Main Article Content
Introduction: Pain is a significant, multifactorial problem worldwide. Curcumin, a derivative of the rhizome of turmeric (Curcuma longa), has been historically used in Asian medicine due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Recent clinical trials have demonstrated its potential analgesic effect. This mini-review aimed to summarize the analgesic effect of curcumin in the literature.
Methods: The Medline (PubMed) and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases were searched for articles published until Sep 15th, 2022. Randomized controlled trials (RCT) on the effect of oral curcumin on pain control in five different categories (1) arthritis, (2) muscle soreness, (3) abdominal pain, (4) oral pain, and (5) other types of pain were included. The risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomized trials (RoB2) tool.
Results: Nineteen full-text articles were included in the study, and eight studies described osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. All of them reported an effect of curcumin on knee OA pain reduction compared to a placebo or a similar effect to other pain medicines. The RoB assessment results in five studies with an overall low risk of bias and eight with a high risk. Results regarding other pain categories are inconclusive, with two studies showing no effect of curcumin.
Discussion: Within the limitations of this mini-review, curcumin has the potential to be an effective agent for treating pain, mainly when used to manage knee OA-related pain. However, further studies on the impact of curcumin, particularly in other pain categories, are needed.