AHPA responds to inaccurate media coverage of curcumin mini-perspective

Analytical Laboratories Committee

Chair: Darryl Sullivan (Covance Laboratories)
Staff Contact: Holly Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Purpose:  To provide guidance to AHPA’s membership in the area of analytical methods for botanicals and to serve as AHPA’s representative in assuring that the emerging development of analytical methods is managed in a manner that provides value to AHPA’s membership.

AHPA Members, if you would like to join this committee, please email the staff contact.

Committee Meeting Minutes and News

AHPA responds to inaccurate media coverage of curcumin mini-perspective

Mini-perspective has been misinterpreted to create inaccurate headlines and articles that misinform the public about turmeric

Published: Friday, February 3, 2017

American Herbal Product Association (AHPA) Chief Science Officer Maged Sharaf, Ph.D., responded to inaccurate media coverage of a mini-perspecive, "The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin," published by the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. The article was misinterpreted by several publications, including TIME magazine, the Smithsonian and Medical Daily. Dr. Sharaf criticized the headlines that "misinform the public about turmeric and turmeric-based ingredients."

"This mini-perspective has been misinterpreted to create inaccurate headlines and articles that misinform the public about turmeric and turmeric-based ingredients. It should not be interpreted that turmeric or its metabolites provide no health benefits," said Dr. Sharaf. "The mini-perspective simply states that anyone trying to develop the chemical curcumin into a drug must use well-designed research protocol. There are dozens of published clinical studies showing that turmeric and its constituents impart significant health benefits, and misinterpreting this paper discussing curcumin viability for drug development to discount those benefits does a disservice to human health."

The TIME article states that, "A new review of scientific literature on curcumin, the most well-known chemical in turmeric, suggests that the compound has limited, if any, actual health benefits."

In response, Dr. Sharaf informed the editors and reporters, "Turmeric has long history of human use both as a food seasoning and a health remedy, and its benefits are well-documented. Curcumin is one of many compounds in turmeric and is considered a secondary metabolite, constituents which are present in small amounts and in mixtures. It is already well known that curcumin by itself is not well absorbed by the human body, but effects of other constituents of turmeric and those present in the gastrointestinal tract shouldn't be ignored, nor should the fact that companies have developed patented formulas to improve bioavailability of turmeric-based ingredients."

Dr. Sharaf concluded, "The mini-perspective is a good resource for those conducting research on curcumin and related curcuminoids to develop drugs because it provides hypotheses that could explain their biological activity and various strategies to avoid potentially problematic research approaches and/or misinterpretation of outcomes."


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