1. Turmeric is a staple in the typical spice cabinet, used to flavor a wide variety of foods. A key ingredient in curry, turmeric is used extensively in Indian cuisine, as well as in many domestic foods and condiments, as much for its rich color as for its warm flavor. Turmeric has also been used medicinally for centuries, particularly in traditional Asian medicine. Turmeric is said to reduce inflammation, aid in wound healing, and relieve pain, among many other claimed health benefits. Recently, scientific has emerged to support some of those traditional medicinal uses. In a number of recent studies, turmeric has shown promise in the prevention of some diseases and health conditions and in the treatment of others.




    Research published in the “Journal of Food Science” showed that Asian spices, including turmeric, can decrease the amount of heterocyclic amines formed as foods are cooked at high temperatures. Heterocyclic amines are carcinogenic, meaning that they can increase the risk of cancer.


    In a study published in the journal “Cancer” curcumin, the pigment that gives turmeric its yellow color, stopped the growth of some melanoma skin cancer cells and killed others. Researchers state that curcumin seems to work by inhibiting the production of proteins in the cancer cells that would normally protect these cancer cells against cell death. Researchers used varying doses of curcumin during the study, finding that while all doses decreased cancer cell growth and killed cancer cells, higher doses were better. The higher the dose administered, the more cancer cells died.


    In yet another study, this one published in the “Journal of Ovarian Research,” curcumin increased the effectiveness of chemo and radiation therapy in ovarian cancer. Cancer cells present in ovarian cancer cases can become resistant to chemo and radiation treatment. Researcher found that curcumin inhibits the production of resistant cancer cells and can make existing cancer cells more vulnerable to the effects of these treatments, increasing their effectiveness in treating ovarian cancer.


    Obesity and Diabetes


    According to a 2008 “Science Daily” article, turmeric has shown promise in the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Since inflammation is believed to be involved in the development of both of these health issues, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center initiated a study to measure the effects of turmeric, a known anti-inflammatory agent, on diabetic mice. This study showed that, compared to control animals, mice treated with turmeric were less susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes, according top blood glucose levels and glucose and insulin tolerance tests, and that obese mice that were fed turmeric had significantly lower levels of inflammation in the liver and fat tissues.




    Another “Science Daily”article, published in March, 2010, explains that preliminary research has shown that curcumin seems to delay the liver damage that eventually leads to cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is caused by progressive tissue damage, which is generally the result of chronic inflammation. By interfering with the process that causes inflammation, curcumin slowed the rate of liver damage in mice used in this study.




    The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, states that turmeric has shown promise in preventing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. In a study done on mice, those fed turmeric extracts showed less joint swelling than mice who were not given the extracts.


    According to a study published in the journal “Alternative Medicine Review,” turmeric has shown benefit in the treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms. This study included 100 participants with osteoarthritis, and results showed that curcumin and other turmeric extracts significantly reduced pain and stiffness in joints affected by osteoarthritis.

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