Turmeric is a popular culinary spice and herbal remedy, and there is a growing body of research relating to its therapeutic use. However, it is not clear which preparations of turmeric are most effective and for which disorders. The aim of this paper was to conduct a meta-review of systematic reviews (SRs) to provide a status update for practitioners and researchers on the use of turmeric as a therapeutic option.
Reviews were selected that evaluated the use of oral turmeric products versus a placebo or standard care for the treatment of different health conditions. Two reviewers screened the SRs for inclusion, extracted and analysed the data. Review quality was assessed by R-AMSTAR and the quality of evidence expressed according to GRADE.
Overall 65 SRs were retrieved covering 20 disease topics. There was moderate quality evidence to support the use of turmeric/curcumin for relieving pain and improving physical function in osteoarthritis. There was low quality evidence for its use in metabolic syndrome, inflammatory conditions and other diseases. The SR data suggested that whole turmeric and bioavailability-enhanced preparations may be useful for different conditions. Turmeric was safe and well tolerated.
There are multiple SRs that have examined the use of oral turmeric/curcumin for treating non-communicable diseases. Further primary studies on targeted patient groups would strengthen the evidence in areas that show most promise including osteoarthritis and metabolic syndrome. Future research should accommodate the complexity of turmeric medicines when designing studies to inform research and clinical decisions.