Recent Blog Articles


Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work?

December 1, 2021

About the Author

photo of Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School. … See Full Bio
View all posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


Ashok Vijh, Ph.D.
November 25, 2019

There are thousands of publications in reputable scientific journals on the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin. For it(or turmeric, from which curcumin is derived) to be effective, it must be taken with black Pepper(to make its bio-availability effective) and with some oïl or fat since it is hydro-phobic and does not dissolve in an aqueous medium. Ideally , it should be taken with cold-pressed Virgin olive oïl which itself has strong anti-inflammatory properties. To really observe its effect on osteo-arthritis , one needs a few months of turmeric+black Pepper+Olive oïl ,preferably in your cooking or salads etc.

Kenneth Klein, MD
November 22, 2019

The most important limitation of this study, which was not mentioned in the commentary, was that there was not a placebo control group. Without such a control we can’t be sure that either treatment was actually better than placebo. This isn’t just a theoretical concern–there are numerous instances of studies comparing two supposedly “active” compounds against a placebo control where it was found that although both active compounds were equally effective, neither was better than placebo. In such studies, of course, it is important that participants need to be “blinded” to the treatment condition.

November 15, 2019

“Over-the-counter dietary supplements (“nutriceuticals”) are not tested or regulated the way prescription drugs are. So, information regarding purity, strength, and potential interaction with other medications or diseases is typically limited for treatments like curcumin. It’s worth noting that reports of lead contamination in turmeric have been recently published.” How many lots of commonly precribed drugs have been recalled in the past couple of years? For contamination during manufacturing, etc? Errors or negligence by compounding pharmacies?
Yes, herbs & spices (used for medicinal purposes) should be regulated, just like vitamin & mineral supplements should be–and regulated WELL, just like prescription/western/conventional medicines whose prices are sky high in the US should be well regulated as well.

Comments re: small size of sample applies to both ‘drugs’, not just curcumin.

Hedel Grunebaum
November 15, 2019

I wonder if curcumin could change the color of the skin when it is taken regularlo.

Healthy Muse
November 13, 2019

Thanks, for the nice sharing. Really, it is helpful.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.