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Special Turmeric Extract Benefits Osteoarthritis Patients

Special Turmeric Extract Benefits Osteoarthritis Patients

A new clinical trial supports thebenefits to people with osteoarthritis who used a unique extract of turmeric (Curcumalonga).1 Scientists in Italy have studiedthe pain-relief, increased flexibility, and other effects of a special,patented extract of the roots of turmeric, the flavorful spice that has beenused for centuries as a traditional remedy. Turmeric formulations have shown awide range of safety and significant scientific and clinical benefits in recentanimal research and human clinical trials.2,3

Thecharacteristic yellow color of turmeric, which is found in many yellow mustardsand yellow curry preparations, derives from compounds known collectively ascurcuminoids, whose most abundant member is curcumin. Curcumin is difficult toabsorb into the human bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract when consumedorally.4

Researchers inItaly selected 50 patients with X-ray diagnosed osteoarthritis in either one orboth knees to evaluate if the special turmeric formulation called Meriva® couldprovide more benefits to their standard medical therapy. In this trial, thepatients were split into two groups: the first one received standard medicaltreatment as determined by patients’ physicians, while patients in the secondgroup added the special curcumin extract to their standard medical treatment.

After90 days, the following benefits were observed: Comparedto the controls, patients in the Meriva group experienced a 58 percent decreasein their overall pain, stiffness and physical functionality as measured by thewidely used medical scoring method developed by Western Ontario and McMaster Universities(WOMAC). In addition, the Social and Emotional Index (SEI) score resulted in agreater than 300 percent improvement in Meriva patients compared to patientsnot taking the curcumin extract. Blood tests indicated that in patients havingelevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a 16-fold decrease of thisinflammation marker was observed in the Meriva group. Finally, the subjectsusing Meriva were able to reduce their reliance on standard painkillers(NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) by 63 percent compared topatients on conventional medical therapy alone.

Taken together, these data showthat Meriva turmeric extract improves theclinical benefit of a standard NSAIDs-based treatment of osteoarthritis, makingit possible for patients to decrease their medication load and increase itsefficacy.

Consistent with data from other human studies on various typesof turmeric extracts, Meriva demonstrated a high degree of safety withoutproducing any serious adverse side effects.

“This is great news for peoplewho suffer from osteoarthritis and the physicians who treat them,” said MarkBlumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit American BotanicalCouncil, an independent herbal medicine research and education organization inAustin, Texas.

“Turmeric has long been known tohave anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties and this trial, on thisspecial turmeric extract, is another important step towards validating thecurcumin in turmeric as an increasingly popular herbal dietary supplement. Whenone considers the overall safety of turmeric extract and curcumin, especiallycompared to some of the pharmaceutical drugs which have had to be removed fromthe market due to serious safety concerns, the growing clinical evidence forthe use of turmeric extract is compelling,” he added.


The authors ofthis trial write that “curcumin is one of the most extensively investigated products ofnatural origin. Its broad spectrum of bioactivity and low oral toxicity haveexpanded its use to several clinical conditions. Many potential beneficialproperties of the natural product [i.e. curcumin] have not produced effectiveclinical results because curcumin shows a poor water solubility and stability,a low and unpredictable oral absorption, and a quick metabolism.”1 Researchersbelieve that these problems have hampered the clinical development of curcuminas a pharmaceutical product and as a dietary supplement. Meriva has exhibitedhigh levels of oral bioavailability ina previous comparative animal pharmacokinetic* study.5

The Merivacurcumin extact used in this clinical trial is a special patented combinationof curcumin with soybean-derived phosphatidylcholine (1:2 ratio). P roduced and distributed by Indena SpA of Milan, Italy, the world’slargest manufacturer of standardized botanical extracts for the food, dietarysupplement, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Meriva has recently beenintroduced into the market as a dietary supplement ingredient marketed in theUSA and Europe. In this clinical study, Meriva capsules prepared by ThorneResearch Inc. (Dover, Idaho, USA) were used at a dosage of 1 gram Merivacurcumin complex per day (standardizedto contain 18-22 percent curcuminoids, and  correspondingto 200 mg curcumin per day).


About Turmeric


Turmericis a traditional spice, food and medicine, native to southeast Asia, and widelyused in Ayurvedic system of traditional medicine in India. Turmeric is madefrom the roots and rhizomes (lateral roots) of the turmeric plant, a member ofthe same plant family as ginger. According to arecent review article, over 2,500 preclinical scientific investigations havesupported the activity of curcumin from turmeric as a potential agent to treatdirectly or as an adjunct treatment for various chronic diseases such asinflammatory diseases, some forms of cancer and possibly also Alzheimer’sdisease. Turmeric’s popularity has risen tremendously in the past fewyears as consumers learn more about its safety and wide spectrum of healthbenefits.2,3 Turmeric dietary supplements were ranked 5th insales in natural food stores in 2009, up about 23 percent from the previousyear, generating over $10 million in sales in that market channel alone,according to a report in the American Botanical Council’s journal HerbalGram, based on information from SPINS, a market research firm which monitors sales ofdietary supplements in the natural food channel of trade.6

About the American Botanical Council

Founded in 1988,the American Botanical Council is a leading international nonprofitorganization addressing research and educational issues regarding herbs andmedicinal plants. ABC’s members include academic researchers and educators,universities and libraries, health professionals and medical institutions,botanical gardens and arboreta, government agencies, members of the herb,dietary supplement, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries, journalists,consumers and other interested parties from over 70 countries. The organizationoccupies a historic 2.5-acre site in Austin, Texas where it publishes thequarterly journal HerbalGram, the monthly e-publication HerbalEGram, HerbClips(summaries of scientific and clinical publications), reference books and othereducational materials. ABC also hosts HerbMedPro, a powerful and time-savingherbal database covering scientific and clinical publications on 225 herbs, andco-produces “Herbal Insights” segments on the Healing Quest


television program, available on more than 145public television stations in the United States.


ABC is tax-exemptunder section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. Information: Contact ABC at P.O. Box144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345, Phone: 512-926-4900. Website:


* Pharmacokinetics is the study of the absorption,metabolism and excretion of specific nutritional or drug compounds in humans oranimals.


1. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Dugall M, Pellegrini L, LeddaA, Grossi MG, Togni S, Appendino G. Product-evaluation registry of Meriva®,curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, for the complementary management ofosteoarthritis.

PanMinerva Med. 2010;52 (Suppl. 1 to No. 1):55-62.

2. Aggarwal BB, Sung B. Pharmacological basis for the roleof curcumin in chronic diseases: an age-old spice with modern targets. TrendsPharmacol Sci. 2009;30:85-94.

3. Engels G. Turmeric (Curcumalonga ). HerbalGram.2010;86:1-3.

4.Anand P, Kunnumakkara AB, Newman RA, Aggarwal BB. Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems andPromises. Mol Pharmaceutics. 2007;4(6):807-818.

5. Marczylo T, Verschoyle R, Cooke D,Morazzoni P, Steward W, Gescher A, Comparison of systemic availability ofcurcumin with that of curcumin formulated with phosphatidylcholine. ChemotherPharmacol.