Turmeric (Curcumin): The Golden Spice in the fight against Endometriosis

Posted By Braverman IVF & Reproductive Immunology || 15-Feb-2018

Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is a spice found in Indian saffron and the most active constituent of turmeric. It has been consumed by people for centuries to treat a variety of proinflammatory ailments.

A recent review published in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy discussed the effects of curcumin and its possible molecular mechanisms on endometriosis.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you all the great benefits Turmeric can have on your health and more specifically on the prevention and reduction of your endometriosis.

1- Curcumin decreases endometrial cell proliferation, increases apoptosis thus reducing size and number of endometriotic lesions

Many studies have shown that in endometriosis patients (ENDO), the endometrial cells have a higher ability to survive (reduced sensitivity to apoptosis) and implant in ectopic locations (1-2) as compared to endometrial cells from ENDO-free patients.

The effects of curcumin have been investigated on cell proliferation and apoptosis in Vitro by comparing normal stromal endometrial cells to ectopic endometriotic stromal cells (3).

Results showed that in a control situation (no treatment):

  • ectopic endometriotic stromal cells express much higher level of estradiol than normal stromal endometrial cells
  • they also have a much higher growth rate as compared to normal stromal endometrial cells

    When these cells are treated with curcumin:

  • the number of endometriotic stromal cells was reduced
  • the cells growth was slowed
  • Estradiol level was lower after treatment with curcumin

    These data clearly suggest that curcumin can counteract the proliferative response of estradiol (increasing endometriotic lesions growth) which can be mediated by inducing apoptosis as previously shown (4).

    Further, several animal studies (rat and mice) where peritoneal endometriosis was induced showed that curcumin administration:

  • decreased the development of peritoneal endometrial glands compared with untreated control mice (5)
  • diminished the volume and weight of endometriotic lesions (6-7)
  • reduced the expression of pro-angiogenic and growth factors responsible for the proliferation of ectopic cells including VEGF, PDGF, FGF, EGF (8)

    The anti-proliferative/pro-apoptotic potential of other herbal ingredients, including Vitex, has been proven in cancer but Curcumin is one of the very few with a scientifically proven effect on endometriotic cells/lesions.

    2- Curcumin reduces Inflammation

    Endometriosis has been associated with a Th1-cell associated cytokines profile (pro-inflammatory).

    Inflammation plays a key role in the development of endometriosis and alteration of immune cells have been reported in the peritoneal fluid, ectopic lesions but also eutopic endometrium.

    Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown as a valuable agent in the prevention and treatment of endometriosis.

    An in vitro study (9), where human ectopic endometriotic cells were cultured with curcumin, showed a significant inhibition of TNF-α-induced secretion of IL-6, IL-8 and MCP-1, known actors in the development of endometriosis. Further, curcumin inhibited the expression of NF-kappa B, a master regulator of inflammation.

    Another study in vitro showed that curcumin could arrest endometriotic cells proliferation in a dose-dependent manner by repressing the activity of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), a factor involved in tissue remodeling (10).

    3- Curcumin has strong anti-oxidant properties

    Oxidative stress with the production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) may promote endometriosis by increasing growth and adhesion of endometrial cells in the peritoneal cavity (11-12).

    In addition, oxidative stress negatively affects fertility by disrupting the mitochondrial activity in the oocyte (13-14).

    In mice model of endometriosis, the administration of curcumin significantly:

  • reduces ROS production (15)
  • prevents lipid peroxidation and protein oxidation (10, two processes generating oxidative stress).

    These studies showed the therapeutic potential of curcumin as an antioxidant defense against oxidative stress impacting endometriosis development and infertility.

    Curcumin is one of the several ingredients included in our Endo-Optimize supplement.

    This formulation has been developed to be the best solution to counteract oxidative stress induced-DNA damage and optimize your egg quality as well as minimizing your symptoms associated with endometriosis and PCOS.

    This all in one pill contains many ingredients enhancing mitochondrial activity (a key component in oocyte development) and reducing inflammation thus allowing optimal microenvironment for the oocyte development and maturation. To learn more about the topic, read our blog ENDO-optimize: an "all in one" dietary supplement with beneficial effects on egg quality, endometriosis and PCOS.

    To learn more about our supplement range, consult our website.


    1- G.F. Meresman, S. Vighi, R.A. Buquet, O. Contreras-Ortiz, M. Tesone, L.S. Rumi, Apoptosis and expression of Bcl-2 and Bax in eutopic endometrium from women with endometriosis, Fertil. Steril. 74 (2000) 760–766.

    2- H.M. Gebel, D.P. Braun, A. Tambur, D. Frame, N. Rana, W.P. Dmowski, Spontaneous apoptosis of endometrial tissue is impaired in women with endometriosis, Fertil. Steril. 69 (1998) 1042–1047.

    3- Y. Zhang, H. Cao, Z. Yu, H.Y. Peng, C.j. Zhang, Curcumin inhibits endometriosis endometrial cells by reducing estradiol production, Iran. J. Reprod. Med. 11 (2013) 415–422.

    4- Singh M, Singh N. Curcumin counteracts the proliferative effect of estradiol and induces apoptosis in cervical cancer cells. Mol Cell Biochem 2011; 347: 1-11.

    5- S. Jana, S. Paul, S. Swarnakar, Curcumin as anti-endometriotic agent: implication of MMP-3 and intrinsic apoptotic pathway, Biochem. Pharmacol. 83 (2012) 797–804.

    6- Q. Yun-fei, L. Shu-juan, L. Bin, Estrogen-independent inhibition of curcumin on formation of endometriotic foci in rats with experimental endometriosis, Med. J. West China. (2012).

    7- Y. Zhang, H. Cao, Y. y. Hu, H. Wang, C. j. Zhang, Inhibitory effect of curcumin on angiogenesis in ectopic endometrium of rats with experimental endometriosis, Int. J. Mol. Med. 27 (2011) 87–94.

    8- A.B. Kunnumakkara, P. Anand, B.B. Aggarwal, Curcumin inhibits proliferation invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis of different cancers through interaction with multiple cell signaling proteins, Cancer Lett. 269 (2008) 199–225.

    9- Kim KH, Lee EN, Park JK, Lee JR, Kim JH, Choi HJ, Kim BS, Lee HW, Lee KS, Yoon S. Curcumin attenuates TNF-α-induced expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and proinflammatory cytokines in human endometriotic stromal cells. Phytother Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1037-47.

    10- Swarnakar S, Paul S. Curcumin arrests endometriosis by downregulation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2009 Feb;46(1):59-65.

    11- S. Gupta, A. Agarwal, N. Krajcir, J.G. Alvarez, Role of oxidative stress in endometriosis, Reprod. Biomed. Online 13 (2006) 126–134.

    12- A.V. Langendonckt, F. Casanas-Roux, J. Donnez, Oxidative stress and peritoneal endometriosis, Fertil. Steril. 77 (2002) 861–870.

    13- Gupta S, Goldberg JM, Aziz N, Goldberg E, Krajcir N, Agarwal A. Pathogenic mechanisms in endometriosis-associated infertility. Fertil Steril. 2008 Aug;90(2):247-57.

    14- Da Broi MG, Jordão AA Jr, Ferriani RA, Navarro PA. Oocyte oxidative DNA damage may be involved in minimal/mild endometriosis-related infertility. Mol Reprod Dev. 2017 Dec 16.

    15- S.K. Jana, B. Chakravarty, K. Chaudhury, Letrozole and curcumin loaded-PLGA nanoparticles: a therapeutic strategy for endometriosis, J. Nanomed. Biother. Discov. 4 (2014).

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