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Benefits of Turmeric Curcumin for Uveitis and Eye Cancer

In 1989, ophthalmologists in India found that eyedrops made from the spice turmeric (known as haridra in India) seemed to work just as well as antibiotic eyedrops in the treatment of conjunctivitis, or pink eye. So, researchers decided to give turmeric a try against more serious inflammatory eye diseases like uveitis, which blinds tens of thousands of Americans every year. Uveitis is often an autoimmune or infectious inflammation of the central structures in the eye. Steroids, given to knock down people’s immune systems, are the standard treatment, but they also carry a slew of side effects.

Researchers tried giving uveitis sufferers oral supplements of curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric thought to be responsible in part for the spice’s anti-inflammatory effects. Eighteen patients were given curcumin alone, and every one improved, showing “efficacy…comparable to corticosteroid therapy,” but without any side effects.

A larger, follow-up study was similarly encouraging. A total of 106 patients who had had a uveitis relapse in the year before starting curcumin were followed for a year. As you can see at 1:10 in my video in my video, Benefits of Turmeric Curcumin for Inflammatory Orbital Pseudotumor, only 19 had relapses in the year after starting curcumin. Altogether, the 106 patients had had multiple relapses—a total of 275 times—in the year before starting curcumin, but, in the year on curcumin, they had only 36 relapses.

If turmeric curcumin works for mild eye inflammation and serious eye inflammation, what about really serious eye inflammation, like idiopathic inflammatory orbital pseudotumours. Let’s break that down: “Idiopathic” means doctors have no idea what causes it—from the Greek idios, as in idiot. “Orbital” refers to the bony cavity that houses our eyeball, and “pseudotumor,” as in not really a tumor. A lot has changed since the study was published in 2000. “[I]nflammatory orbital pseudotumour is now generally attributed to low-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” so it does appear to be a form of cancer. Well, what can curcumin do about it?

The researchers decided to look at curcumin because the available treatments are so toxic—steroids, radiation, and chemotherapy. In fact, all of the patients in the study were initially put on steroids but had to stop them because they either did not work or they had to be withdrawn because of complications. The researchers didn’t want to use radiation because they didn’t want to blind anyone. But they had to do something. All of the patients had so much swelling that they couldn’t move their eye as they normally would. If only there were some cheap, simple, and safe solution.

Four out of the five patients who completed the study with curcumin therapy had a full response, defined as complete recovery with no residual signs or symptoms. In fact, complete regression of the eye dislocation and swelling occurred in all five out of five patients, but one patient continued to suffer some residual effects.


Mind-blowing, don’t you think? For more on what turmeric can do, see:

Who Shouldn’t Consume Curcumin or Turmeric? Learn the answer to this excellent question by watching my video.

Is the whole spice or curcumin extract better? See Turmeric Curcumin: Plants vs. Pills and Boosting the Bioavailability of Curcumin.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


29 responses to “Benefits of Turmeric Curcumin for Uveitis and Eye Cancer

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      1. The length of time had a fairly wide range of 6-22 months.

        Many of us cycle on and off of it.

        But some of us do that because supplements are expensive and I use the spice in foods, so it gets confusing for me to figure out how much I am taking.

    1. Hi,

      Dr Greger mentions 1/4 of a teaspoon and he also stated that he takes a capsule a day because it is easier and Turmeric doesnt taste too great as a powder. Also, adding black pepper increases the efficacy dramatically. I take a capsule a day, I bought a capsule making machine, they are really cheap and I add Turmeric to my food.

    1. DIFFERENT SUBJECT, BUT DR GREGOR, WHAT IS YOUR RESEARCH ON THE NEED FOR COLLAGEN FOR VEGANS AND WHAT ARE THE FOOD SOURCES IF ANY?

      1. I’m obviously not Dr Greger but dietary collagen is only required by carnivores for whom it acts as a type of fibre or roughage. We get plenty of fibre from plants and our own body makes the collagen we need.

