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Turmeric Extracts Containing Curcuminoids Prevent Experimental Rheumatoid Arthritis#

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Arizona Center for Phytomedicine Research, Department of Medicine, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, and Department of Pharmacology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85724, and Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045
Cite this: J. Nat. Prod. 2006, 69, 3, 351–355
Publication Date (Web):February 4, 2006
Copyright © 2006 American Chemical Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy

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    Turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for inflammatory disorders including arthritis. On the basis of this traditional usage, dietary supplements containing turmeric rhizome and turmeric extracts are also being used in the western world for arthritis treatment and prevention. However, to our knowledge, no data are available regarding antiarthritic efficacy of complex turmeric extracts similar in composition to those available for use as dietary supplements. Therefore, the studies described here were undertaken to determine the in vivo efficacy of well-characterized curcuminoid-containing turmeric extracts in the prevention or treatment of arthritis using streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis, a well-described animal model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Arthritic index, a clinical measure of joint swelling, was used as the primary endpoint for assessing the effect of extracts on joint inflammation. An essential oil-depleted turmeric fraction containing 41% of the three major curcuminoids was efficacious in preventing joint inflammation when treatment was started before, but not after, the onset of joint inflammation. A commercial sample containing 94% of the three major curcuminoids was more potent in preventing arthritis than the essential oil-depleted turmeric fraction when compared by total curcuminoid dose per body weight. In conclusion, these data (1) document the in vivo antiarthritic efficacy of an essential oil-depleted turmeric fraction and (2) suggest that the three major curcuminoids are responsible for this antiarthritic effect, while the remaining compounds in the crude turmeric extract may inhibit this protective effect.

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     Dedicated to Dr. Norman R. Farnsworth of the University of Illinois at Chicago for his pioneering work on bioactive natural products.


     Corresponding author. Tel:  (520) 626-3242. Fax:  (520) 626-1106. E-mail:  [email protected].

     Arizona Center for Phytomedicine Research.

     Department of Medicine, University of Arizona.


     Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Arizona.

     University of Kansas.

     Department of Pharmacology, University of Arizona.

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    HPLC analyses of the turmeric extracts used for the in vivo studies as well as data demonstrating the in vivo antiarthritic efficacy of the turmeric fraction are available in Figures S1 (A, B, and C) and S2 (A, B, and C), respectively. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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