Curcumin, a key anti-inflammatory compound from turmeric (Curcuma longa), is often identified as being a pain-relieving herbal medicine. But anti-inflammatory actions go far beyond that, and so does curcumin’s talents.
Because of the compound’s protective effect on healthy cells, stopping damage from oxidative stress and a multitude of inflammatory pathways, it can stop – and possibly reverse eye damage.
The retina is under a lot of strain, and comes under attack daily. The resulting oxidative stress and inflammation depletes the body’s natural store of antioxidants like superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx).
There is great potential for curcumin to treat eye conditions in a broad range, including diabetic neuropathy, retinal tumors, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. What the researchers found as a limiting factor for curcumin, its absorption ability, can be circumvented naturally.
There is a clinically studied curcumin available that combines the compound with turmeric essential oil for enhanced absorption and even greater anti-inflammatory benefits. This helps a relatively “fat” molecule enter the bloodstream much easier than unstandardized curcumin and even standardized curcumin extracts.
López-Malo D, Villarón-Casares CA, Alarcón-Jiménez J, et al. Curcumin as a Therapeutic Option in Retinal Diseases. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020;9(1):48. \
The retina is subjected to oxidative stress due to its high vascularization, long time light exposition and a high density of mitochondria. Oxidative stress can lead to pathological processes, like cell apoptosis, angiogenesis and inflammation ending in retinal pathologies. Curcumin, a major bioactive component obtained from the spice turmeric (Curcuma longa) rhizome has been used for centuries in Asian countries for cooking and for curing all kinds of diseases like dysentery, chest congestion and pain in general, due to its antioxidant effects. Curcumin prevents the formation of reactive oxygen species and so it is a good protective agent. Curcumin has shown also anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties. Curcumin is a natural product, which can be a therapeutic option in a variety of retinal diseases due to its pleiotropic properties. Some drawbacks are its poor solubility, bioavailability and lack of stability at physiological conditions; which have been shown in curcumin skeptical publications. In this review, we provide some lights and shadows on curcumin administration on the major retinal pathologies.