A new pilot human study1 conducted by Indena (Milan, Italy) found that curcumin (Curcuma longa) in the form of its proprietary turmeric phytosome, Meriva, may help support bone health. The study is said to be the first to examine the effects of curcumin on bone density in humans.
As the study notes, osteopenia, a chronic bone condition of low bone density, has become increasingly prevalent and, if left untreated, can lead to osteoporosis. In addition, researchers say, osteopenia among adults in the U.S. over the age of 50 is expected to increase from 43.4 million in 2010 to 57.2 million in 2030. While proper nutrition is the best way to prevent osteopenia, the researchers say, in vitro and in vivo studies have shown an association between curcumin and improved bone mass density.
A total of 57 healthy subjects with low bone density were enrolled in the study. The participants were randomized into two groups. The control group followed a standard management (SM) consisting of a diet with vitamins D and C and calcium and 20 minutes of exercise four times per week. The study group received a daily oral supplement of 1 g Meriva curcumin combined with the SM. As a phytosome, Meriva consists of curcumin bound to the phospholipid phosphatidylcholine—a format said to make curcumin more easily absorbed by the body.
Over a study period of six months, researchers evaluated subjects’ bone density in the heel (measured by the Sahara densitometer), small finger, and upper jaw. Bone density for the small finger and upper jaw was evaluated with an ultrasound scanner measuring the grey scale media (GSM) of the images. Measurements were recorded at 4, 12, and 24 weeks.
The researchers noted significant improvements in the Meriva groups’ bone density, particularly in the heel, with a substantial decrease in ultrasounds transmission values at weeks 12 (-18.4%) and 24 (-21.0%), compared to baseline. In addition, GSM measurements reflected significant increases in bone density, reaching +7.1% for the small finger and +4.8% for the upper jaw. No significant changes were observed in the control group, and there were no noted safety or tolerability issues over the course of the study.
The results of the preliminary study indicate that curcumin, in combination with a healthy lifestyle, has the potential to mitigate bone loss and prevent osteopenia, researchers say. Antonella Riva, product researcher manager, Indena, said in a press release: “These new positive clinical data broaden the existing findings on the efficacy of dietary supplementation with Meriva in contributing to manag[ing] certain health conditions, potentially impacting…life quality, including bone health.”
- Dugall M et al. “Effects of a curcumin-based supplementation in asymptomatic subjects with low bone density: a preliminary 24-week supplement study.” European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, vol. 21, no. 7 (April 2017): 1684-1689