Turmeric for Ulcerative Colitis

Turmeric For Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a disease of the digestive system.  Ulcerative colitis is limited to the large intestine (colon and rectum) and is characterized by inflammation that occurs in the innermost lining of the intestine.  Ulcers may form on the lining of the stomach and the disease can also affect the eyes, skin, and joints. Ulcerative colitis falls under the category of Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD and should not be confused with Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which is not an inflammatory condition. Living with this disease can affect the quality of life for those who suffer from it, but there are natural ways to assist in the healing of the gut. Today I’d like to make you aware of the natural food called turmeric for ulcerative colitis healing.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice and one of the main components of curry powder.  It was first isolated nearly two centuries ago in 1815 by two German scientists. Its biological activity wasn’t studied until 1949 in Nature for its antibacterial properties and the first clinical trial was published in The Lancet in 1937.  The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. In India, turmeric is used to treat health conditions due to its anti-inflammatory quality.

Compelling evidence has shown that curcumin in turmeric has the ability to inhibit inflammation in various diseases all while being safe and non-toxic. The use of medicinal plants and spices, like turmeric, have become an increasingly attractive approach for ulcerative colitis for those patients that do not respond to drugs or who do not want to take heavy-duty drugs that have undesirable side effects.

Study of Curcumin Vs Placebo for Ulcerative Colitis and Relapse Rate

Recent Studies of Turmeric and Ulcerative Colitis

  1. Curcumin in turmeric scavenges free radicals and nitric oxide. Free radicals are unstable molecules that wreak havoc on healthy cells.  Nitric oxide is good to the body in small amounts but is a danger when levels are high. Ulcerative colitis patients have high inflammation and high nitric oxide levels (Sreejayan & Rao, 1997).
  2. Mice treated with curcumin in turmeric decreased the severity of large intestine damage.  These changes resulted in a decrease in the weight of the colon and spleen that were treated with 50, 100 or 300 mg of curcumin, according to a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
  3. Curcumin in turmeric was superior to placebo in maintaining remission in patients with ulcerative colitis. A randomized, double-blind, Japanese study determined the relapse rate for those patients taking curcumin was significantly lower than the placebo group.
  4. A placebo-controlled maintenance trial of curcumin 2 g/day for 6 months showed a trend towards a reduced relapse rate (4% vs. 18%, RR 0.24, P = 0.06) and a significantly reduced endoscopic score.

Should you take Turmeric or Curcumin?

turmeric vs curcumin

The technical difference between the two is that turmeric is the yellowish powder used to flavor foods, while curcumin is the nutrient found in turmeric.

Most clinical studies use turmeric extract. The powdered spice turmeric has fewer “curcuminoid” compounds (curcumin) by weight than turmeric extract — which are believed to be important to turmeric’s effects. In turmeric extracts, the concentration of curcumin is very high, almost 95% and is why turmeric extract is used in studies.

According to ConsumerLab, turmeric extracts are less likely to be contaminated with heavy metals such as lead. If that’s not enough, turmeric powders can contain filth such as insect parts. Always check on the purity of the brand of turmeric powder you use.

So if you think sprinkling a little bit of turmeric spice on your food once a day will get you the same results as in the studies, that would be a stretch.  

My recommendation would be to stick to turmeric extracts when suffering from ulcerative colitis and use turmeric powder as a spice in cooking.

***TIP ***

Turmeric and curcumin are not easily absorbed by the body.  Black pepper or piperine ( a substance in black pepper responsible for its pungency) should be added to your turmeric powder or should come standard in your turmeric extract supplement.   

Be patient when taking turmeric supplements as the full benefit may not be felt for 60 days.

Turmeric precautions
  • If you suffer from liver disease it’s best to not take turmeric at all, but check with your healthcare practitioner.
  • Rarely, if turmeric is taken daily over a prolonged period of time, some mild stomach upset may occur.
  • If you are a diabetic, be aware that turmeric may reduce blood sugar levels.  A good thing, but you need to be aware of this.
  • If you are pregnant, avoid turmeric as there is a possibility of uterine stimulation.
  • If nursing, talk to your doctor.
  • Stop using turmeric two weeks before surgery as it can cause excessive bleeding.
  • Do not take turmeric if you have gallstones and check with your healthcare practitioner.
  • Young children should not take turmeric.