        Any collagen consumed by humans is broken down into amino acids by the digestive process. The human body makes any collagen it needs from amino acids (except in some people with certain genetic mutation). If you wish to encourage this process you need to eat a range of proteins/amino acids. Preferably in the form of plant foods since these also contain vitamin C which is needed for collagen formation.
        https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C

        Eating collagen or taking collagen supplements appear to be just fads promoted by marketers and justified by testimonials from some people who probably experienced the placebo effect or previously had an inadequate diet. There are no good studies that I know of that demonstrate that amino acids in the form of collagen are any better than amino acids from plant foods.

  1. Re: your upcoming series on obesity. What triggered the obesity epidemic, and keeps it going, is brain damage done to fetuses and newborns by excitotoxic manufactured free glutamic acid (as in MSG and hydrolyzed proteins) passed to offspring by pregnant and lactating women who ingest ‘excessive’ amounts of this brain-damaging free amino acid:

    Samuels A. “Dose dependent toxicity of glutamic acid: A review.” International Journal of Food Properties. 2020;23(1): online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10942912.2020.1733016

    1. That’s funny. That’s not what Dr. Greger says in his new book “How Not to Diet”. He blames it on the standard American diet: fast food, factory food, highly processed and refined industrial food.

      1. No argument there, because they all contribute to obesity, and there’s MSG in all that highly processed, factory food. The epidemic started following the 1957 start of mass production of MSG (which contains brain-damaging manufactured free glutamate). Ingested in quantity by pregnant women, it destroys parts of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus that would control satiety, appetite, and food intake if they had not been destroyed. So the infant is born with brain damage, and no amount of good diet and exercise can make up for a part of the brain gone missing. Read the study. It’s online. It’s not long and it’s written in plain English: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10942912.2020.1733016

  2. I take Theracurmin HP 600mg/d “water-dispersible turmeric rhizome complex” as 2 capsules. Bottle says 180mg curcumin. Processed to be more bioavailable than plain turmeric. This product was used in a UCLA geriatric center study pub 2y ago or so. Small study of mild cognitive impairment and had dramatic results vs placebo on testing and scanning. Cost is about $1.5/d. How does this dose compare to 1t turmeric and other forms and doses, taking into account it is specially processed to raise bio-availability? Hope you easily know an easy answer. Thx.

    1. While there are lots of claims of improved health/better bioavailablity among curcurmin formulations, it seems the research is just now starting to evaluate effectiveness of different. I was able to find these two studies which may help you decide the extra price is either worth it–or not.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5861163/ Analysis of different innovative formulations of curcumin for improved relative oral bioavailability in human subjects
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326181864_Bioavailable_curcumin_formulations_A_review_of_pharmacokinetic_studies_in_healthy_volunteers

  3. Wauw what a timing, I’ve just like a starting uveitis and I’m determined to find a natural way to heal it.
    Can we just eat like 1/4 teaspoon of curcuma root? I heard that it needs some oil and peper to be absorbed by our system?
    I really prefer the natural way, and not like supplements.
    Normally I make curcuma shots in the blender with:
    – 3 turmeric roots
    – 1 large glass of water
    – Juice of a ½ lemon
    – 1 tbsp agave sirop
    – Snuff black pepper
    – A dash of olive oil
    Thank you.

  4. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high. It’s around 3%, by weight. Therefore, to get a gram a day of curcumin, you’d need over 30 grams of tumeric.

    Please check me on this. From what I remember, Dr. Greger has never recommended anything except the whole food. And he doesn’t seem to be recommending 375mg x 3/day, either, unless maybe you have a serious eye issue.

    I’m going to read up on maximum dose of curcumin/tumeric, as 30 grams is more than an ounce per day of tumeric.

  5. It is unfortunate that Dr. Greger continues to use the terms turmeric and curcumin interchangeably due to his bias against supplements and “fancy pills.” Instead of showing a photo of freshly-ground turmeric at the top of this blog, there should be a picture of a bottle of Meriva since that is precisely the compound that was used in the study. Meriva is a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex. The reason a supplement was used is simple: bioavailability. The scientific evidence with respect to curcumin is overwhelmingly on the side of the numerous novel enhanced products vs. simple dietary turmeric which is very poorly-absorbed, regardless of how much pepper and fat you add. And to answer a question below, the dosage in these studies was 375 mg. of Meriva three times a day.

