Turmeric may be as effective in treating indigestion as medication, a study has suggested. The research, published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, marks the first of its kind to compare the efficacy of a natural compound found in turmeric with omeprazole, a drug used to reduce excess stomach acid and treat indigestion.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a naturally active compound known for its potential anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It has been a traditional remedy for various ailments, including indigestion, in south-east Asia.
The study conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 206 patients aged 18 to 70 with recurrent upset stomach, of which 151 completed the study, The Guardian reported.
These patients were recruited from Thai hospitals between 2019 and 2021 and were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups for a 28-day period.
The groups included: one group taking turmeric (two large 250 mg curcumin capsules four times a day) along with one small placebo capsule; another group taking omeprazole (one small 20 mg capsule daily and two large placebo capsules four times a day); and a third group taking both turmeric and omeprazole.
Omeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), is commonly used to treat indigestion (dyspepsia). It’s a condition most people experience at some point in their lives, typically not indicating anything more serious and often manageable without medical intervention.
However, long-term use of PPIs has been associated with increased fracture risk, micronutrient deficiencies, and a heightened risk of infections, according to the researchers.
At the outset of the trial, patients in all three groups exhibited similar clinical characteristics and indigestion scores, as measured by the severity of dyspepsia assessment score or Soda.
After 28 days, patients were reassessed, with another evaluation after 56 days.
The researchers discovered that oral curcumin was both safe and well-tolerated, and all three groups experienced similar improvements in their symptoms.
Acknowledging the study’s limitations, such as its small size and the short intervention period with a lack of long-term monitoring data, the researchers emphasised the need for larger, longer-term studies.
Nonetheless, they concluded that this multi-centre randomised controlled trial provides highly reliable evidence for the treatment of functional dyspepsia and suggests that curcumin may be considered in clinical practice.