Curcumin nanoemulsion for treatment of intestinal inflammation

Most of my posts about research into curcumin (which is derived from turmeric) treatments has been based in India but this work according to a March 7, 2024 news item on comes from Brazil, Note: If you’re interested in more about turmeric/curcumin, I have a link to more information at the end of this posting,

A nanoemulsion containing particles of curcumin, which is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, has been found capable of modulating the gut microbiota of mice with intestinal inflammation in experiments conducted by researchers at the University of Western São Paulo (UNOESTE) and São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil.

The image being used to illustrate an aspect of this research is a bit of a mystery. Is curcumin bright orange? And, it seems like a lot for a mouse,

Caption: The nanoemulsion enhanced the bioavailability of the curcumin and resulted in increased abundance of beneficial bacteria in the murine gut microbiota. Credit: UNOESTE

A March 6, 2024 Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) press release (also on EurekAlert but published March 7, 2024) by Thais Szegö, which originated the news item, Note: Links have been removed,

Curcumin, a natural substance belonging to the group of bioactive compounds called curcuminoids, is a yellow polyphenolic pigment found in the turmeric plant (Curcuma longa). It has gained prominence in treatments to combat inflammatory intestinal disorders, but its bioavailability is low when it is administered orally. This problem is exacerbated in patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other conditions associated with inflammation of the digestive tract and gut microbiota alterations. 

To enhance the efficacy of curcumin in such cases, the scientists developed an emulsion containing nanometric particles of the compound (invisible to the naked eye). “The research comprised two stages. The first entailed producing a nanoemulsion to deliver the curcumin. In the second, we evaluated its stability, morphology and physicochemical properties,” said Lizziane Kretli Winkelströter Eller, last author of the article and a professor at UNOESTE. 

Next, to test the action of the nanoemulsion in mice, the researchers induced intestinal inflammation using a drug called indomethacin and administered the nanoemulsion orally for 14 days. At the end of this period, they evaluated the intestinal inflammation by macroscopic, histopathological and metagenomic analysis.

The results showed that the nanoemulsion effectively improved the bioavailability of curcumin and modulated the gut microbiota of the mice after the damage was caused by the drug, increasing the presence there of beneficial bacteria. “The nanoemulsion didn’t lead to a significant improvement in the intestinal inflammation, but the relative abundance of Lactobacillus bacteria was about 25% higher in the mice treated with curcumin nanoemulsion than in the control group,” Eller said.

The authors of the study, the first to measure the effects of curcumin nanoemulsion in this way, stressed the importance of developing novel formulations that enhance the efficacy of curcumin in preventing and treating inflammatory bowel disease, since it has proved to be a valid alternative to existing treatments, which are expensive and have significant side effects. 

The group continues to conduct research on the potential of nanoformulations to deliver nutraceuticals (food elements of plant or animal origin with significant health benefits). “Specifically with regard to the curcumin nanoemulsion, we’re adjusting the formulation to increase the bioavailability of the active ingredient and will soon apply it in other protocols for the prevention and treatment of intestinal damage,” Eller said. 

About São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)

The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) is a public institution with the mission of supporting scientific research in all fields of knowledge by awarding scholarships, fellowships and grants to investigators linked with higher education and research institutions in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. FAPESP is aware that the very best research can only be done by working with the best researchers internationally. Therefore, it has established partnerships with funding agencies, higher education, private companies, and research organizations in other countries known for the quality of their research and has been encouraging scientists funded by its grants to further develop their international collaboration. You can learn more about FAPESP at and visit FAPESP news agency at to keep updated with the latest scientific breakthroughs FAPESP helps achieve through its many programs, awards and research centers. You may also subscribe to FAPESP news agency at

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Evaluation of curcumin nanoemulsion effect to prevent intestinal damage by Maria Vitória Minzoni de Souza Iacia, Maria Eduarda Ferraz Mendes, Karolinny Cristiny de Oliveira Vieira, Gilia Cristine Marques Ruiz, Carlos José Leopoldo Constantino, Cibely da Silva Martin, Aldo Eloizo Job, Gisele Alborghetti Nai, and Lizziane Kretli Winkelstroter Eller. International Journal of Pharmaceutics Volume 650, 25 January 2024, 123683 DOI:

This paper is behind a paywall.

For the curious, Johns Hopkins Medical School has a posting by Mary-Eve Brown about turmeric, its benefits, and its use in Ayurvedic medicine.

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