Resource Logo
Gay Men's Health Crisis

Curcumin Trial Finds No Activity


GMHC Treatment Issues 1996 Feb 1; 10(2): 7

Curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric and popular herbal medicine, has no anti-HIV activity in people according to a study presented by the Community Research Initiative of New England (CRINE) at the Retrovirus Conference (abstract 140). The report stands in contrast to an earlier, smaller study by the Search Alliance (now the AIDS ReSearch Alliance) of Los Angeles which observed a reduction in viral load. Interest in curcumin increased when Search Alliance announced that 2,500 mg per day of curcumin produced a "modest" reduction in viral load over twenty weeks.

Researchers at CRINE attempted to reproduce these results by enrolling 40 people in an eight-week trial. Two doses were used, 2,700 mg/day and 4,800 mg/day, and enrollees were allowed to take concurrent antiviral drugs.

The results were nil for both doses. Viral load (an average of 61,000 copies/ml at baseline) did not change significantly over the eight weeks, nor did CD4 count (baseline average of 236).

It is not clear why the two community-based research organizations came to such different conclusions. Ten of the eighteen Search volunteers received flu shots during the trial, which probably distorted the viral load data. The accuracy of the Search trial's viral load testing also has been questioned. (See AIDS Treatment News, May 6, 1994, pages 1-7.) The reason for curcumin's lack of activity may be that it is very poorly absorbed by the digestive tract, according to animal studies. Levels of curcumin in the blood were not measured in either study. CRINE plans to do this shortly.


Copyright © 1996 -Gay Men's Health Crisis, Publisher. All rights reserved to Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) Treatment Issues. Reproduced with permission. Treatment Issues is published twelve times yearly by GMHC, INC. Noncommercial reproduction is encouraged. Subscription lists are kept confidential. GMHC Treatment Issues, The Tisch Building, 119 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011 Email GMHC. Visit GMHC

Information in this article was accurate in February 1, 1996. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.