Use Turmeric for Indigestion, Study Says

Scientists found that a compound in turmeric called curcumin was just as effective as omeprazole in reducing the symptoms of stomach upset.

People experiencing recurring stomach upset with no known cause — AKA functional dyspepsia, often turn to antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like omeprazole (Prilosec, Prilosec OTC, Zegerid) to relieve symptoms.

However, studies have linked long-term use of PPIs to an increased risk of fractures, infections in children, and dementia.

Now, a new study conducted at university hospitals in Thailand may have found an alternative to drugs like omeprazole.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, published on September 11 in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, found that using turmeric for indigestion may reduce the symptoms of functional dyspepsia as effectively as omeprazole.

Turmeric contains curcumin — a compound known to provide many health benefits. Currently, clinicians in Southeast Asia use turmeric to treat dyspepsia, but scientists are uncertain whether it's effective.

For the study, scientists initially recruited 206 people aged 18 to 70 with functional dyspepsia. The research team divided the participants into three groups.

  • The curcumin group took two 250 mg capsules of curcumin four times a day and one placebo capsule.
  • The omeprazole participants received one 20 mg omeprazole capsule per day and two placebo capsules four times a day.
  • An omeprazole and curcumin combo group took two capsules of 250 mg curcumin four times daily and one 20 mg omeprazole capsule once daily.

The participants took the capsules for 28 days.

Using the Severity of Dyspepsia Assessment (SODA) score, the scientists assessed the participants' symptoms at the study's onset and again on days 28 and 56.

During the study period, several participants dropped out, leaving a total number of 151 participants.

After analyzing the data, the team found that on day 28, participants in all groups experienced significant reductions in functional dyspepsia symptoms, including pain. Moreover, on day 56, these symptom improvements were even more pronounced.

Though the team did not observe any severe side effects, liver function tests deteriorated slightly among some participants with higher BMIs.

Still, despite the small number of participants and the short study period, the scientists say that their findings provide evidence that using turmeric for indigestion may be an alternative to omeprazole for people with functional dyspepsia.

In conclusion, the authors wrote, "Future studies should examine the long-term benefits and harms (at least 6–12 months) of curcumin in functional dyspepsia, the use of curcumin on demand in the long term on functional dyspepsia, and the efficacy of curcumin in other functional gastrointestinal disorders."

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