Turmeric May Be Helpful for AMD

Q I came across your February 2011 issue of Life Enhancement and found it to be very pertinent to myself. I could read the articles without greatly enlarged type because of a turmeric/curcumin mixture I had developed that succeeded in halting and then reversing a wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) condition. The mixture also changed my hair color from gray back to brown, and is gradually adding to the scope of vision of my other eye, which has dry AMD.

From reading your review of research findings, I am not sure as to whether turmeric/curcumin enhances or inhibits interleukin-2 (IL-2). This is an important question to me because IL-2 enhances the development of regulatory T immune cells (Treg).

CHARLES, Seattle

A The research is not clear. In one study, curcumin significantly inhibited the expression of MCP-1 and IL-2 mRNA in HK-2 cells.1 In another study, tumor exosomes isolated from curcumin-pretreated tumor cells were shown to have a lowered potency for the inhibition of IL-2 stimulated NK cell cytotoxicity.2 Finally, curcumin has been found to inhibit the suppressive activity of Treg cells by downregulating the production of TGF-beta and IL-10 in these cells.3

Regarding the effects of turmeric/curcumin on wet and dry AMD, the authors of a recent research paper stated, “We observed significant retinal neuroprotection in rats fed diets supplemented with curcumin (0.2% in diet) for 2 weeks. The mechanism of retinal protection from LIRD [light-induced retinal degeneration] by curcumin involves inhibition of NF-kappaB activation and down-regulation of cellular inflammatory genes. … [and] we speculate that curcumin would be an effective nutraceutical compound for preventive and augmentative therapy of AMD.”4 It seems reasonable to think that a liposomal or nanosphere microencapsulation of curcumin would be most likely to get into the eye to help with retinal problems and other eye conditions. With regard to turmeric use for hair coloring, we could only find one reference.5 Published in the journal Culture Medicine and Psychiatry, a researcher reports that South Indian devi (goddess) cult women were observed wearing heavy locks of matted hair anointed with turmeric, the color and healing properties of which are identified with this devi. But that paper can hardly be construed to make any respectable scientific case for hair coloring that results from oral ingestion. Can you tell us more about your experience?


  1. Zhong F, Chen H, Han L, Jin Y, Wang W. Curcumin attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced renal inflammation. Biol Pharm Bull 2011;34(2):226-32.
  2. Zhang HG, Kim H, Liu C, Yu S, Wang J, Grizzle WE, Kimberly RP, Barnes S. Curcumin reverses breast tumor exosomes mediated immune suppression of NK cell tumor cytotoxicity. Biochim Biophys Acta 2007 Jul;1773(7):1116-23.
  3. Bhattacharyya S, Md Sakib Hossain D, Mohanty S, Sankar Sen G, Chattopadhyay S, Banerjee S, Chakraborty J, Das K, Sarkar D, Das T, Sa G. Curcumin reverses T cell-mediated adaptive immune dysfunctions in tumor-bearing hosts. Cell Mol Immunol 2010 Jul;7(4):306-15.
  4. Mandal MN, Patlolla JM, Zheng L, Agbaga MP, Tran JT, Wicker L, Kasus-Jacobi A, Elliott MH, Rao CV, Anderson RE. Curcumin protects retinal cells from light-and oxidant stress-induced cell death. Free Radic Biol Med 2009 Mar 1;46(5):672-9.
  5. Ramberg L. Magical hair as dirt: Ecstatic bodies and postcolonial reform in South India. Cult Med Psychiatry 2009 Dec;33(4):501-22.

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