Turmeric

Plant Part Used

Root/Rhizome

Active Constituents

Curcuminoids.(2)

This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.

Introduction

In Ayurvedic medicine (traditional Indian medicine), turmeric rhizome has been used for centuries internally as a tonic for the stomach and liver and as a blood purifier.(3) It has also been used externally in the treatment and prevention of skin diseases and in arthritic complaints. The laboratory and clinical research indicates that turmeric and its phenolics have unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.(4) The anti-inflammatory strength of turmeric is comparable to steroidal drugs such as indomethacin.(5) Turmeric has been reported to be anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.(6)

Toxicities & Precautions

General

No known toxicity in recommended dosages.(7)

Health Conditions

Use with caution if peptic ulcer disease is present.

Based on pharmacology, do not use if biliary obstruction is present.(8)

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals with bleeding disorders.(9)

Side Effects

Some individuals may experience GI distress or irritation when beginning use.(1)

Pregnancy/Breast-Feeding

If pregnant or nursing, consult a physician before use.

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Pharmacology

The antioxidant activity of turmeric is mainly associated with its phenolic fraction, curcuminoids. The mechanisms by which they reportedly exert their antioxidative effects are: intervening in oxidative attacks to restrict or prevent them from occurring; scavenging or neutralizing free radicals; and breaking the oxidative chain reaction caused by free radicals.(10),(11),(12)

Curcuminoids reportedly inhibit enzymes which participate in the synthesis of inflammatory substances (leukotrienes and prostaglandins) derived from arachidonic acid, and it is claimed they are comparable in activity to the NSAID.(13) In a double-blind study of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin produced significant improvement in all subjects.(14) Turmeric is also claimed to inhibit platelet aggregation.(15)

Curcumin reportedly has a similar action to that of aspirin, aspirin-like anti-inflammatory agents and more recently the new Cox-2 inhibitors.(16) However, an advantage of curcumin over aspirin is claimed, since curcumin, unlike aspirin, is reported to selectively inhibit synthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins but does not affect the synthesis of prostacyclin.(17) Curcumin may be preferable for individuals who are prone to vascular thrombosis and require anti-inflammatory and/or anti-arthritic therapy.

Turmeric is claimed to be an antiproliferative agent and has been studied for use in breast tumor cells its potential as an anticancer agent.(18) Although the precise mechanism by which curcumin may inhibit colon tumorigenesis remains to be elucidated, it is believed that the chemopreventative action, at least in part, may be related to the modulation of arachidonic acid metabolism.(19) Turmeric was reported to decrease the incidence of Epstein-Barr induced post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) in individuals undergoing therapy with cyclosporin A.(20) Turmeric has been reported to be beneficial in HIV infection, possibly inhibiting transactivation of the virus.(21),(22) Also, turmeric recently has been reported to have chemopreventative effects in colon cancer when it is administered prior to, during, and after carcinogen treatment as well as when it is given only during the promotion/progression phase (starting late in premalignant stage) of colon carcinogenesis.(23) Another study incubated the SUIT-2 human pancreatic carcinoma cell line with various concentrations of curcumin while monitoring biological activity such as interleukin-8 (IL-8) production and transactivation of nuclear factor B (NF-B). Curcumin significantly reduced NF-B activity and inhibited IL-8 production in a dose dependent manner and pretreatment with curcumin significantly inhibited the growth rate of these cancer cells. Inhibition of such proinflammatory cytokines certainly lends merit to curcumin as a potential anticancer agent.(24)

Turmeric has been reported in vivo to have the ability to decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels in serum, as well as to increase HDL cholesterol.(25) Curcuminoids given daily to healthy subjects for seven days reportedly lowered the levels of blood lipid peroxides, as well as the levels of blood cholesterol.(26)

 

 

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