Curcumin is the biologically active component of turmeric plant (a member of the ginger family). Besides its well-known culinary history, it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for several years in India for various medical conditions including common cold, cough, jaundice, and upper respiratory disorders.
Recently it has been reported that turmeric can also be used as an anti-viral agent. Researchers have published a study that indicated curcumin can be used as an ally in the treatment against HIV2. The information in the study was suggestive at best, but the in-vitro results couldn’t be overlooked: curcumin was effective in inhibiting the replication of HIV in both acutely infected and chronically infected cells.
In another study, Turmeric oil (isolated from the root of the turmeric plant) has shown the ability to reduce excess gas in the stomach and intestines. Cineol, camphor, and linalool are also found in turmeric extracts and they have anti-spasmodic properties (this would explain the common Asian prescription of turmeric powder for stomach aches).
Even some studies have also revealed the anti-inflammatory properties of Turmeric. Indian system of medicine have used turmeric both topically and internally to fight inflammation. Scientists have found that curcumin inhibits hyaluronidase activity. Hyaluronidase is an enzyme that is released by the body to protect itself at the site of an injury, but the continued release of this enzyme then causes inflammation and infection. Regular consumption of curcumin can keep the hyaluronidase levels in check.
Curcumin shares some of the same effects on the liver as silymarin and cynarin. It has demonstrated similar liver protection activity to silymarin. Curcumin is believed to also be converted to a choleretic compound, perhaps even caffeic acid. Cur cumin’s documented choleretic effects support its historical use in treating liver and gallbladder disorders.
Curcuma inhibits the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and also breaks up existing plaques. Curcumin has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which scientists believe help ease Alzheimer’s symptoms caused by oxidation and inflammation.
One more application of curcumin is yet under consideration; its use to combat arthritis-related inflammation. In fact, a very effective protocol against arthritis may be the combination of curcumin with glucosamines.