Curcumin concoction could combat colitis: Study

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Turmeric has been used traditionally as a medicinal herb in India and South East Asia for illnesses including hepatic and rheumatic ailments. ©iStock
Turmeric has been used traditionally as a medicinal herb in India and South East Asia for illnesses including hepatic and rheumatic ailments. ©iStock

Related tags Anti-inflammatory

A formula that blends curcumin and turmeric oils can prove effective against the activity and inflammatory burden of colitis, a study has determined.

Published in Nature Scientific Reports​, the study identifies the efficacy of a specific curcumin preparation containing essential turmeric oils (ETO-curcumin) in reducing colitis symptoms.

These turmeric oils, aromatic-tumerones (ar-tumerones), alpha-turmerones, beta-turmerones, alpha-santalene and aromatic curcumene, appear to be responsible for an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action, the study suggests.

The combination also appeared to exert higher bioactivity than stand-alone curcumin – a feature that could prove valuable in using turmeric for other intestinal conditions.

“The therapeutic benefits of turmeric can be attained at its best by combining curcumin with turmerone, an active compound derived from essential oil of turmeric,”​ said P.J. Kunjachan, chairman and managing director for Arjuna Natural Extracts

“This new finding provides our customers an added value for promoting their BCM-95-based formulations in an increasingly crowded curcumin market,”​ added Dr Benny Antony, joint managing director for Arjuna.

BCM-95 often combines curcumin with other turmeric compounds as its poor bioavailability has been cited as a barrier to its use in other disorders.

Obstacles are not limited to curcumin's chemical properties. Despite the 17 claims for its anti-inflammatory and digestive health properties, there are currently no approved health claims for curcumin in the EU.

These claims are featured on the 2000+ list of on-hold botanical claims yet to be processed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

As well as Arjuna, other manufacturers with an interest in curcumin include herbal manufacturers Sabinsa and Italian botanicals firm Indena.

ETO-curcumin credentials

tumeric curcumin spice inflammation botanical iStock MSPhotographic
The efficiency of BCM-95 over standard curcumin in colitis was attributable to properties beyond bioavailability, including the synergism between ingredients in this composition. ©iStock/MSPhotographic

Led by Dr Shusuke Toden, research associate from Baylor University in the US, the trial compared ETO-curcumin preparations  against standard curcumin at three specific doses (0, 5, 25 or 50 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg)).

These doses were administered to an animal model with induced colitis for seven days.

The research team found that ETO-curcumin improved disease activity index (DAI) dose-dependently, while the anti-inflammatory efficacy of standard curcumin remained constant.

“This suggests that ETO-curcumin may provide superior anti-inflammatory efficacy compared to standard curcumin​,” the study explained.

“ETO-curcumin associated anti-inflammatory effects were particularly pronounced at higher doses.”

Further findings revealed that anti-inflammatory proteins produced included IL-10 and IL-11 as well as FOXP3, which increased in number in the colon by ETO-curcumin.

Mechanism of action?

Despite research that points to its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin’s bioavailability and solubility remain sticking points for the ingredient.

This non-solubility is perhaps on reason why supplements account for the majority of its applications.

Speaking to NutraIngredients​ last year, Dr Antony said that about 80% of its BCM-95 was destined for capsules or tablets, and this trend was the same in the US and EU.

If optimum dosage and regulatory issues of curcumin can be decided, clinical studies that have demonstrated ETO-curcumin’s role in conditions such as arthritis​, depression and Alzheimer’s disease​ may reach fruition.

Regarding mechanisms of action, the team believed ETO-curcumin altered a unique anti-inflammatory gene profile that was greater than that of standard curcumin.

“ETO-curcumin could exert more potent anti-inflammatory effect due to enhanced bioavailability, superior modulation of inflammatory cytokines and subsequent stimulation of Treg cells,” ​the study concluded.

Arjuna Natural Extracts will be showcasing its BCM-95 formulation at Vitafoods Europe, (booth A40) taking place in Geneva from May 9 – 11.

Source: Nature Scientific Reports

Published online ahead of print: doi:10.1038/s41598-017-00812-6

“Essential turmeric oils enhance anti-inflammatory efficacy of curcumin in dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis.”

Authors: Shusuke Toden, Arianne Theiss, Xuan Wang & Ajay Goel

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