Friday, February 14, 2014

Dr. Oz's Claims on Turmeric: Does He Just Make Things Up?

On an episode of the Dr. Oz Show this week, Oz claimed that a new study was recently released that showed that Turmeric, an Indian spice, is useful in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. He recommended a dosage of 500 mg.

Is There Such A Human Study?
After searching for such a recent (last few years) study, I couldn't find any. In fact, a study by the title of Curcumin (Turmeric) in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized-Controlled Trial (CuTIBS) was initiated in 2007, completed in 2009, and updated in 2011, but the results were never published. (see: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/results/NCT00779493). Since that time, pubmed.com, the database of clinical studies, does not identify any other such studies. Unpublished results usually mean worthless results. 

A pilot study done ten years ago in 2004, contained no control group that was given a placebo for comparison purposes. (See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15673996?dopt=Abstract) Instead of a control group, it had two study groups, with one group taking one pill and the other group taking two pills. Both groups showed some improvement of IBS symptoms. However, it's important to remember that a study for IBS showed that a group that was told it was being given a placebo still showed improvement with IBS.  Either way, non-blinded, non-randomized studies are of little clinical value.  They definitely don't rise to the level of deserving national pronouncements.

Is Turmeric Really That Helpful?

What is interesting about Turmeric is that it is a plant that is consumed mostly as an ingredient of local ethnic foods, primarily by natives of India, particularly in Southeast India, where it grows.   It is claimed to have ant-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-dementia, anti-infectious, and anti-oxidant properties. With all these health benefits, one would expect that natives of Southeast India would have longer life expectancies.  One would be very wrong and disappointed as India has one of the lowest rates of life expectancy anywhere in the world. (See:


Harms of Turmeric

Faithful readers of this blog may remember a few years back my writing about the recommendation I received from Michael Roizen, a partner with Dr. Oz on several books, who highly recommended that I consume turmeric for its multiple health benefits, including dementia prevention. (Here's an excerpt from that blog almost three years ago: 

"Dr. Roizen told me that turmeric prevents Alzheimer's and is good for brain health. Based on Dr. Roizen's suggestion that day (and my hearing him repeat the same advice a few days later on the Retirement  Living TV channel), I naively purchased turmeric and began to add it regularly to my food.

Unfortunately, the highly staining substance turned my teeth bright yellow.  After this disconcerting turn of events, I began intensively researching turmeric and discovered two disturbing facts. First, tumeric has little validated science to support its use for the indications Dr. Roizen asserted. Second, I discovered that in the absence of a black pepper called piperine, turmeric is very poorly absorbed by normal ingestion and so adding it to my food was an effort in futility, except if turning my teeth yellow was my endgame. (By the way, I had to go to a dentist to get rid of the stain.)"

It was that incident, by the way, that really started me on the path of trying to verify positive statements made about any dietary supplement.

Final (For Now) Word on Turmeric

As an aside, I am not against turmeric, or its derivative curcumin, as an ingredient in meals.  There is just no real good proof that it has a very positive effect on any major human health factor. According to naturalstandard.com, it doesn't get higher than a grade of C, for inconclusive evidence, for any clinical indication.

So once again, Dr. Oz recommends a product that lacks the scientific support he claims. He even goes so far as to give a specific untested dosage of 500 mg. 

Did he just make it up? You know the answer.

18 comments:

  1. I love it when you rip Dr. Oz a new one. I had a friend who used to faithfully follow his recommendations as well as periodically email me the latest and greatest Oz-ism. I would email her back to the effect that I thought Dr Oz was either a very well-paid idiot or a very well-paid charlatan.

    I say used to because, sadly, she is no longer with us. Also, sadly, she fell short of her life expectancy from birth by 7 years. Not saying Oz-isms killed her; just saying they sure didn't seem to help!

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    1. I'm sorry for your loss. I know how difficult it is to lose a loved one early as my brother passed away at 59 about 6 months ago.

      My goal is not to discredit De. Oz, but to point out that he doesn't base his recommendations on good science; rather, his show is all about its entertainment value and people should not confuse entertainment for good science.

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  4. You may want to get your facts straight. Here are 30 studies published by the NIH that show tumeric to be and anti-inflammatory anti barcteial and anti-viral. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637808/

    Click Here and Read How Dr Oz Redeemed Himself

    Dr Oz puts the boots to corporate medical Mafia.

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    1. Actually, I believe, I do have my facts straight. Notice the title of the paper you cited, "Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin." Why do you think they use the title "Potential?" The answer is that it has not been proven in humans to have any effect on any end measures such as preventing heart disease, cancer and/or Alzheimer's. Sorry, but those are the facts.

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  5. I have no vested interest in curcumin as I'm on here doing some research for a friend who has IBS. My experience through studying neuroscience is thus; in guiding us as to what papers to consider reading we were told that any research that makes a categorical claim of proving something is a paper NOT to read. Apparently good scientists don't make categorical claims about their research. Don't know if this is helpful for the in group or the out group, but may be something to check out and bear in mind!

