Turmeric may improve bone health and strength
5 April 2016
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the curry spice turmeric, is protective in bone remodelling (the continuous process by which new bone is created and old bone is removed) and may have potential as a treatment across a range of bone disorders, say Australian researchers.
Writing in the Nature publication BoneKey Reports, the University of Sydney researchers review curcurmin’s potential in osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, osteosarcoma and bone metastases.
They say curcumin may be a promising candidate for preventing and/or treating fractures due to osteoporosis. One rat study showed that curcumin suppresses the breakdown of bone (bone resorption) by inhibiting the production of osteoclasts, the cells that re-absorb bone, while another study using a postmenopausal rat model found curcumin improves bone turnover and increases bone strength.
The compound also has potential for treating osteosarcoma and bone metastases (tumours that have spread from the primary site to the bone), the researchers say.
In a thyroid cancer study, curcumin significantly altered the main steps involved in metastasis, decreasing the migration of cancer cells by up to 87%.
And in breast cancer, promising animal studies in reducing osteolytic bone metastases with curcumin have led to a human trial to test a combination of docetaxel and curcumin in advanced and metastatic cancer.
The phase 2 study is currently under way and the authors say they expect a response rate of up to 50% of patients.
And finally, curcumin is being tested in osteoarthritis, where early laboratory studies have shown it can inhibit inflammatory markers such as IL-6, IL-8, lipooxygenase and COX-2. A recent randomised trial in humans has provided robust evidence of its effectiveness in reducing pain and function in osteoarthritis, although further work is needed to assess whether curcumin can actually prevent or limit the progress of the disease.