Turmeric has been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat wounds, arthritic pain, infections, scabies (when used on the skin) and other illnesses over 2500 years in the South Asian region. And it is long been believed that the main ingredient of turmeric — known as ‘curcumin’ is responsible for its healing power; but it has not been known how curcumin exactly works inside the human body.
According to an article recently published in ‘the Journal of the American Chemical Society’ has revealed the secret behind the healing power of turmeric. Scientists used solid-state NMR spectroscopy to examine molecules of curcumin and found that they act like a “biochemical disciplinarian.” The molecules insert themselves into cell membranes and make the membranes more stable and orderly in a way that boosts cells’ resistance to infection by disease-causing microbes.
Researchers found ‘curcumin’ the main ingredient of turmeric was identified as responsible for most of the biological effects. Curcumin was found to enhance the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that supports nerve growth.
It has been said that when combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer. There is also evidence that ‘piperine’, found in black pepper, improves the absorption of turmeric.
In 1998 Indian researchers at St. John’s Medical College (Bangalore), found that a low dose of turmeric could have a greater effect in terms of health benefits when combined with piperine than a large dose of turmeric would.
Dosages between half a teaspoon three times a day of a mixture of 16 parts of turmeric powder to 1 part of ground black pepper, and two teaspoons of turmeric powder and half a teaspoon of ground black pepper per day have been recommended.
Today, many studies have revealed that turmeric is one of nature’s most powerful healers, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from simple infection to complicated Alzheimer’s disease. The medicinal properties of this spice have been slowly revealing its natural wonder.
However, due to methodological weaknesses in many available studies, an evidence-based recommendation cannot be made regarding the use of turmeric for any specific illness. More human studies are needed before a final recommendation can be made about all above diseases.
Dr Rubaiul Murshed
SourceL The Daily Star, June 20, 2009