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  6. found out by chance an article about the effect of turmeric on IBS:Turmeric Extract May Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptomology in Otherwise Healthy Adults: A Pilot StudyDec 2004, Vol. 10, No. 6: 1015-1018 Rafe Bundy, Ph.D.Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, The University of Reading, Reading, UK.Ann F. Walker, Ph.D.Lichtwer Pharma (UK) Ltd., Marlow, UK.Richard W. Middleton, Ph.D.Lichtwer Pharma (UK) Ltd., Marlow, UK.Jonathan Booth, M.D.Gastroenterology Department, The Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, UK.Objectives: To assess the effects of turmeric (Curcuma longa) extract on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptomology in otherwise healthy adults.Design: Partially blinded, randomized, two-dose, pilot study.Subjects: Five hundred (500) volunteers were screened for IBS using the Rome II criteria. Two hundred and seven (207) suitable volunteers were randomized.Interventions: One or two tablets of a standardized turmeric extract taken daily for 8 weeks.Outcomes measures: IBS prevalence, symptom-related quality of life (IBSQOL) and self-reported effectiveness.Results: IBS prevalence decreased significantly in both groups between screening and baseline (41% and 57%), with a further significant drop of 53% and 60% between baseline and after treatment, in the one- and two-tablet groups respectively (p < 0.001). A post-study analysis revealed abdominal pain/discomfort score reduced significantly by 22% and 25% in the one- and two-tablet group respectively, the difference tending toward significance (p = 0.071). There were significant improvements in all bar one of the IBSQOL scales of between 5% and 36% in both groups, approximately two thirds of all subjects reported an improvement in symptoms after treatment, and there was a favorable shift in self-reported bowel pattern. There were no significant differences between groups.Conclusions: Turmeric may help reduce IBS symptomology. Placebo controlled trials are now warranted to confirm these findings.

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  7. Curcumin (Tumeric) extract has been used for hundreds of years for an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent. I have suggested it to many people including doctors that suffered with IBS, joint pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical doses that come in pill form. Tumeric as a spice is very staining and will die anything it touches yellow. I use it as a face mask for acne with other ingredients and it does not stain my face. If I did not mix it correctly or just added tumeric to my face of course it would stain it. It will also stain your nails yellow. So if you want the best benefits of Curcumin look for it in pill form it really does help with pain and inflammation all over the body. I don't take pain medication there's way to many natural remedies out there. You just gotta know how to use them.

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  8. This post is so informative and makes a very nice image on the topic in my mind. It is the first time I visit your blog, but I was extremely impressed. Keep posting as I am gonna come to read it everyday!
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  9. Good points and summary. I would remove your point about India having one of the lowest life expectancies in the world because that is inaccurate (average life expectancy in India is pretty much equal to the world average life expectancy, and there are almost 60 countries with lower life expectancies), and there are obviously numerous other confounding factors that explain the life expectancy there being lower than most western countries, making this a poor point to cite as evidence against the effectiveness of turmeric anyway. But that's tangential - this article does a good job of summing up the lack of scientific evidence for turmeric as a "treatment for IBS" - thanks for sharing it with us!

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  10. Turmeric herbs is wonderfully and effective supplements for boost your fitness!

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  11. It helped my IBS and my arthritis. Glad I tried it!

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  12. It helped my IBS and my arthritis. Glad I tried it!

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  13. There are far too many people out there that have found excellent results from the use of Turmeric, whether there is "scientific evidence" or not. The "evidence" lies in the results for many. While prescription medicines have their place, often times natural solutions offer equal or better results without the serious side effects. I am neither a fan nor hater of Dr. Oz. My comment has nothing to do with his credibility, but more of your intention to prove that your information is more reliable. The truth is that there are many natural treatments that one will not find supporting "scientific evidence" of because the drug companies will NEVER sponsor such research and will do all they can to cover up or discredit the research of others.

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  14. I am trying turmeric because i am sick of taking pain aid, don't want knee surgery. I am under going a procedure to help with arthritis but also supplementing with turmeric. I'll let yoy know the results.

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  16. ALL THANKS TO DR WILLIAMS FOR THE GREAT DEED HE HAVE DON FOR MY DAUGHTER?
    My daughter suffered from a terrible irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for more than 23 years which started after she turned 5 we all thought it will end but got even worse as days went by. We tried all several treatments and therapy prescribed by various doctors we met but to no avail, She usually tells me she feeling stomach pain. This were steady pain that disrupted her entire life, even at night she screams even more because the pain become worst and she slept less because of this.It was during a casual conversation with a friend that i learned about dr Williams herbal medicine I was able to contact him on his email address. and give him all the necessary information that he needed,few day later he sent me the herbal portion and his medicine was able to restore her back to normal and she is very okay now without any side effects whatsoever. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, do not hesitate to contact him on drwilliams098765@gmail.com for advice and for his product. I hope this also helps someone out there.

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