While there are many drugs to ease symptoms of an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like ulcerative colitis (UC), you may want to add a natural approach to your treatment plan.
One option that has been gaining more attention in recent years is turmeric, a spice derived from a plant related to ginger. Linda Antinoro, RD, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who works with patients with IBD says: “For people with mild to moderate symptoms, it may be a tool that helps with the inflammation process. More and more doctors are putting turmeric in their repertoire to help treat ulcerative colitis.”
That’s because more research is being done looking at its effectiveness as a potential treatment. But so far, the evidence around this is still a bit shaky.
What the Research Shows About Turmeric and IBD
The majority of studies that show turmeric can help ease UC symptoms have been done in animals. It’s difficult to translate these findings to humans because our bodies work differently than other mammals, but some small studies provide hope that the spice may benefit people, too.
A study published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that among UC patients in remission, those who took curcumin — the main substance in turmeric — had a lower relapse rate than those who took a placebo.
“Only 4 percent of patients taking 2 grams per day of curcumin relapsed over six months, compared with 18 percent of patients taking placebo,” explains Alan Moss, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, who coauthored a later review published in 2012 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, which investigated research looking at curcumin and UC.
He goes on to say; " Because the earlier study only included 89 patients, “this difference was not statistically significant.”
A study published in May 2017 in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that curcumin was not effective in inducing remission in patients with mild to moderate UC.
Still, experts like Dr. Moss say more research is warranted to see if turmeric can be beneficial to IBD patients.
In the meantime, if people with UC want to try to add curcumin to their treatment plan, they should consult with their healthcare provider first.
Ways to Incorporate Turmeric in Your Diet Talk to your doctor to determine if you should take turmeric supplements, and in what form. Turmeric is available in capsule, fluid extract, or tincture form, with a range of dosage recommendations.
To get more turmeric in your diet naturally, Antinoro recommends sprinkling the spice on:
1. Scrambled eggs
2. Oatmeal or cream of wheat
3. Any blended fruit or vegetable smoothies
4. Tomato sauce
People with UC can also add the spice to hot water to make turmeric tea, or to hot milk for turmeric lattes if they are not lactose intolerant.
Finally, Linda Antinoro emphasizes the importance of speaking with a registered dietitian to make sure your diet is healthy, balanced, and optimal to help with any IBD-related symptoms.
“Usually when people turn to turmeric they’re embracing it as part of all the lifestyle aspects that can help with ulcerative colitis symptoms,” she says. “We’re learning more about how seasons and spices are part of that healthy eating routine.”
Read More about Linda Antinoro
Source: Everyday Health
Medically Reviewed by Lynn Grieger, RDN
Image Source: Everyday Health/ Getty Images