Turmeric, also known as Curcuma longa, is a common spice native to India and other tropical regions. It is frequently used in Asian cooking. The active ingredient, curcumin, is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Rao, S., Dinkar, C., Vaishnav, L.K., Rao, P., Rai, M.P., Fayad, R., & Baliga, M.S. (2013). The Indian spice turmeric delays and mitigates radiation-induced oral mucositis in patients undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer: An investigational study. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 13, 201–210.
To evaluate the efficacy of turmeric in preventing radiation-induced mucositis. Secondary endpoints included the efficacy of turmeric rinses on treatment breaks and weight loss.
The trial held the same recommended oral care for the treatment and comparison groups. Participants also were asked to swish after oral intake and wait 30 minutes to eat after swishing with the prescribed solution. The treatment group (turmeric rinses) was instructed to have a caregiver dissolve the contents of one 400 mg capsule of turmeric in 80 ml of boiled and cooled water. The patient was then instructed to swish 10 ml of the solution one hour prior to radiation; one, two, four, and six hours after radiation; and at HS. The comparison group was instructed to mix a povidone-iodine solution at 1 ml Betadine® to 100 ml water and swish 10 ml twice per day for six weeks.
There was a significantly (p < 0.0001) lower rate of intolerable mucositis (grades 3 and 4) in the turmeric group. There was no significant change in treatment days lost between groups. Weight loss in the turmeric group was less (p < 0.001).
Turmeric rinses are beneficial in reducing grade 3 and 4 mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer undergoing chemotherapy or chemotherapy and carboplatin, compared with twice-daily povidone-iodine rinses.
Turmeric rinses may provide some protection against oral mucositis for patients with head and neck cancer undergoing radiation and radiation plus chemotherapy; however, more research is needed. The treatment was reported as well tolerated, and there was no mention of adverse side effects.