Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has gained a lot of attention in recent years for its potential health benefits. A clinical trial has aimed to assess the efficacy of curcumin in reducing hepatic fat content in obese individuals.
The growing prevalence of obesity is strongly associated with hepatic steatosis (build-up of fat in the liver) and, thus, an increase in the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD affects 25%-30% of the general population. It can eventually lead to hepatitis, cirrhosis, and even hepatocellular carcinoma. Despite the severe consequences of NAFLD, effective management is currently limited to lifestyle-induced weight loss. A new plant-based supplement known as curcumin has been proposed as a potential treatment option for reducing hepatic steatosis. However, strong clinical studies on its effectiveness are limited.
A clinical trial has investigated the effects of curcumin on hepatic (liver) fat content in individuals with obesity. The trial involved 37 non-diabetic participants with obesity who were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received a twice-daily supplement containing 200 mg of curcumin, while the other group received a placebo (an inactive substance). Both groups were given their respective treatments for 6 weeks. The primary endpoint was hepatic fat content as assessed by magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).
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At the end of the trial, the researchers found that the group taking the curcumin supplement did not have a significant reduction in hepatic fat content compared to the placebo group. Specifically, a difference of -1.57% points was found between the two groups and this difference was deemed as not significant according to a statistical point of view.
The researchers also measured other markers of liver health, such as liver enzymes, fasting blood glucose, and serum triglycerides. However, the clinical study did not find any significant differences in these biomarkers between the two groups.
These findings suggest that curcumin may not be an effective treatment option for NAFLD as proposed in previous studies. These findings are significant as NAFLD continues to remain a condition that currently has no approved drug treatments.
This clinical trial provides evidence that curcumin may not have a beneficial effect on liver health in individuals with obesity. This is in contrast to previous clinical studies which have justified curcumin use in fatty liver disease. Thus, the results of this clinical trial emphasize the adoption of lifestyle changes to reduce weight loss for the management of fatty liver disease. It also highlights the need for continuing research for finding an appropriate drug treatment for NAFLD.
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