Indigestion remedies: Turmeric may be as effective as omeprazole

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
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Turmeric could help an upset stomach as much as some prescribed drugs for indigestion. annabogush/Getty Images
  • Turmeric can be just as effective as omeprazole at reducing stomach acid associated with dyspepsia, according to a new study.
  • Turmeric is a spice that has been traditionally used as an antacid in Southeast Asia.
  • This is the first direct comparison of turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, with the medication omeprazole.

In the U.S. and other Western nations, doctors often prescribe omeprazole, a protein-pump inhibitor (PPI), to help reduce acid when a person is experiencing dyspepsia or stomach discomfort.

A new double-blind, placebo controlled trial compared omeprazole’s effectiveness to that of the natural spice turmeric, which has long been used as an antacid in Southeast Asia. The study is the first head-to-head comparison of the two antacid therapies.

The study found that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is as effective as omeprazole at resolving dyspepsia.

The study conducted in Thailand involved 206 participants. Their age averaged 49.7 years, plus or minus 11.9 years, and 73.4% of them were women.

They were divided into three groups:

  • A group of 69 patients were administered two 250 mg capsules of curcumin four times a day, along with one small placebo capsule,
  • A second group of 68 patients received one 20 mg omeprazole capsule and two large placebo capsules four times a day,
  • A third group of 69 patients received a combination of two 250 mg curcumin capsules four times a day, along with one 20 mg omeprazole capsule.

The trial lasted for 28 days.

20 people in the curcumin group dropped out before the study was completed, 19 in the omeprazole group and 16 in the combined treatment group.

The authors report that curcumin was safe and well-tolerated.

Although both curcumin and omeprazole proved equally effective at reducing dyspepsia, the combination of the two offered no added benefit and was the same as either alone.

The study was published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.

The study’s corresponding author, Dr. Krit Pongpirul, associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, explained:

“Turmeric has been used by Thai traditional medicine (TTM) doctors for releasing dyspepsia-like symptoms. It has been included in Thailand’s National List of Herbal Medicines, but good scientific evidence is still essential.”

The use of turmeric dates back Health">nearly 4,000 years, and it has been used as an antacid for much of that time.

“TTM doctors usually assess an individual’s constitutions — earth, water, wind, and fire — before personalizing specific herbs with appropriate flavor,” Dr. Pongpirul detailed.

“Individuals with functional dyspepsia, especially those with excessive gas, are considered [to be of] ‘insufficient wind constitution’ that could be corrected by some herbs with ‘hot flavor’ such as turmeric,” he continued.

He added that explanations of curcumin’s effect often involve its anti-inflammatory properties. Indeed, as Dr. Bedford noted, “I think of turmeric in treating patients with osteoarthritis or other inflammatory processes.”

However, Dr. Pongpirul suggests curcumin may have an effect on the gut microbiome.

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