Turmeric Curcumin Health Benefits May Prove It’s the Spice of Life
By on August 17th, 2012

A study by George Mason University researchers shows that turmeric, a common spice used in Indian cuisine, shows promise in fighting off viruses. The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Turmeric powder is extensively used in Indian cooking. Photo by Sanjay Acharya via Wikimedia Commons

A lot of studies have shown the health benefits associated with turmeric and its specific active ingredient, curcumin. Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, outlines many of these benefits on his website. In it he outlines the following:

  • Turmeric extract worked as well as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in a study published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
  • Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin acts as a weak phytoestrogen and seems to have cancer protective effects.
  • Lab studies have also shown that curcumin induces programmed death of colon cancer cells, and clinical trials are investigating the use of curcumin in treatment of colon cancer.
  • Curcumin suppresses microinflammation in the GI tract associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

Aarthi Narayanan, study author and research assistant professor in Mason’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, said that when she grew up in India, she was given turmeric all the time. Even now she gives turmeric to her own child when he suffers a throat infection. There is a lot more to turmeric than being a cooking spice and folk remedy. Narayanan sought out to study turmeric, and its particular isolate, curcumin, to prove its infection fighting properties.

Her research turned up some pretty impressive results. Rift Valley Fever virus is an up and coming virus that infects common livestock and humans. In livestock it is notorious for causing termination of pregnancy. It is also dangerous to humans as well. Curcumin literally stopped the potentially deadly Rift Valley Fever virus from multiplying in infected cells. It acts as a broad spectrum virus inhibitor by protecting cells that this virus attacks. The really cool thing about this research is that eventually it could lead to treatments for other families of viruses, including HIV.

“I know this works. I know it works because I have seen it happen in real life,” Narayanan says. “I eat it every day. I make it a point of adding it to vegetables I cook. Every single day.”

Of course, as with most studies, more studies need to be done. Narayanan says there are 10 types of curcumin and she wants to narrow down which one is most effective as an antiviral. This could eventually lead to a pharmaceutical designed to stop viruses before they start. With all this research on turmeric, now may be a good time to add a little dose to your cooking regimen for good measure. It may be a life saver.

For more information, visit http://newsdesk.gmu.edu/2012/08/turmeric-spices-up-virus-study/.

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Author: Darrin Jenkins Google Profile for Darrin Jenkins
Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!

Darrin Jenkins has written and can be contacted at darrin@techie-buzz.com.

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