Changing Habits Turmeric Powder


Adults: take 400 to 600mgs of turmeric extract three times a day or as recommended by your health-care practitioner.

**Great brands to try **

Schwartz Bioresearch      Doctor Recommended

Final word

Turmeric powder is a spice that has been used for centuries for it’s healing and anti-inflammatory properties.  Turmeric’s main component is curcumin and curcumin have been studied for its ability to reduce inflammation for many health conditions including ulcerative colitis.  In fact, studies show the remission times are longer for those suffering from ulcerative colitis who take turmeric extract.

I love to hear from my readers! I’ll get right back to you!



Linda Watson is a Certified Health Coach

18 Comments Add yours
  1. Hello Linda – thanks for giving more details on the turmeric and the importance of it. Usually we from India prefer turmeric in most of our foods and I came to know that little turmeric taken with milk has an effect killing almost 150 bacterial infections in human body – what is your comment on that? And I would always go with turmeric. Keep well.

    1. Hello Manasir, thank you for your comment! Yes, if you are healthy, then adding turmeric to your food is perfect to keep your body in great shape by naturally reducing inflammation. I have a recipe for Golden Milk on my website, it’s turmeric, milk and raw honey. Delicious and a perfect drink to take, I highly agree with you. Taking turmeric extract or curcumin, is for those people who are suffering from illness. They need a standardized dose that is rich in the turmeric healing component, curcumin. So if you suffer from ulcerative colitis, pain, arthritis or any inflammation, it’s critical to take the extract and not the powder.

  2. Hello Linda. Thanks for the information that you’ve provided on ulcerative colitis as it’s a disease that should not be ignored. I would prefer to use turmeric extract if I was to ever get in contact with the disease.

  3. Thanks for explaining the differences between turmeric and curcumin. I use turmeric in my cooking as much as possible to combat inflammation and hope I won’t reach the point to where I would have to resort to the extract!

  4. Hi, I am interested in some more info on Turmeric. I have Inclusion Body Myositis, which is an autoimmune disease. I have wondered if Turmeric would be helpful. The problem is I am not able to swallow capsules. Does Turmeric come in a liquid form? When I have to I open capsules and swallow with water, but that makes for some pretty awful tastes and often burning. Any suggestions?

  5. Hi! Very interesting information regarding the difference between turmeric and curcumin. That is something I didn’t know. I had heard of using turmeric as an anti-inflammatory. I have bookmarked your page, because I want to re-read it and maybe find a way to help with my arthritis, since there is not much that seems to help. Thanks for the great info!

  6. Hi Linda! So interesting, I’ve used turmeric for a while just on the anecdotal knowledge from relatives that it is healthy and anti-inflammatory. But, learning about it as it relates to gut health and seeing all of the research you’ve compiled in one place is so helpful! Now I feel a lot more confident in my knowledge of the usefulness/uses of the spice, and feel that I can recommend it to friends and relatives who might need it. Thanks!

  7. This is indeed an informative article. Thanks for the clarification with curcumin and turmeric. I have always thought that both are the same. I love using tumeric for the same reasons that you have mentioned. I cook with it, make tea with it and put it in warm water to drink, but I don’t overuse it, and I take a break from it after awhile. I only use the powder and the root. Where can I get the extract to buy?

  8. Hi. thanks for this informative and educative post on turmeric. I have never cooked with it but I have always heard so many great things about turmeric but never tried it. I will start adding a bit into my cooking because of its anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve learnt so much from your post today. Thanks again.

  9. Hi Linda,
    This is a very interesting piece, in fact it’s a very good site in general.
    I had no idea spices like turmeric had these kinds of health benefits.
    I don’t believe I have anything like ulcerative colitis but I’m very irregular and my stomach bloats a lot after eating I also have to take omeprazole for acid reflux. I’ve cut down on spices foods, fatty foods and alcohol which have helped a bit with the bloating.
    I also try to avoid white flour products preferring whole grain.
    Are there any suggestions for supplements I can take to calm acid reflux down at all?
    I don’t like being dependent on drugs.

    1. Hi Paul, glad you enjoyed the article. Yes, there are supplements you can take to help with GERD. It’s very important to get your reflux under control because the acid assaulting your esophagus can lead to Barret’s esophagus. Here is the blog post with recommendations for supplements too. Life Extension has a good supplement to protect your esophagus too. Here is a link to pages on my blog relating to GERD and reflux.

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