Turmeric: Medical Uses
Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It may be used for stomach upset, acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and psoriasis.
Turmeric was used internally to regulate blood sugar in diabetics and to prevent colon cancer. It was applied topically as a paste to reduce canker sores and cold sores. It was also used as a yellow dye for the robes of Buddist monks. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron or yellow ginger.
A member of the ginger family, turmeric is a perennial plant cultivated in tropical regions of Asia.
Major Chemical Compounds
• Volatile oils
• Atlantone and zingiberone sugars
• Vitamins and minerals.
Turmeric: Clinical Uses
Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization for dyspepsia. It is also used for acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and psoriasis. It may have anti-HIV effects.
Mechanism of Action
This herb enhances cortisol levels, lowers cytokine levels, inhibits leukotriene formation, promotes fibrinolysis, and stabilizes cellular membranes. Curcumin has been proposed as an HIV-1 integrase inhibitor.
Capsules (standardized turmeric extract of up to 95 percent curcuminoids): 450-mg capsule three times daily.
Tea decoction: Steep 1.3 grams of turmeric root in 150 mL of boiled water for 10 to 15 minutes and drink twice daily.
None are known.
• Turmeric is contraindicated in patients with bile duct obstructions because it may increase the output of bile.
• It is contraindicated in patients with stomach ulcers or hyperacidity.
None are known.
Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding
Turmeric should be avoided by pregnant women except as a normal part of cooking. It may stimulate uterine contractions and promote menstruation.
Summary of Studies
Nagabhushan & Bhide (1992). This study looked at curcumin as an inhibitor of cancer. Results: Curcumin has anticarcinogenic activity because it inhibits replication of fully developed neo-plastic cells.
Scrimal & Dhawan (1979). Some pharmacological actions of curcumin have been examined in rats, mice, and cats. This study looked at curcumin as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Results: This compound has significant anti-inflammatory activity in acute and chronic models of inflammation. Curcumin is as effective as cortisone or pheylbutazone in acute inflammation, but only half as potent in chronic conditions. It has much lower ulcerogenic properties than phenylbutazone and it prevents inflammation-induced increases in SCOT and SGPT levels. It has no analgesic or antipyretic activity.
Prucksunand et al. (2001). In this study of 45 subjects with peptic ulcers, two turmeric capsules of 300 mg each five times a day improved symptoms within the first few weeks of treatment.
• Don’t take turmeric if you have gallbladder problems, stomach ulcers, or other stomach problems. Consult your health-care practitioner.
• Don’t use turmeric during pregnancy except as a normal part of cooking. Turmeric in large amounts may stimulate uterine contractions and promote menstruation.
Turmeric is used as a seasoning in cooking and is the highest known source of beta carotene. Store it in the refrigerator and add it at the end of cooking to preserve its medicinal qualities. Use turmeric as a marinade before grilling food to reduce the carcinogens created by grilling. Acids such as vinegar and lemon help to stabilize curcumin.
Anti-Oxidant Curry Powder
Mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric with ½ teaspoon of cardamom, ¼ teaspoon of cloves, ¼ teaspoon of cumin, ½ teaspoon of coriander, 1/8 teaspoon of celery seed, and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Use this curry powder to season rice, chicken, and lentil soup.
Cook 2 cups of basmati rice in 4 cups of water for about 10 minutes while preparing vegetables. In a skillet, saute two onions, four cloves of garlic, two tablespoons of ginger, five teaspoons of curry powder, and ½ teaspoon of salt in olive oil. Add 1 chopped green pepper and 1 chopped red pepper and continue sauteing. Add the rice mixture and cook until the rice turns yellow from the curry. This is a colorful, festive dish that contains quercetin and flavonoids (onions), vitamins (peppers), and antioxi-dant effects (curry). It serves 6.