New Evidence Shows The Active Ingredient In Turmeric May Help Symptoms Of IBD
Many people experience digestive discomfort like bloating and cramping from time to time, but the symptoms of those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be extremely severe and even life-threatening.
While there is no cure for IBD, treatment options range from pharmaceuticals like steroids and immunosuppressants to specialized diets to herbal nutraceuticals. And based on new data presented at a recent Crohn's & Colitis conference, curcumin, the active anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric, might be a promising tool for those with IBD as well.
New treatments show promising results.
The latest data presented at the 2023 Crohn's & Colitis Congress included three exciting new developments in treatment options for IBD:
- Plant-based therapy against ulcerative colitis. A combination treatment of herbal compounds curcumin and QingDai (QD, Indigo), an herbal formula popular in Chinese medicine, was observed to be significantly more effective at reducing symptoms than a placebo in individuals with active ulcerative colitis.
- Treating Crohn's in oxygen chambers. A meta-review of the use of hyperbaric oxygen found this therapy to be effective at reducing inflammation, meaningfully improving symptoms among those studied.
- The power of prediction with an Apple Watch. The nervous symptom markers measurable on wearable devices like the Apple Watch are found to help predict IBD flares. The ability to predict these flares helps people start their treatments earlier, making them more effective.
A quick note on the curcumin and QingDai finding: Alternative, herbal, and plant therapies have been taken seriously and studied for over a decade1 as treatment options for those living with IBD. That said, this field of study is not intended to replace therapeutic drugs. Alternatively, we can use these new findings as a way to bolster our approach to disease in general.
As discussed in a mindbodygreen podcast episode with herbal medicine expert Bill Rawls, M.D., comparing herbal remedies to drug therapies is like comparing apples and oranges. Instead, studies like the ones presented at the 2023 Crohn's & Colitis Congress show us how beneficial additional options and complementary therapies can be.
The many health benefits of curcumin.
One bonus of using herbal compounds like curcumin is that you are likely to enjoy an array of additional benefits. Consuming the active compound in turmeric can also help promote joint comfort2 and support the immune system3—as well as deliver digestive perks.
In the case of turmeric, its low bioavailability means that simply using the spice while cooking may fall short when it comes to reaping any therapeutic benefits. That's why taking a supplement specifically formulated for your needs is an important part of the equation. It's important to choose supplements that are recommended by experts, as not all supplements are created equal. Here's a list of the best daily turmeric supplements to start your search.
Updates out of the Crohn's & Colitis Congress outline three promising therapies for anyone living with IBD. Turmeric (thanks to curcumin, its active anti-inflammatory compound) is one plant-based tool that's been shown to be very effective and have few negative side effects. Treatment using hyperbaric oxygen chambers, as well as flare prediction using Apple Watches, also point toward advancements in treatment options to help reduce symptoms of those with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
Anyone having difficulty treating IBD or a digestive disease should be sure to consult an expert when choosing the right protocol for them.
Jenny is a San Francisco-based mbg health contributor, content designer, and climate & sustainability communications specialist. She is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara. An avid open-water swimmer, Jenny has worked for healthy living and nutrition brands like Sun Basket, Gather Around Nutrition, and Territory Foods.