  6. I was diagnosed with Uveitis/Episcleritis in 2017 at my trusted VA health center. Noticed processed food of any type, especially fast food, would send a big-time flare up in both eyes, causing horrible problems unimaginable. Was already mostly vegan, but went whole food plant based, 99% preped from scratch at home. Also began taking turmeric-curcumin supplement 1000mg daily and adding turmeric spice to all my meals as recommended by civilian ER doc also trained in anti-aging medicine. 3 years later, what a difference! Rarely have eye inflammation, now. Many improvements in my over-all physical & mental health. VA docs aren’t onboard, yet!

  7. My Husband was diagnosed with Marginal Zone Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2018. He has gone all plant based for the past two years but his is the first time I’m seeing this study and I can’t wait for him to start trying Tumeric/Cucumin eyedrops. Does anyone else have pseudo tumors that have been biopsied to show cancer? I would love any feedback of how others have treated this without chemo, radiation, or steroids.

  8. Most of y’all probably don’t have high blood pressure but you know stubborn people who do, please pass on this information.
    This is from the article below:
    “We suggest that patients with cardiac diseases, hypertension, or diabetes, who are treated with ACE2-increasing drugs, are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 infection and, therefore, should be monitored for ACE2-modulating medications, such as ACE inhibitors or ARBs. Based on a PubMed search on Feb 28, 2020, we did not find any evidence to suggest that antihypertensive calcium channel blockers increased ACE2 expression or activity, therefore these could be a suitable alternative treatment in these patients.”

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30116-8/

    Also avoid ibuprofen and hibiscus for the time being.

  9. If one has Ankylosing Spondylitis and has severe multiple uveitis currently being treated with steroids;
    1. Should turmeric drops be taken daily proactively or only with uveitis outbreak?
    2. Good source of drops?

    Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Hello, I can not purchase real Turmeric local. Who sells good Turmeric spice?
    Different subject, Thank you Dr. Greger and your staff for all you do. Is it necessary to soak grains and flour with lemond juice or apple cider vinegar to break down phytic acid? Thank you. Mike

  11. I was quite interested in the recurrent uveitis paper linked in the blog:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2964958/

    This paper treated recurrent uveitis patients with a curcumin supplement Norflo/Meriva and had quite staggering results in reducing recurrence. However, it brought up the question of systemic availability:

    “Curcumin has poor systemic availability, but recent studies have shown that the phosphatidylcholine formulation (Meriva®) increases its oral bioavailability.”

    This begs the question of equivalence. When one consumes 600mg 2x/day of Meriva, how much curcumin is available in the blood? If one were to eat turmeric how much would one have to eat to achieve the same blood concentration? How does preparation of the turmeric (fresh, powdered, cooking methods etc) affect it’s availability when consumed?

    Interested to know if any research has been found on this.

    1. A brief search suggests 100mg of curcumin is available per 3g of turmeric in one study of of turmeric containing food (a sandwich made from turmeric-containing bread and a portion of soup, plus a sweet oat bar)
      (Source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770259/)

      The Meriva product was studied against unformulated curcumin in a “A randomized, double-blind, crossover study in human found that curcumin absorption was about 29 folds higher for Meriva® compared to unformulated curcuminoid mixture.” (Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326181864_Bioavailable_curcumin_formulations_A_review_of_pharmacokinetic_studies_in_healthy_volunteers)

      Based on this the 600mg Meriva 2x/day is equivalent to curcumin 35g/day or ~1kg turmeric/day.

      Lots of inaccuracies in small study numbers and huge variability from study to study but that’s really puts things into perspective…

      1. Maybe this helps in some way.  https://bebetternow.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/UCLA-2018-Memory-Study-Gary-Small-MD.pdf  I read a summary and put my ma and self on this curcumin product for about $1.50/d. It is a tiny study that likely proves benefits to brain. Is a UCLA geriatric center study published in Am Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry. I bet new studies will show it helps elsewhere.

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