Monday, January 19, 2015

The Turmeric "mystery"-Is it really as iconic as it is made out to be?

It was only recently this Blogger put up a piece regarding the role played by black pepper in enhancing the health protective properties associated with phytochemicals contained in the popular Asian condiment turmeric. It is a fact that curcumin, one of the more active constituents of turmeric, has significant anti-inflammatory properties, preventing many diseases that afflict mankind and Asians who consume curry powder formulations containing turmeric and black pepper are invariably found to be healthier, in spite of wide spread poverty all around. It was also realized that curcumin absorption across the intestine is much more efficient when turmeric is part of a preparation containing high fat levels. Now comes a new report indicating that curcumin can be formulated to be a therapeutic product or well being product through the technique of nano emulsification. Here is a gist of this report which appears to have significant implications for many population not consuming turmeric regularly in their daily diet. 

"A modified formulation of curcumin, a naturally occurring compound found in turmeric, releases its anti-inflammatory goodness throughout the body, the findings showed. Although known for promoting health by lowering inflammation, currently available curcumin supplements are not absorbed well by the body. Most curcumin in food or supplements stays in the gastrointestinal tract, and any portion that is absorbed is metabolised quickly. "This study suggests that we have identified a better and more effective way to deliver curcumin and know what diseases to use it for so that we can take advantage of its anti-inflammatory power," said lead author of the study Nicholas Young from Ohio State University. Curcumin powder mixed with castor oil and polyethylene glycol in a process called nano-emulsion, has the best potential against macrophage-associated inflammation, the researchers found in a mice study."

The fact that turmeric itself was used in the nano emulsion formulation is significant by itself because most products in the market to day are based on extracted curcumin. However there seems to be large wastage of curcumin in the gastrointestinal tract as it is not absorbed efficiently due to its poor solubility in aqueous phase. Though the above study is based on rat experiments, the authors who pioneered the work feel that same results would hold good in human beings also. It is a question of time before further proof of this hypothesis will emerge as it has excited many scientists across the world. To think of a pill containing low doses of turmeric or curcumin for every day use to preempt many diseases is really exciting. The possibility that higher doses can be prepared in deliverable format to cure certain diseases is also good news for millions who are suffering from such dIseases

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