epub 2022 Nov 17.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is nowadays the most common musculoskeletal progressive condition. In recent decades, incidence and prevalence of OA have increased significantly. It is estimated that the prevalence of OA among adults older than 60 is 12%, affecting about 240 million people globally. The cause has not been fully elucidated, and therefore, there is no cure at the moment. It is a multifactorial degenerative disease with an inflammatory component mediated by numerous proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors. OA is not yet fully understood; therefore, therapeutic interventions are aimed primarily at reducing symptoms and slowing the progression of joint destruction. Of the therapeutic options available, the most often prescribed are nonsteroidal antirheumatic drugs, which have numerous side effects. Therefore, a need for a safe, effective substance is differentiated, which will be used in adjuvant treatment, but also in disease prevention, and which will comparatively have no or fewer side effects. One such substance is curcumin, a hydrophobic polyphenol that forms the active component of the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant. Several studies have shown its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, non-toxicity, and safety at high daily doses. In addition to blocking chondrocyte apoptosis, curcumin also blocks the expression of cyclooxygenase, prostaglandin E-2 and proinflammatory cytokines in chondrocytes, potentially alleviating symptomatic diseases. Although there are significant variations in quality, methodology, and research results conducted on curcumin efficiency in OA treatment, curcumin is primarily recommended as systematic short-term and medium-term adjuvant therapy that reduces inflammatory biochemical factors. Reducing inflammation leads to better pain regulation and improved joint function, significantly reducing standard prescribed doses of drugs. The most researched daily doses of curcumin intake are 1000-2000 mg/day, which would also be the doses that most of the authors recommend. Further research is needed to determine the preventive role of curcumin in the pathogenesis of OA, the effects of long-term usage of curcumin in preventive purposes and treatment of osteoarthritis, as well as to determine optimal therapeutic dosages.

Keywords: Curcuma; Curcumin; Food as medicine; Medicinal substance; Osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects
  • Curcuma
  • Curcumin* / therapeutic use
  • Cytokines
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases*
  • Osteoarthritis* / drug therapy


  • Curcumin
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines