Turmeric: Snapshot


Turmeric is the primary anti-inflammatory herb of ayurvedic medicine. Its principal chemical component, curcumin, has anticancer effects in cell lines, and is useful for arthritis through its potent antioxidant action. Curcumin also protects the liver, stimulates the gallbladder, and scavenges free radicals.
Curcumin is an excellent herbal remedy for situations in which high concentrations of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents are required.

Typically, about 60 to 65 percent of curcumin is absorbed by the body, but in one study when coupled with piperine, absorption was increased in animals. Curcumin is also sold in combination with bromelain to enhance absorption. Bromelain has some anti-inflammatory benefits of its own that may add to those of curcumin. Take with a fatty substance like fish oils, full-fat milk or lecithin to improve absorption.

Botanical Name

Curcuma longa

Part Used

Rhizome

Common Names

Indian saffron; Indian Yellow Root; curcuma, Safran des Indes, Terre-mérite, Souchet des Indes (French); Kurkuma, Curcuma, Indischer Safran, Gelbwurz, Gelbwurzel (German); Curcuma (Italian); Ukon (Japanese); Arishina (Kannada); Romiet (khmer); Khi min khun (Laotian); Kunyit basah (Malay); Huva (Malayalam); Halede (Marathi); Gurkemeie (Norwegian); Zard-choobag (Pahlawi); Zarchoba (Pashto); Klacze kurkumy (Polish); Açafrão da India, Curcuma (Portuguese); Haldi (Punjabi); Zholty imbir (Russian); Haridra, Marmarii (Sanskrit); Kaha (Singhalese); Haldi (Hindi); curcuma, Azafrán arabe (Spanish); Manjano (Swahili); gurkmeja (Swedish); wong geung, Yu chin, Yu jin, Jiang huang (Chinese); kunjit, kunyit, Daun kunyit- leaves (Indonesian); kamin (Thai); Gurkemeje (Danish); Geelwortel, Kurkuma (Dutch); kanghwang (Korean); kyoo (Japanese); Ird (Amharic); Kurkum (Arabic); Halodhi (Assami); Halud (Bengali); Hsanwen, Sa nwin, Sanae (Burmese); Harilik kurkuma (Estonian); Keltajuuri (Finnish); Halad, Saldar (Gujrati); Kurkuma, Sárga gyömbérgyökér (Hungrian); Túrmerik (Icelandic); Dilaw (Tagalog); Manjal (Tamil); Pasupu (Telugu); Kha min (Thai); Zerdeçal (Turkish); Haladi (Urdu); Cu nghe (fresh), Bot nghe (dried and ground) (Vietnamese)

Brief History

Turmeric held a place of honour in India’s traditional Ayurvedic medicine. A symbol of prosperity, it was considered a cleansing herb for the whole body. Medically, it was used as a digestive aid and treatment for fever, infections, dysentery, arthritis, and jaundice and other liver problems. In Hindu ceremony it represents fertility. Turmeric boiled with milk and drunk last thing before going to bed is considered to be the best medicine for an irritating dry cough.

Traditional Chinese physicians also used turmeric to treat liver and gallbladder problems, stop bleeding and treat chest congestion and menstrual discomforts.

In the 1870s, chemists discovered turmeric’s orange-yellow root powder turned reddish brown when exposed to alkaline chemicals This discovery led to the development of “turmeric paper,” thin strips of tissue brushed with a decoction of turmeric, then dried. During the late 19th century, turmeric paper was used in laboratories around the world to test for alkalinity. Eventually, it was replaced by litmus paper.

Cultivation

Curcuma longa in flowerTurmeric is native to India and southern Asia and is cultivated throughout southern and eastern Asia. It is propagated by cuttings from the root and needs well-drained soil and a humid climate. The rhizome is unearthed in winter.

Constituents

Borneol, cineole, curcumin (coumarin), diarylheptanoids (yellow pigments), essential oil, methoxylated curcumins, sabinene, sesquiterpene ketones (including ar-turmerone), zingiberene

Therapeutic Properties

Antiinflammatory (curcumin is a dual inhibitor of arachidonic acid metabolism); antioxidant (particularly by reducing lipid peroxidation); favourably influences cardiovascular function; antimicrobial (particularly by topical application); inhibits carcinogenesis and tumour promotion.

Vitalist Properties

Temperature: Warm

Moisture: Drying

Therapeutic Indications

Arthritis, asthma, cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease prevention, digestive weakness, eczema, liver insufficiency, psoriasis

Primary Uses

Arthritis and postoperative inflammation.

Clinical studies have confirmed that the volatile oil in turmeric can ease acute pain caused by some mechanisms. Its effectiveness is equal to that of steroid preparations such as hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone, but without their side effects. Test-tube and laboratory studies have confirmed that curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic activity. This accounts for the long-standing tradition in India of using turmeric to prevent and treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It has been shown to be effective in reducing pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.

In one study, an extract of turmeric, Meriva, when used at the equivalent of 200 milligrammes of curcumin per day, allowed patients with osteoarthritis to use 63 percent less NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) medications and still obtain relief from pain.

Cancer

Curcumin causes the death of cancer cells arising from several different types of tissue. In the laboratory, this compound kills cultures of human leukaemia cells. Most of the studies in cell lines were done on pancreatic, breast, and colon cancers. Clinical testing has shown that curcumin increases survival rates in melanoma. It inhibits the spread of melanoma to the lungs. By curtailing the activity of PAF, which is necessary for the formation of the new blood vessels that tumours need to grow, curcumin can keep tumours from spreading throughout the body.

Curcumin can aid recovery from cancer by stimulating the immune system. It stimulates the production of B cells, which are usually depleted in people with chronic leukaemia, multiple myeloma, and ovarian cancer. It stimulates the production of T-cells, which are depleted in Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and any form of carcinoma that has spread from the original site. Curcumin also works well with some cancer treatments, preventing lung damage caused by the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) and by whole-body radiation.

Curcumin is also a potent cancer preventive. It inhibits the action of p450, a liver enzyme that causes environmental toxins to be processed in ways that make them carcinogenic. It is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and a strong antioxidant. Curcumin also is a potent inhibitor of protein kinase C, which can lead to tumour suppression by blocking signal transduction pathways in the target cells. Thus, some have proposed that curcumin could be a potential third-generation cancer chemopreventive agent. Curcumin is especially useful in the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer. It works in the same manner as NSAIDs, by suppressing the genes necessary for both the start and the spread of cancer. Curcumin suppresses two genes necessary for the development of colorectal cancer. It prevents damage caused by aflatoxin, a poison produced during improper storage of grains and peanuts. In rodents, curcumin significantly suppressed the promotion/progression stage of colon cancer cells as well as preventing the invasive adenocarcinomas from spreading. In another rodent study of colon cancer, curcumin was added to the rats’ diet and suppressed tumour volume by 57 percent compared to a control diet without added curcumin.

Curcumin may also be helpful for women with breast cancer. Curcumin stopped cancer cells from spreading in several breast tumour cell lines including hormone-dependent and hormone-independent lines. Curcumin also induced cell death in breast cancer cells. These results are promising, but those who are undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer should limit their intake of turmeric because the herb may limit the effectiveness of the drug treatment cyclophosphamide.

Ulcerative Colitis

Turmeric has been used for thousands of years for gastrointestinal discomforts. A Japanese study found that 2 grammes of curcumin a day were superior to usual treatments such as sulfasalazine or mesalamine. It was particularly good at preventing relapse of the disease, but the herb also improved the clinical score for the disease. No side effects were reported with the herb, but there were numerous side effects with conventional medications, including a headache, fever, rash, and kidney inflammation.

Clinical Research

  • In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, treatment with turmeric (2 g/day for 7 days) was significantly better than placebo for patients with dyspepsia.
  • In a small, uncontrolled trial, turmeric (2 g/day) produced favourable results for treating stomach ulcer after 4 to 12 weeks. In a controlled trial, 88% of participants treated with turmeric (4 g/day) showed improvement in abdominal pain caused by gastric ulceration compared with 40% in the group receiving magnesium silicate and aluminium hydroxide.
  • In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, patients with osteoarthritis received a preparation containing turmeric, ashwagandha, Boswellia serrata resin, and a zinc complex or placebo for 3 months. Treatment with the herbal-mineral preparation produced a Significant drop in severity of pain and disability.
  • In uncontrolled trials, turmeric extract (equivalent to approximately 50 g/day dried root for 12 weeks) dramatically decreased blood lipid peroxide levels in healthy males and lowered plasma cholesterol and triglycerides. The therapeutic effect was at least equivalent to clofibrate.
  • Turmeric given to chronic smokers {1.5 g/day for 30 days} significantly reduced urinary mutagens in a placebo-controlled study.
  • Patients with submucosal fibrosis (a precancerous condition) treated orally with turmeric preparations for 3 months experienced a normalisation in the number of micronucleated cells, both in exfoliated oral mucosal cells and in circulating Iymphocytes. Results were compared with healthy volunteers who served as a control group. The dose for the treatment group was turmeric extract 3 g per day given alone or mixed with either turmeric essential oil 600 mg per day or turmeric oleoresin 600 mg per day.
  • In Germany, the Commission E supports using turmeric to treat dyspeptic conditions.

Dosage (Divided Daily)

Dried Powder: 6,000 – 12,000mg

• Ratio Extract: 3,000 – 6,000mg (95% Curcumin)

• Tincture: 5 – 14 mL (1:1)

Contraindications

There are no contraindications for turmeric other than allergic reaction, which is probably rare. According to the Commission E, turmeric is contraindicated where there is obstruction of the biliary tract and should be used only after seeking professional advice if gallstones are present.

Side effects

Turmeric at 10% of diet caused some hair loss in rats and may have this effect in humans. A case of allergic contact dermatitis to turmeric in a spice shop worker was reported. The authors concluded that turmeric is probably a weak sensitizer and is not a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis.

Interactions with other drugs

High doses should not be given to patients taking antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs.


Buy Turmeric Loose Powder & Capsules
Dried Turmeric Powder

 Bibliography
  1. Balch, P. A., & Bell, S. J. (2012). Prescription for herbal healing (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Avery.

  2. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs : herbal formulations for the individual patient. St. Louis, MI: Churchill Livingstone.
  3. Herbalpedia (2013)
  4. Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine : the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
  5. Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and practice of phytotherapy : modern herbal medicine. Edinburgh ; London: Churchill Livingstone. 

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

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