Turmeric has been promoted for treating numerous ailments
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family native to Southeast Asia. It is used in various dishes such as Indian curries and historically has been used in Asian medical systems.
Turmeric has been promoted for numerous ailments, including arthritis, digestive disorders, respiratory infections, allergies, depression and dementia.
Curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow color, is a major component of turmeric. The two names are often used interchangeably, with the activities of turmeric commonly attributed to curcumin and vice versa.
Research suggests that curcumin is an anti-inflammatory agent and a strong antioxidant, that is, a substance capable of neutralizing dangerous free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules produced during cell metabolism which can build up in the body, causing damage to other cells and raising the risk of cancer and other diseases.
Turmeric is difficult to study because curcumin is unstable and poorly absorbed, according to National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
“There is a mountain of literature on curcumin, but the vast majority is preclinical,” or tested in the lab, “which can’t be easily projected to how it will or will not work in humans,” said D. Craig Hopp, the NCCIH’s deputy director of extramural research.
Also, numerous clinical trials have not been able to replicate the activity observed in cells or animals, a fairly common occurrence not only in herbal medicine but also in pharmaceutical research, he said.
For those experiencing pain and inflammation, or who engage in physical activities that induce chronic inflammation, however, “turmeric use seems to have some evidence to a mild benefit,” said Michael Ormsbee, professor of nutrition and integrative physiology at Florida State University.
Ormsbee cited one study that reported four weeks of curcumin supplements of 1,500 milligrams daily was as effective as 1,200 daily milligrams of ibuprofen for the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.
Source: Washington Post