According to a study published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, a natural compound found within the spice turmeric may be as effective as the medication called omeprazole which is used to curb excess stomach acid for treating indigestion symptoms.
In addition to being used in traditional Ayurvedic Medicine in various remedies including indigestion, turmeric contains a naturally active compound called curcumin which previous studies suggest has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. However, it is not clear how well its use would compare with conventional drugs this study set out to investigate the comparison between curcumin and omeprazole.
Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) which is used to treat functional dyspepsia. Dyspepsia symptoms can include but are not limited to making a person feel excessively full after eating, feeling full after only eating very little food, as well as pain and/or burning sensations in the stomach and/or food pipe. Long-term use of PPIs is linked to an increased risk of fractures, micronutrient deficiencies, and a heightened risk of infections, making finding alternatives important.
206 participants between the ages of 18-70 years old with recurrent upset stomachs of unknown cause were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups for 28 days. One group received two large 250 mg capsules of curcumin 4 times a day plus one small dummy capsule; the second group received one small 20 mg capsule of omeprazole daily plus two large dummy capsules 4 times a day; and the last group received turmeric plus omeprazole.
According to the researchers, 151 of the participants completed the study. Participants in all 3 groups presented similar clinical characteristics and indigestion scores as assessed by the Severity of Dyspepsia Assessment score or SODA at the beginning of the study period, and they were reassessed after 18 days and then again after 56 days. No serious side effects were reported, although among those carrying extra weight liver function tests indicated some level of deterioration in the curcumin users.
Scores reflected a significant reduction in symptom severity by day 28 for pain (−4.83, –5.46 and −6.22) and other symptoms (−2.22, –2.32, and −2.31) for those in the combined, curcumin alone, and omeprazole alone groups, respectively. After 56 days the improvements were even stronger for pain (−7.19, –8.07 and −8.85, respectively) and other symptoms (−4.09, –4.12 and −3.71, respectively).
The researchers noted that additional studies are needed and acknowledged several limitations, despite these they concluded that “This multicentre randomised controlled trial provides highly reliable evidence for the treatment of functional dyspepsia,” adding that “the new findings from our study may justify considering curcumin in clinical practice.”