Pharm.D. (six years)


Orr, K. Kelly

Advisor Department

Pharmacy Practice (PHP)



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.


Turmeric is a well-known natural product, native to Southeast Asia, commonly

used for a variety of cultural traditions and health benefits. Generally referred

to as curcumin, it is a member of the Zingiberaceae, or ginger family, utilized

for its roots and known for its vibrant yellow hue. Culturally, it is primarily

incorporated into cooking and as an integral part of religious rituals and

ceremonies. Chemically, turmeric is classified as a phenolic compound, made

up of many curcuminoids, each with varying levels of activity. Therapeutically,

its health benefits include anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperlipidemia, anti-oxidant

and anti-pruritic properties. The pharmacognosy of curcumin modulates

inflammatory molecules and oxidative stress mediators associated with the

pathology of various conditions.

Measuring clinical improvements in pain scores using various scales such as

the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC)

and the visual analog scale (VAS), reached significance when assessing for

therapeutic efficacy in patients with osteoarthritis. Other studies for pruritus

and hyperlipidemia also reached significance when measuring biomarkers of

oxidative stress and lipid levels to determine therapeutic efficacy in the respective

disease states.

Doses vary based upon the disease state, but most patients typically tolerate

high doses, up to 12 g per day. However, because of its chemistry, turmeric

is poorly absorbed, quickly metabolized, and rapidly eliminated, restricting

therapeutic efficacy and overall bioavailability. Combined piperine formulations

may enhance bioavailability and absorption of curcumin into the body. Other

limitations that exist when determining true therapeutic efficacy of curcumin

include a wide variation of sample populations, with very specific disease

characteristics, and a biased group of researchers because the same group

of authors publish many studies. Therefore, the ability to extrapolate the

conclusions from these trials to the average population is limited.

Ongoing studies are currently exploring therapeutic properties and efficacy of

turmeric in cancer and dementia as a potential future treatment option.

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