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The Many Benefits of Curcumin for Crohn’s & Colitis

  • Gut Health Herbs & Compounds Science
  • 5 min read
  • Feb 14, 2022 - Tessa Eskin
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Curcumin has garnered avid clinical interest across the globe as increasing evidence of its therapeutic benefits emerge, especially for chronic inflammation. A great number of trials recently found that curcumin can rapidly induce remission and maintain remission in patients with IBD. 

Curcumin is the bright yellow polyphenic – a type of plant compound with antioxidant activities believed to boost digestion and brain health. Though technically derived from the rhizome of turmeric, extracted curcumin offers numerous health benefits whereas turmeric alone is not considered a “therapeutic agent.” 

For thousands of years, curcumin was used to add color and flavor to culinary dishes, as well as for its healing qualities. In fact, Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine practitioners have used curcumin as a treatment for wound healing and inflammation for roughly 5000 years. 

Though widely known across the Far East, the compound was not studied in a clinical capacity until the 1970s, when researchers began investigating its biological activities. A quick skim of the compound’s properties clarifies why curcumin is often considered “The Wonder Drug of Life.” 

Curcumin has neuroprotective, anticancer, cardioprotective, carminative, antirheumatic, hypotensive, antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-venomous effects – just to name a few. But for the purposes of treating IBD, it’s curcumin’s potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are of most interest. 

Curcumin’s Antioxidant Activities 

Antioxidants are especially beneficial to those with inflammatory disorders, as they fight oxidative stress – one of the causes of chronic inflammation. Here’s how it works: 

Sometimes oxygen molecules in the body split into single atoms with unpaired electrons. They become unstable ‘free radicals’, seeking other atoms to bind to. The binding of these Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) to other atoms causes quick reactions in the body. If this happens continually, it can trigger oxidative stress, which in turn causes chronic inflammation and cell damage. 

Curcumin not only exerts its own antioxidant properties, but it appears to enhance the body’s own antioxidant defense system. Firstly, curcumin neutralizes or blocks the activity of ROS, and inhibits the enzymes that generate ROS such as LOX, COX, and xanthine oxidase. It also increases GSH (Glutathione, an antioxidant produced by the human body) levels, further boosting the body’s antioxidant defense. 

Additionally, curcumin has been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation – the spontaneous chain reaction of oxidation that is triggered by an attack of free radicals. By targeting free radicals through antioxidant activity, and enhancing the body’s own antioxidant defense system, curcumin can relieve chronic inflammation experienced in IBD, and protect the body from further tissue damage. 

Curcumin’s Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Curcumin is a natural inhibitor of the NF-kB signaling pathways. The overactivation of these pathways can cause immune dysregulation, leading to extreme inflammation and tissue damage. By inhibiting these pathways, curcumin can offer relief to IBD patients, but that’s just one of its manifold anti-inflammatory activities. 

IBD patients generally have an abundance of tumor necrosis factor (TNFα), a proinflammatory cytokine and protein messenger. This is the main target of treatments like Remicade and Humira. Curcumin has been found to suppress TNFα, making it a safe and less extreme option for patients before attempting biologic therapy. 

Curcumin additionally suppresses the activity of interleukin-1 (IL-1β), a protein produced by white blood cells found in higher quantities in those with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. Altogether, these mechanisms induce speedy remission in IBD patients who have not benefited from pharmaceutical treatment alone. This is due to curcumin’s wide range of activities, whereas biologics and corticosteroids work through a single target. 

To top it off, curcumin has also been found to heal impaired intestinal barrier function and help IBD patients achieve mucosal healing, resulting in thorough and long-lasting remission maintenance. 

How Curcumin Effects the Microbiome 

The microbiome is perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of human biology. It refers to the trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, achaea and protozoa that inhabit the GI tract and make up the majority of our immune system. This diverse microbial community regulates many essential functions of our body, directly affecting the gut mucosa, the nervous system, and even the production of our neurotransmitters. 

But for the body to function healthily and maintain a state of immune homeostasis, the microbiome requires a careful balance of certain bacteria. A disturbance in this balance is known as ‘Gut Dysbiosis’, which studies have shown can directly lead to disease pathogenesis, including autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s. Specifically, the reduction of bacteria like Firmicutes and Bacteroides and the overproduction of Proteobacteria have been linked to IBD

As more is revealed about the microbiome and its role in inflammatory bowel disease, researchers have begun testing curcumin’s effect on gut dysbiosis. So far, the evidence shows that curcumin can indeed directly exert regulative effects on the microbiome. Curcumin can even shift the composition of the microbiome towards a healthier balance between beneficial and pathogenic microbiota. 

According to one review, patients on curcumin showed less pro-inflammatory bacteria (e.g. prevotellaceae, coriobacteriaceae, enterobacteria, and enterococci) and higher levels of anti-inflammatory bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.

Targeting the Gut 

While curcumin clearly lives up to its ‘Wonder Drug’ reputation, standard curcumin will not exert such potent effects unless the active compound is specifically developed and formulated to directly target the intestinal lining. For the best results, it’s recommended to take ‘Gut-Directed’ curcumin, which has been clinically tested and proven to target gut inflammation in IBD patients, relieve symptoms, induce remission, heal the mucosa, and maintain long-lasting remission.  

For a tailored plan by Evinature that takes all your needs into account, click here to get started. 

Tessa Eskin


Tessa Eskin


This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice. The content provided is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or healthcare professional regarding any medical or health-related diagnosis or treatment options. The claims made regarding specific products in this blog are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Tessa Eskin


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