What Is Curcumin?

Curcumin (chemical name: diferuloylmethane) is an extract of Tumeric, a common spice used throughout India and Asia[1]

Evidence that Curcumin can be used to treat glaucoma:

Of the supplements I recommend for my patients with glaucoma, this one has the least evidence supporting its use.  Although it has been shown to have a neuroprotective[2] effect, it has not specifically been shown to either reduce IOP or slow the progression of glaucoma.  In other words, because glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, and Curcumin has been shown to protect nerves from damage, it is thought that Curcumin may also benefit those with glaucoma.

Curcumin’s Potential Side Effects and Risks:

The FDA reports that Curcumin is “generally recognized as safe”.  The most commonly reported side effect is stomach upset.  There is, however, laboratory evidence that Curcumin could be toxic to the liver when large doses are used over a long period of[3,4]. Such toxicity has not been shown to occur in humans taking Curcumin by mouth.  Indeed, there is even evidence that Curcumin could protect the liver from damage.[5]In general there is very little evidence that oral supplementation with Curcumin could result in serious side effects even in doses as high as 12,000mg/day.[6] Minor side effects may include “GI distress” (stomach upset) when taken in the capsule form.  If this is the case it can often be alleviated by simply opening the capsule and pouring the Curcumin powder over soft food (such as soup or mashed potatoes).

Recommended Dosage:

As there are no published studies that have evaluated the effect of Curcumin on IOP or glaucoma progression, it is not possible to recommend a glaucoma-specific dose.  In the studies that have evaluated the effect of Curcumin on other diseases the dosages ranged from 20mg to 12,000mg/day.[7,8] As many of these studies evaluated the effect of doses around 500-1,000mg/day this is most likely a reasonable range to consider and is what I generally recommend to my patients with glaucoma who are interested in adding oral supplements to their treatment.

Cost of Curcumin:

If you are interested in taking Curcumin (Tumeric) as a natural treatment for glaucoma, you can find it at most health food stores as well as online for as little as $0.17 per 500mg capsule.  Take note, however, that the quality can very greatly.  To be certain you are getting a high quality product I would recommend you only purchase supplements such as Curcumin as from a trusted brand such as Life Extension

  1. Goel A, et al., Curcumin as ‘‘Curecumin’’: From kitchen to clinic, Biochem Pharmacol (2007), doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2007.08.016.
  2. Cole GM, Teter B, Grautschy SA. Neuroprotective effects of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol 2007;595:197-212..
  3. Deshpande S, et al. Subchronic oral toxicity of turmeric and ethanolic turmeric extract in female mice and rats. Toxicology Letters. 1998;95:183-193..
  4. Kandarkar SV, Sawant SS, Ingle AD, et al. Subchronic oral hepatotoxicity of turmeric in mice–histopathological and ultrastructural studies. Indian J Exp Biol. 1998;36:675-679..
  5. Kiso Y, Suzuki Y, Watanabe N, Oshima Y, Hikino H. Antihepatotoxic principles of Curcuma longa rhizomes. Planta Med 1983;49:185–7.
  6. Lao CD, Ruf?n MTt, Normolle D, Heath DD, Murray SI, Bailey JM, et al. Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation. BMC Complement Altern Med 2006;6:10..
  7. Cheng AL, Hsu CH, Lin JK, Hsu MM, Ho YF, Shen TS, et al. Phase I clinical trial of curcumin, a chemopreventive agent, in patients with high-risk or pre-malignant lesions. Anticancer Res 2001;21:2895–900..
  8. Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. In?uence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med 1998;64:353–6..

Don’t delay getting checked for glaucoma

Make an appointment with an eye doctor in your area now.  If you live in the greater Los Angeles area and would like Dr. David Richardson to evaluate your eyes for glaucoma call 626-289-7856 now.  Appointments are available Tuesday through Saturday.

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